*warning: longest post ever, i needed to get it all down before i forgot.*
in july (07.14-17 & 07.21-24), carter took swim lessons for 2 weeks. it is quite possibly one of the best decisions and worst experiences i have lived through as a mother. all summer long when we went to the pool i would tell josh, "she is scared to death to be in the water." we knew we had to get her in lessons this year (she was too young for most places last year) and had been looking at available options. we were originally going to go to the ymca, but they have 20 children in a class and i wanted something more personal. i found a teacher online who teaches classes at pools in various locations throughout the city. splash class just happened to have a cancellation 2 weeks in a row at their germantown location in july. it would give us 2 weeks before we went to the beach. perfect!
now, if week 1 had gone as well as signing up to take the lessons this would not be such a long post. day 1 i tried to prepare her in advance by telling her we were going and looking at other blogs of friends whose children had taken lessons this summer. the terror set in immediately and she talked about it all day. meme tried to tell her how much she loved to swim and while we saw a brief glimpse of hope, she was not happy about the lessons. we got there and she sat on the top step but participated in everything. ms. shelley used positive reinforcement with all the children and did a great job of helping alleviate their fears. but, some fears are greater than others! carter whimpered through most of the first day expressing her dislike of the situation but still participated willingly when it was her turn. day 2 was not good from the second she asked me if she had to go back. she would cry every time she thought about it. when we talked about it, she explained that she was "scared" she would "go deep, deep in the water". i tried to explain that mommy and ms. shelley would never let this happen, but how do you calm such a rational fear. she cried though the entire class. she pulled the "i have to go poopoo" card to leave the pool area. she cried even harder when i made her go back. other parents started to stare and even comment out loud about her behavior. but, she still did everything willingly. that night, i was overwhelmed and apparently so was carter as she cried out hysterically several times in her sleep. josh and i discussed how i felt this was necessary to overcome the fear, but we didn't want her to be scarred for life. everyone we know has vivid memories of their own swim lessons experience, so apparently it is traumatic for all. let me also say she was not the only one who cried, or was scared, but she was the only one on week one of lessons and the only one who was hysterical. days 3 & 4 went similarly. i tried to focus my comments on the positive after each lesson and then before the next lesson would remind her of ways to improve the negative. i seriously stayed near miller most of the time while keeping an eye on my tearful child. she pulled the potty card everyday even though she went to the bathroom before we left home and everyday had a legitimate need to go. by friday, i was exhausted, cried every time i thought about the fear i saw on her face and how truly scared she was. the parents would openly talk about how they didn't understand her behavior until i couldn't take any more and calmly explained, "she is scared to death. literally . just look at her." the other mommies took notice rather than just judging her and they were stunned at how scared she obviously was. they all commented on the obvious fearful face and violent shaking and began to cheer her on when she did well. the next morning we went to the pool with friends and i got to work with carter on her new "skills". she wanted to do everything just like ms. shelley had taught her. and, she wasn't afraid. relief!!
week 2 she was excited to go-thank God! i didn't think i could take anymore. as a mother, forcing your child to face their fears is horrible. i was an emotional basketcase-so sad that she was afraid, wanting to console her, wanting to yell at the hysteria, encouraged at her accomplishments, upset at others' comments- the emotions were endless. her teacher even commented on how improved she was. all the pictures below are from week 2. i thought doing an afternoon class was a smart idea. but, we would go do things with friends in the morning, come home to take naps and i would have to wake up at least one if not 2 children to go the splash class. hmmm . . . maybe we will think that over better before next year.
picking up sticks in warm up.
longing to be in splash class too. he loves the water and wanted to be with "sister" so bad. next year, buddy!
waiting with her noodle on the side.
her favorite-the back stroke with noodle.
now, backstroke without noodle.