As I'm sure I've mentioned 100 times, we have a trip to Hawaii planned with my family this summer! (Things haven't been so great health-wise in our house lately, and picturing our Hawaiian vacation is the only thing that got me through the day.)
Michael and I decided that we wanted to get June back in swim classes before we went, if only to get her more comfortable around the water. I took the recommendation of a bunch of Sacramento moms and went to a woman referred to as "the Swim Nazi." She was a delightful woman and wasn't super strict, so I think the moniker just comes from her...results?
I spoke with the woman on the phone and, just like the moms had stated, she said that her 3-4 year olds are usually swimming across the pool by the end of one of her bootcamps. Each session lasts for 7 business days, 30 minutes each and then you're done. (Much different than the 3x a week situation that lasted all last summer.) I was so excited and encouraged - maybe June would learn to swim so well that she and Kai can play in the pool together in Hawaii! Maybe I can take her out on a paddle board with me!
There were six kids in class with her. They were all so cute lined up in their swim suits and goggles together. We parents weren't allowed to stay and watch, but we were usually called in to watch the last few minutes to see what our kids had accomplished that day.
I was a little nervous after the first day. June told me that she hadn't wanted to put her face under water, but that all the other kids had. But by day two she was going under, and on day 3 I watched her jump into the pool on her own and kick over to the swim teacher!
I was impressed and excited, praised June and just about called to make my paddle board reservations.
And then day 4 happened.
I'm not sure exactly what happened (since I wasn't there), but there was an incident of June choking on some water and from that she was quite traumatized.
I remember when we went down to San Diego to celebrate the wedding of some friends last summer. June had LOVED the ocean and loved playing in it...until one wave hit her the wrong way, some water got in her nose and from that moment on she wouldn't come within twenty yards of the water. I remember going through this gauntlet of persuasion techniques (and range of emotions) while we were on a family walk down the beach. The rest of us were walking down by the water because walking on wet sand is much easier than walking on dry. June wouldn't even come down to where the sand was just damp but the water wasn't close. At first I felt sorry for her, went through a long time of cajoling and convincing and bargaining and promising, and eventually I was just frustrated and said, "Okay, fine, you can walk up there where the sand is dry."
Swim classes on days 5, 6 and 7 felt a lot like that walk down the beach.
They weren't great days. I was really trying to be supportive, understanding and encouraging when, to be honest, I was pretty frustrated. I was already taking an hour off work to go to daycare, change her into her bathing suit, put on sunscreen, drive to swim class, wait for it to be over, and repeat back on the way down. And to have the teacher call us parents in, and to see June sitting on the edge of the pool while the other kids were swimming, legit swimming, was disheartening.
I didn't know where to draw the line. What did June need? Did she need someone to be stern and tell her she needs to not give up? Did she need unconditional support and unwavering patience? I still don't know. I do know that June is strong and sensitive, and that when she gets something in her head, she's like a bulldog and won't let it go.
Some friends knew we were going to the Swim Nazi and asked me how it went, waiting for the verdict before signing their own kids up. I told them the truth - that it did appear that the teacher was gifted at what she does. I watched all the other kids go from just kicking their feet on the edge of the pool to all-out swimming in seven days. June was the only one who didn't, so I didn't want that one case to speak against the teacher's general ability.
We'll try again. We'll probably try one-on-one swimming lessons next. And I'm sure we'll come up against some of the same issues, and June will once again be out of her comfort zone, and I will once again find myself questioning if I'm parenting correctly.
For now, I guess it's good that I didn't make those paddle board reservations. Maybe for the next family vacation?