Swimming is something that we struggle with in our family.
MechDaddy had terrible ear infections as a kid and so had a long period of having tubes in his ears – making swimming deeply painful. Once (and only once) he thought he could finally make truly water-resistant ear plugs by putting Silly Putty in his ears. No water went in… but it took the ENT to get the putty out! So he didn’t swim much as a kid – even though he was a boy scout and went to camp every summer (and spent the rest of his summers at a lake), he didn’t do much actual swimming. It’s still not something that he enjoys.
I was in one of those 1970′s swim classes for kids at the Y where they thought it was a great idea to repeatedly dunk the kids under the water (while singing “Ring Around the Rosie”) whether we wanted to go under or not. To this day, I hate getting my head wet… and “Ring Around the Rosie.” So I’m not a happy, calm swimmer, either.
We live in an area, though, where swimming is a huge summer activity. Friends have pools and there are tons of public pools, and kids are expected to swim. I signed KarateKid up for the Y classes when he was 6 months old and we went for a couple of years – fortunately, the current Y staff are all about respect and relaxing in the water, and not ducking the kids under, so it was fun for me and for him.
As you can tell from my own history, I’m all about the unswimming. I want to provide plenty of opportunities for my kids to get in the water and enjoy themselves, but I am not going to push them to get in or take lessons if they don’t want to. I really believe that they’ll do better in the long run if they go at their own pace. I continue to offer both kids lessons at the Y, but they both turn them down.
Finally I was past my own issues – ready and willing to swim with the kids and make it fun and no-pressure – when I had my second clot. Now, I have pain when I go without my stocking in the shower, so I’m very hesitant to take it off long enough to swim for any length of time. So I haven’t taken them swimming myself this summer or last, and I think that’s making it hard for them to learn to get comfortable in the water.
Both kids are nervous about the water, just because we don’t get many opportunities to get them in it, and I feel awful that I can’t get in the water with GoGoGirl and help her get comfortable. They’re getting a little more pool time, slowly, at Heather’s house and public pools, so they are working on it. I have to remind myself to relax, and let this time pass, and have confidence that as they grow, they will have plenty of other opportunities to play in the water. And not compare them to other kids their age.
Today they played in a public wading pool that goes from 1 foot to just 2 feet deep. GoGoGirl eventually let go of the wall and “crab-swam,” and KarateKid even “floated” on his back (with one hand down) and got his hair wet happily (and played a Pokemon variant of Marco Polo, which is why he looks like a zombie in the top picture!). They had fun in the water, and they’re fine.