G-Man has been teaching me a great lesson this summer, even while I've been trying to teach him. Though G-Man really loves swimming in our pool, as of the beginning of the summer, we couldn't get G-Man to get his face wet, jump off the side, or even think of swimming without his "floatie."
It's been making me a little crazy. He's been taking classes at The Little Gym, and his favorite thing to do is to climb things and jump off of them. I have been telling him all summer (in truth, I've been telling him this since he was 2) that jumping off a balance beam is the same as jumping off the side of a pool and that he would love it.
No dice. He wasn't interested.
And that can be so frustrating as a parent. I just want him to LISTEN TO ME, trust that I KNOW WHAT I'M TALKING ABOUT, and DO WHAT I SAY.
But sometimes, you just have to experience things to know.*
So, instead of forcing G-Man to try the different aspects of swimming (full disclosure - I actually tried to make him jump off the side of the pool and teach him to swim. Not so successful...), I decided I'd better find a way to shape his swimming experience differently. That, or I was going to end up with a 12 year old who still had to swim with a floatie while his little sister swam circles around him. (L has no fear in the pool. That's a different challenge for another day.)
We were lucky enough to hear about an amazing swimming teacher from my friend Natalie. This teacher lives around the corner from us and teaches in her backyard pool. And then we were lucky enough to get a few lessons scheduled with her. (Which took a while to get scheduled. Because she's that awesome.) There were some major tears during the first lesson, but after his teacher promised him several times that she would NEVER push his head under and would NEVER force him to do anything that he couldn't do, his trust in her and his confidence slowly started to grow.
The first few lessons were still filled with tears, but then all of a sudden...
He was still hesitant in our pool, but after swimming with some friends one afternoon at the end of June, he realized jumping off the side of the pool was fun. After our friends left, he kept jumping and quickly progressed from jumping off the small wall into the shallow end to this:
We just returned from a vacation to Utah and had another swimming lesson with his teacher. Monday afternoon, for the first time ever, he wanted to take his floatie off and swim without it.
I'm amazed by it. Watching kids figure things out was the greatest joy I had as a teacher, but it's on a whole new level watching my child figure something out. He earned that confidence. He earned the joy he feels when he jumps in the pool or tries a new trick. No one can take that away from him.
And as I'm facing down some challenges that I need to just push through, I'm watching and learning from my little swimming buddy.
Sure proud of you, G-Man.
* I swear, this is the most frustrating part of parenting. I understand that agency and choice are something I signed up for on this adventure here on the planet, and I understand that means other people have free will and the right to exercise it, but it's different watching someone you gave birth to exercise their free will. It's actually kind of awful to watch. I'm trying to get better about calmly guiding my little people instead of seizing control of their lives, but it's so hard...