Tuesday, July 28, 2009
The Swimming Lesson.
Nolan loves to swim. When he was three, one of the first things we did upon moving back to Minnesota was to enroll him in parent and child swimming lessons.
Day one I was polling other parents as to when they thought our kids would go under the water. With much convincing and coaxing most hoped by the end of the class. Nolan made it to day two. He let go of my hands and thrust his head down under the water and I could see the smile forming on his lips before he even surfaced for air. As it just so happens, I may be a bit taken with the water myself. It would surprise me not if I too sported the smallest of smiles. From then on, he and his little blue-belted-body boldly ventured further and further out into the pool and so began my earnest attempts to keep up.
We never had to question if he was ready for the water or the new skill his teachers were introducing. He sailed through his classes. Last summer he started in level two, passed to three, spent a week there and was moved up to level 4. I saw him emerge as a confident and strong swimmer.
I was so excited to begin our lessons last week. I, too, went through the entire series of lessons. I know from experience at this level the strokes would be harder to perform. They will require some skill and finesse, some coordination and a desire to perfect them. But Nolan has never lacked in determination. Until now.
I knew it would happen at some point. A teacher that doesn't mesh with Nolan. And in an effort to demand the very best out of Nolan, this new swim teacher threatened to "punish" the class when Nolan didn't perform. Now the weather has not been hot enough to swim every day like we normally do. Plus he was also somewhat leery of the whole 50 minutes being in the deep end of the pool. So when they were told to tread water, Nolan had a hard time wanting to let go of the edge of the pool for long periods of time. The teacher told the class that every time Nolan touched the wall, they would have to tread water LONGER.
It was no surprise today when Nolan woke with a "sore throat." He whispered that he wouldn't be able to go to swimming lessons for the rest of this week. He looked defeated. He tried to dig in his heels when I protested. I debated a long time on what to do. A part of me didn't want to force him to go, and it had nothing to do with his throat.
Still another part of me wanted to be THAT parent. The kind that swoops in, rescues their child and gives the instructor a piece of her mind. But a quieter part of me, desperately wanted Nolan to figure this out on his own. I thought to myself, how many times have I wanted to quit something? Too many to remember. But after sticking most of those things out for awhile, I realized sometimes when I struggled the most, things turned out the best. I'd find an inner quality I didn't know I had. I developed an ability to persevere. I wasn't and still am not, a quitter.
So Nolan and I agreed. It was his decision. But if he was quitting, he was going to tell his teacher face to face himself. We even role-played the kinds of things his teacher might say in an effort to talk him out of it. Slowly I could see something soften in Nolan. He finally looked at me and said "Do you really think he will want me to stay? 'Cause I was thinking he wouldn't care." I assured him I thought his teacher would care. Without saying anything he went and put on his suit and we left for the pool.
I watched and listened from the sidelines and I said a little prayer. "Please let today be different."
And then I heard the words I'd been dreading... "and if you touch the wall, we'll DOUBLE your time treading water today." Then, after a bit of a pause I heard... " JUST KIDDING!! Lets see who can tread water the longest today!"
In no way did this sound threatening, much more fun in a competitive way. I still saw Nolan reach for the wall, but this time no body said anything. This young instructor continued to engage the kids in a playful manner today. He threw the rings that Nolan is always so eager to retrieve. He loosened up and seemed to enjoy the experience.
My confident swimmer emerged again. He came home begging to go to the outdoor pool today to practice. We spent several hours swimming together today, just a mom and her son, still enjoying their love of the water. And yes, just like when he was three, I am still attempting to just keep up!
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