Motherhood, Marriage and Other Wild Rides

Health, Happiness and the Pursuit of Mommyhood

Catching up with the kidlets: Spring 2010 June 7, 2010

It’s been far too long since I’ve posted pictures for Gramma and Grampa in Canada to see. These little gems are from Spring 2010.

Just last week, my 5-year-old Joseph surprised us all by suddenly passing Level One after only FOUR swimming lessons! He has always been a big fan of his bath, and he loves to go in pools and to the beach, but he has always been very nervous to try to leave the edge and try to learn to swim. When he was a baby, I took him to parent-and-me classes at our local rec center, but it was mostly water-bonding and blowing motorboat. And fun, of course!

This summer, I made the commitment to put the boys in “real” swim lessons and signed them up to work together in semi-private lessons at Waterworks Aquatics, thanks to a referral from my friend Kristianne Koch. Waterworks is amazing, but costs a pretty penny. Kristianne’s son Merrik went there as an infant and with his parents’ help and encouragement, was boogie-boarding and beginning to surf last summer at age four… for hours!

Anyway, Joseph was very excited and curious about swim lessons–but I could tell he was nervous. His little brother Noah was beyond excited. When I put Noah in the water, I need to stay right next to him because he will simply leap forward into the deep water, fully expecting to be able to swim. He is confidence personified. In order to get the boys prepared for swimming (and to bring Joseph’s courage up to his little brother’s level) I began listing all the things they’ll be able to do once they can swim:

  • Pretend you are dolphins!
  • Pretend you are sharks!
  • Pretend you are mermaids! (hey, who isn’t curious about mermaids at some point?)
  • Have swim races for prizes!
  • Dive for treasure!

OK, for the first four items, they were cheering! With each new idea the cheers grew louder and louder until I said, “dive for treasure.” Noah’s joy came to a crashing halt. Joseph continued to bubble with enthusiasm: “I know! We can put treasure into a treasure box, and put it at the bottom of the pool, then DIVE for it!!”

All the color drained from Noah’s face.  He did not share these dreams. He did not want to go to the bottom of the pool, not for any treasure of any kind. I’d overshot the mark, and toppled the confidence meter. Now Joseph was desperate to get in the water and Noah was clinging to the edge in fear. What was I thinking?

Over the first two lessons, Joseph worked very hard, and while I could see that he has reservations, he set aside his fear and powered through. Noah cried and cried, so I’ve let him sit out until he tells me he wants to try again, and transferred our pre-paid lesson package to Joseph. If there’s one thing about Noah, he has an uncanny ability to figure things out. At age three, he is almost as good at riding his bicycle as his older brother.

I’ve never seen Joseph so focused. I sit where I can see him and give the “thumb’s up” when he looks my way, but I am otherwise removed from his lesson. From the beginning, he was equally cautious and determined. I am so pleased to see him resolve his own inner conflict of fear, choosing to try instead. His teacher is very matter-of-fact. She doesn’t overflow with positive reinforcement, but she doesn’t appear disappointed either when he doesn’t get it right the first time. She simply offers more and more chances to try, in different ways. When I saw him swim down almost four feet to get a toy, I just knew how thrilled he must have been.

I’m so proud of him–It is incredibly rewarding to watch your child decide to meet a goal, and to make his own efforts to achieve that goal. I always reward the spirit of “never giving up” because if we persevere, we can do the things we want to do. I have seen him be frustrated when building with his Legos, and the huge sense of accomplishment that arrives when he figures out to create what he sees in his mind. But learning to swim requires trusting the capabilities of your whole body, entering an unfamiliar world and letting go. When success comes, it is sweet indeed.

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