Wednesday, August 11, 2010
I thought swimming lessons were going to be fun. I have indulgently fond memories of swimming lessons as a child (plus not so fond memories of mean lifeguards), and so like any good parent... I wanted my kids to have the same opportunities I had. In this case it meant group lessons at the local city pool. At first I only signed Jamie up, but that was before I realized I would have to contain Charlie in a small little caged space next to the pool while we watched and waited for Jamie. Anyone with a two year old can attest, it would have been like trying to contain a popped balloon (or in Charlie's case... like putting his hands in mittens next to a bowl of m&m's). Painful for me and deafening to everyone else.
So I signed both of them up for swimming lessons, with the blissful ignorance that it would be Jamie scarring everyone for life and turning innocent, helpful people into child-hating cynics.
Yes, Jamie is rather reticent around adults... and yes, he can take a little while to warm up to most situations, but he'd never pulled a full on unicorns-are-dying, while someone-is-pouring-seething-green-poison-down-my-throat and poking-me-with-lava-dipped-needles before.... until now of course. Even that might be a bit understated. He managed to ward off four swim instructors with sheer, muscle and lung power that granted him super power to cling to the pool wall like his scrawny arms had become part of the cement. Meanwhile, I bobbed a happy Charlie up and down in the Mommy & Me class and pretended like Charlie was an only child.
It was going to be a very long two weeks. The weird thing was, Jamie was absolutely stoked about swimming lessons, he loves the water, and pretty much thinks he can live at the bottom of the pool like a hippopotamus. So we tried again. At home we practiced coping techniques, bought magical gummy bears for positive reinforcement and prayed for courage. Nothing doing. In his defense, he got an A- for effort. I'd drop him off with his eyes as wide as saucers... he'd start to hyperventilate and then catch himself...take a few deep breaths, square his shoulders and make his way to the pool with his peers. Then one of the instructors would pick him up to put him in the pool and it was like all the screws came loose. Calm breaths were replaced by wild eyes and terrifying screams of "DON'T TOUCH ME LIKE THAT" (which is of course what every adult wants to hear when they pick up a minor).
We didn't make it very many days before Jamie hurtled out of the pool at the end of his lesson and begged me to let him take lessons with Mrs. Smith. Since we were gaining quite the reputation and people were wincing when we showed up, I agreed with Jamie on this one and called Mrs. Smith to beg for mercy (she's a close family friend).
She deserves sainthood. She turned my stubborn, hysterical, puddle of a son into a swimmer in just two short weeks. There is more patience in her pinkie finger than I contain in my entire being on a good day.
Plus, she has a cool underwater camera.
Posted by Ez at 11:23 AM