The boys started private swimming lessons yesterday. For the next two weeks they will go daily (not counting the weekends) and at the end they are guaranteed to be swimming all on their own.
At first I was scepticle. I mean, this woman didn’t know my children. She didn’t know how strong willed and stubborn they can be when they are afraid to do something. But, she’s not called the Swim Nazi for nothin’.
When she got there, she told me that I needed to sit on the side, not saying a word or clapping. All I needed to do was smile if they looked my direction. Sounds a lot easier than it actually was.
Immediately she had the Monkey going under water and coming up screamig. It was painful for me to watch. It was crazy how scared the poor little guy was. Every mother instinct in my body wanted to tell him, “It’s okay. You’re allright.” But I did as the teacher told me and I only sat there and smiled the biggest fake smile I could muster.
The Cheese was scared too, but he didn’t cry. I could tell that he was trying to be so brave, but his nerves showed through his shivering body. It was so great to see that he trusted her right away, and I have full confidence that he will be turning into a fish in no time.
Her techniques are simple–so simple that I would never have thought to do them. She also has patience that I would never have. They might cry, they might whine about being cold, but she doesn’t let them stop or give up. When most parents would say, “That’s okay, baby. We’ll try again later.” She makes them go for it again.
She also has them praise themselves. When they do a good job she tells them, “Say ‘I did it!’.” And through their mouths filled with water, they manage to say it.
She told me yesterday, “Today will be bad and tomorrow will be worse.” And it was. The Cheese was fine, actually excited, about going back to lessons today. But the Monkey told me all day, “I don’t want to go to the big pool.” I tried to talk it up, tell him what a big boy he will be when he learns to swim all by himself, but that it stop him from screaming when it was time to get in the water.
He wasn’t too happy about the whole thing, but that’s not keeping him from learning to swim. He is already going underwater, kicking and grabbing onto the side–the main things that you want them to know how to do. (For me, these lessons are about safety, not technique.)
I also want them to learn how much fun it is to swim. I was never particularly good at it, but I used to love to go swimming and I want my boys to experience that same kind of fun. Besides, we live in Southern California where swimming is a way of life.