I love swimming and was fortunate to grow up with a swimming pool where my sisters and I spent most of our summer days. I’ve always envisioned having a pool as an adult, but so far this is not a reality. In some respects, I know this is a blessing because watching children around a pool can be a full-time job. But swimming was a really big part of my childhood and is a very big summer activity where we live, so I’ve never questioned that my kids would have to learn to swim.
When Gemma was about 15 months old we enrolled in some mommy and me swim classes. It was a fun activity but I am not sure I’d qualify it as educational for a baby; I can’t say either way if she actually learned anything from it, but at least it was an introduction to water.
This year, at 3 years old, and with daily temperatures hovering around 100 degrees, I made a commitment that I had to get her swimming at least halfway decently. Now that I have baby Summer, I need some assurance that Gemma won’t be in danger if we want to go swimming at my parents’ or sister’s house and I am responsible for them both.
I arranged ten private lessons for her and the experience is something to definitely be shared. This was hard work–for both of us. The teacher was intense; she was congenial but firm and at three Gemma, had never experienced anything of this nature. The first lesson was hard. Gemma has a very stubborn and independent personality and her swim instructor had zero tolerance for her negotiation skills. Oftentimes, when she is feeling fearful, she tries to lesson the blow of something new by thinking outside the box. I think this is a great skill that applies in many situations but in this particular one, her instructor mistook it for defiance and made her swim more and more before moving on in the lesson. This type of negative reinforcement is not something that I practice in my parenting style so I felt very uncomfortable with it. Truth be told, we both wanted to quit after the first lesson.