Wednesday, April 27, 2011


Oh shit!

Since Harry was a baby and splashed his fat little hands off at parent-tot swimming lessons and dunked his own head under the water before he was a year and graduated to grown-up-less swimming lessons ahead of the curve and blasted through all the under-five levels at the Y in a year, so he'll be a ray until he's 6, I have been the smug mom at swimming lessons. The on who waves to her little fishy and gives the side-eye to helicopter moms on the pool deck coaxing their snowflakes into the water. The one who snaps another picture of her brave little guy's jump off the high dive and raises an eyebrow at the mom who lets the teachers pull her screaming child from her grasp.

Then I had Jack. We didn't do parent-child lessons with him when he was a baby because those lessons are stupid and I was fat. Last summer, he balked at parent-toddler Y lessons, so we stopped going because damn! That water is cold. We did tough it out over his whines last summer at our pool club, but those lessons were fun, and he always ended up having a good time.

As soon as he turned 3, I signed him up for Y lessons because I was so sick of him climbing all over me and the pool deck and the lane lines and the bleachers as I tried to watch Harry slithering through the water. I figured signing him up at the same time for his own parent-less lesson would be awesome.

Oh shit.

So not awesome.

He sat crying quietly on the pool deck next to his class, insisting that he didn't want to go in the water while I hovered behind him-- fully dressed-- in a puddle. His teacher made him wear a floaty belt and hold a pool noodle and catch a beach ball with the other 2 kids in his class, but she said he didn't have to go in the water. He was moderately cool with this arrangement and agreed to let a single toe dangle in the water.

Then Harry's teacher (whom we love-- he has had her in private lessons and group lessons for over a year, and she is great-- very no-nonsense and gruff, but she LOVES Harry) grabbed Jack and said he could come swim with her class, since he was wearing a float belt. He went apeshit. He dug his fingers into my fleece and screamed so hard the veins on his neck bulged out. But he floated. All by himself. He was too busy freaking out to notice-- he was so mad he bared his teeth like my old dog Einstein used to do-- but when he finally came out of the water, he was really proud of his accomplishment. "Me laughing, not crying," he said. "Only crying a little," he amended.

OMFG. I felt like shit about the whole situation, but I really do like Harry's teacher, and I think Jack should just get in the damn pool already. He claims that next week, he is excited to swim with his class, but that's the same thing he said today. Ugh. I don't know what I want to do. On the one hand, I want him to learn to swim. On the other hand, I am not looking to cause him some major trauma.

And to think, I used to judge the moms of criers. Hope #3 is another happy splasher.


  1. Yeah, the pool is so hit or miss for us. Ethan had been LOVING his swim lessons and then we had a substitute that just unceremoniously dunked his entire head underwater and he never wants to go back again. ugh.

    I hate to see him be upset and I'm sensitive to it since I had a really bad experience w/ swim lessons as a little kid, but he NEEDS to know how to swim--its not just a fun thing he can learn to do w/ his friends; its a need-to-know thing, so I have to suck up my helicopter-y tendency and keep him enrolled in the classes.

    Hope next week is easier for Jack!

  2. I'm taking my son to his first lesson without me in thirty minutes! I wish I had waited to read this post until after!!!

  3. We are going to do lessons this summer. And I am not sure how they will go... We thought about it last summer, but then AJU5 was so clingy I knew the likelihood of success was slim. She likes water and can float on her back and blow bubbles in the tub, but she hates getting her head wet. It may be an adventure...

  4. I remember HATING my Y lessons when I was a kid. (I sometimes have flashbacks to the misery of doing "peanut butter and jelly"--do they still do that?)

    But! I really grew to love swimming, and don't consider myself scarred. I say trust your instinct, but know that lots of kids"encouraged" to suffer through classes with no ill effects. Much worse, I think, if he doesn't know how to swim. (See: my husband, who still feels uncomfortable in the water at age 34 because he never learned.)

  5. I agree. Swimming is an important skill. Poor little guy, though!

    I was way smug in so many areas with just Charlie! Hahaha. Sigh.

  6. we are doing ten day intensive swimming lessons this June, and I am hoping that because the class will consist of Izzy, Jack, Izzy's best friend and her little sister (who is Jack's age), it will go really well. Of course, I also haven't told them they are going, just in case they really don't want to :-)

  7. Jack was hit or miss for a while because of some nonsense fear of not being with me or having me in sight at all times last year. But they kept peeling him off me and he kept eventually having fun with it. I see it like Sarah, it's mandatory he need to know how to swim. No excuses.

    He and Emmie are in the same class now and it works out well. Except when lessons are over and I have to give both of them a shower at the same time. Then I swear a lot. Thank God for my Hunter boots, I just wear them in the shower and yell, "RINSE OFF NOW" for 20 minutes.