I have new pictures for the upcoming “pond” and “dog” posts, but the camera isn’t handy, so I figured I’d take this chance to post about brother Tom’s swim lessons.
When I mentioned a month ago that he was going to be taking swim lessons, he immediately went into his room and put on his swim suit. I had to explain to him that we were not actually going swimming right then.
And (raise your hand if you saw this coming) when it was time for us to actually go to the lessons, he squalled and didn’t want to go.
But I dragged him along. We’re taking “parent-tot” lessons, where the parent gets in the water with the kid. I thought that would be the easiest for him to get used to, and would also be something that we could do together. (The pool only had two sessions, one from 3:15-3:45 and one from 8:00-8:30 (both PM). So my choices were to take off work early two days a week to participate, or have Tom up way past his bedtime on those two days. So we’re in the earlier session and I’m trying, with mixed success, to get to work early enough that I don’t have to burn a lot of leave.)
It’s a small class; it’s just me and Tom, and Colin and Colin’s mom, and the instructor. There has been another kid (named Chase, if I recall) there for a couple of sessions. Colin appears to be part fish, and enthusiastically tries just about everything he is asked (though he has balked at a few things the teacher has asked recently).
I should note here that the teacher (whose name I still don’t know) has been very good about encouraging both me and Tom. She made sure before the first lesson began to tell us (the parents) that we could tailor the games to what we thought our kids would be most comfortable with. Again, since Colin is more enthusiastic about things than Tom is, the first couple of sessions we spent doing our own, tamer versions of the games the teacher was playing with Colin and his mom.
The instructor was also good about emphasizing that the point to the lessons at first is simply to get the kids comfortable in the water and with the instructor. I don’t know this for a fact, but I wonder if she doesn’t make sure to emphasize that when she has dads and kids, worrying that some alpha dad is going to drown his kid trying to make sure he “wins”.

So as Colin was training for his open-water SCUBA certification, I was in the pool trying to coax Tom just to sit on the edge and put his feet in the water. (I should note here that it’s 4 or 5 feet, not the kiddie pool he is more used to, so some trepidation is certainly understandable.) The instructor told me, “Do whatever you’re comfortable with, dad, but we’ve heard a lot of yelling here and it doesn’t faze us.” I took that as permission to grab Tom and bring him in with me, and did so. I was hoping that it would teach the lessons that a) getting in the water won’t kill you and b) when Dad says you’re going to get into the water, he’s right. I was a little afraid that it would traumatize him, but figured it probably wouldn’t (it didn’t).
So our first session was basically a lot of screaming and clinging to dad’s neck for dear life as he walked around the pool. I thought it a minor victory that I got him to sit on the edge of the pool and kick his feet; we played a game that I held my hand above him and challenged him to get it wet by splashing with his kicking. But he had a bad attitude as we went out to the truck and went home; I was trying to be encouraging and offered to stop at McDonald’s as a reward and everything. The response was a somewhat sullen silence.
Imagine my chagrin (again, raise your hands if you saw this coming) when we got home and Tom WOULDN’T. STOP. TALKING. to mommy about swimming. He was even talking about all the games he had refused to play!

Again, I guess I shouldn’t be surprised at this stage of the game, but we have gone through the same routine every lesson since then: refusal (or at least dragging his feet) when it’s time to go, unwillingness to do what the instructor asks, but trying a few new things each time at Dad’s and the instructor’s requests, and then going home to tell mommy about all the things we did (and didn’t) do.

But he seems to have more fun each time, and tries more and more things each time (and yes, this is the kid who has to be dragged out of the pool at the end of the week at the beach). To get his sticker, he has to get in the pool on his own (he’s done this), get out of the pool on his own (he’s done this), and be comfortable with the instructor. I have had success at getting him into the pool and then handing him off to the instructor, but he won’t just jump in to her yet.

I think it’s definitely been worthwhile. The pool near us, by the way, is great, and the price is right. We are drawing near the end of the first set of lessons but I may just go ahead and extend them; I don’t think Tina will mind.

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