Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Dog Paddle for Safety

Miss O just finished her swimming class. It was 3 weeks long, on Monday and Wednesdays for half hour. I thought it would be a GREAT way to get me to the YMCA, thus working out at least twice a week, while preparing my three oldest girls for a summer full of swimming fun.

Ha. Hahaha, I say.

I should have known there'd be trouble when I went to pick up Miss O from her first class and my friend, Cryptic Jennifer, said that she nearly left her Baby and Me swim class to come and get me.

Contrary to what I had hoped, Miss O was NOT having a good time. And, her swim teacher...let's call her Nazi Sheila...was determined that Miss O WOULD do certain things, even though Miss O would yell and cry to get out of the pool.

Now, I'm probably not being fair to the swim teacher, but I have to confess that I was really torn. Here's the problem.

Since Miss O was tiny, everyone who knows her realizes that she likes to be in control of her own destiny. For example, she will NOT eat certain things. If you try to force her, it gets UGLY. U.G.L.Y. Here's another good example. She's decided she likes pig-tails in her hair. But she doesn't want me to take them out because she's afraid of her hair being pulled. So, she'll do it herself. Now, the fact that she pulls out half a head of hair when she does it is beside the point. At least she knows who's doing it and what the outcome will be. Do you see where I'm going with this? She likes to be in control.

And she was NOT in control with swimming or Nazi Sheila. It was not necessarily a bad thing for her to experience (not that she gets her way here at's just that I know her and I know which battles to wage in order to win the war, so to speak).

I did get in the water with her one day (when she literally ran away and hid because she didn't want to put her suit on). I stayed out of the way and she was weepy and teary, but not screaming and pleading, and she finished her lessons. Ironically, once out of the water and finished for the day, when you asked how it was, she'd say, "It was great."

I think it also helped that Super J started swimming and practicing with her one on one on the Saturdays when Misses A & E have their swim classes (which they LURVES. They could have the most horrendous teacher and they'd still be so happy just because they get to be in the water wearing goggles).

So, anyway, today was supposed to be a "safety" day when Nazi Sheila had all her little "pikes" (swim level terminology) put on life vests. I should note that I was asked by Nazi Sheila early on to not be present for the swim lessons because she didn't mind that Miss O cried (not the first time a student has done this for Nazi Sheila, and probably not the last) and when Parents are in the area, the crying (aka: panicked) kids FREAK OUT even more. I was fine with that. I mean, I'm not trying to be mean, but I can appreciate where she was coming from.

ANYWAY! I thought today was going to be a "play" day, with treats and fun and frivolity, because the "testing" was done on Monday (which was a little slice of the hotplace for Miss O as well). Alas. Who knew "Life Vest Day" was going to be the Freakiest Swim Lesson of them All! Because Nazi Sheila wanted the kids to just simply float with the vest on, as if waiting for help.

Could Miss O simply float. Heck NO! She must cling for dear life to Nazi Sheila, but Nazi Sheila was bound and determined to have Miss O float independently. Two very headstrong females in the water at once. Nazi Sheila let the other kids go and kept Miss O for 25 extra minutes (hey! A free individual swim lesson! What could go wrong?).

Long Miss O finally floated independently whist reciting, then singing, the ABC's and was able to get out of the water. Nazi Sheila was satisfied. Miss O was just so glad to be out of the water. I, myself, was happy I'd restrained myself from jumping in the water to rescue my baby because I didn't want to send that message to Miss O: if there is something that is hard, if you cry and scream enough, you won't have to do it. Because, though I did not like the way Nazi Sheila did it, Miss O accomplished everything she needed to do to learn how to be safe in the water and to swim. Does she need more confidence in the water? Yes. Does she need more fun in the water? Yes...a thousand times YES.

So, in the end: I think it was a good experience for both Miss O and me. Will I put her in another swim class. Yep. Will I put her in another swim class with Nazi Sheila. Heck NO.

I appreciated the efforts Sheila made, but when it was all done, I felt emotionally frayed and can only imagine what my little 3.5 yr old felt.

But when I asked her about her swimming experience, she said it was great. Though she would not say "Thank you," "good-bye" nor wave to Sheila.

ps. Let me also just say that dropping kids off and collecting them for a half hour swim class gives you approximately 15 minutes of work-out time. Not ideal, let me just say. See? A learning experience.


Adrienne said...

Sorry. I am not as magnanimous. Who is this woman? It's like being a mean preschool teacher. Why are you here, you she-beast? Do you enjoy showing that you are bigger and stronger than 3 year olds? It's called bullying when there is no love present. And She-Beast Sheila is a bully. End. and FAIL to Sheila.

Rachel said...

Wow! I was just thinking how I need to get Heston signed up for swim classes at the Y. So glad to hear who not to take him to. Great story telling by the way. Loved it!

Colton Anne said...

Maybe in her next class she'll be so excited if she has a teacher that's less Nazi like and then just love the class and love swimming!! Good luck!

Nancy said...

I am not looking forward to swim lessons. I think we may need to take the "it's going to be embarrassing pretty soon that you don't know how to swim" approach with my almost 8 and now 6 year olds.