Tuesday, July 6, 2010

family swim

Lucy had her first swim lesson today.
It went better than I thought.
She was quite excited about it, had a spiffy new swim suit on, and was excited and chattering until we got to the pool. Then she started looking up and away (anywhere by the pool) and edged over to the wall.
"I'm jus' going to stay over here," she said.
"Just sit next to the water," I said. I introduced her to the swim instructor, and backed away.

Let's just say neither me or either daughter of mine is much of a water baby. Julia has only recently stopped crying when I put her in a bath; I'm proud of Lucy if she gets her feet wet at the beach, and I can barely pass the swim test for the deep end at a pool.

So. She sat on the step with her feet in the water, with half of her body twisted away from the instructor for most of the class. She kept shaking her head no when the instructor approached. I was sitting in the bleachers, out of range, but I could imagine the conversation between my sweetly stubborn child. ("You want to--" "No." "How 'bout we--" "No."

The swim coach finally stood up and lifted her into the water, and Lucy trailed through the water with her like a limp piece of seaweed. She kicked her legs. She didn't look happy, but she wasn't crying either.

And that was that. She protested after the next time the instructor pulled her in, nearly getting out of the pool, so after that, the instructor let her sit quietly and worked with the other kids.

I felt ambivalent. I wanted her to have fun, to get over her fear, and I also was a little proud of her for being her stubborn self and not cooperating.

Then the lesson was over. I went over to her, expecting her to be upset; she had not looked happy for any of the lesson.

Her face was shining. "Momma! I kicked my legs and the teacher went underwater and swam! We did tricks!" She skipped out of the building and talked about coming early the next time.

Oh, dear child. I'm thankful you're so good-natured. And watching you be stubbornly cautious like your mother makes me laugh.


Diana said...

I've had this experience more times than I care to count. I watch M looking slightly petrified and totally nervous--on a ride, in a class, on a stage--only to have him beaming with pride and joy with pride and joy when he finishes. I wish sometimes I could see what he sees, enjoy it as he enjoys it, rather than project whatever I expect upon him. I'm learning, though, to be happy with *his* experience, rather than wanting him to be happy with the experience I expected. It's funny what kids teach you.

Heather said...

Yes: to give them credit for being more tough than we know. And yet, as a child, I hated feeling forced to do things I didn't want to do (things that frightened me), and I want to listen to that voice in Lucy, too. Having choices is good, too.