A Lesson from My Little Girl: Swimming in The Metaphorical “Deep End” of the Pool

“Did you see me, Mommy? Did you see me dip my head in the water?” my little girl excitedly inquired. “Yes, I did! I’m so proud of you, honey!” I exclaimed. My little girl went from panicking and crying when getting her hair washed about a half year ago to standing in a swimming pool without me by her side eager to learn and follow her teacher’s instructions.

Just about seven weeks ago, I enrolled my four year in swim lessons at Kids’ First Swim after she expressed an interest in to learning swim. I wasn’t sure how well she would do without me considering that she was very nervous when she was a little over a year taking lessons in the water with me. To my surprise, she did not cry and readily got into the water. She did inform me ahead of time, however, that she does not like getting water in her eyes and ears because of the “funny feeling” she gets, which is understandable.

Nevertheless, on level one, one of the skills was for Quinn to bob her head under water five times, so I knew this would be a major hurdle for her. In week one and two, she did everything but put her head under water; I could see the uncertainty in her eyes. Before going into the water during week three, she said, “Mommy, I know I have to put my head under water, and I’m trying really hard, but I’m just nervous.” I reassured her that it’s okay to be nervous and that the more she is in the water the more comfortable she will feel.

That day, I observed her through the one-way mirror as she slowly put her little chin in the water. After class, she asked if I saw her, and I smiled and told her I did, to which she responded, “You see, Mommy, it may take me some time, but I’m going to get there, you’ll see!” By the fifth class, she was making progress but still not quite getting her head under  water, so I sat her down and we talked about her possibly needing to take level one again.

I was impressed that she was not upset but  was just eager to try again so that she can continue to improve. I asked, “Are you enjoying learning how to swim?” Quinn smiled and said, “Yes.” I asked, “Are you having fun?” In an even louder and confident voice, Quinn said, “Yes, Mommy!” She then said, “As long as I try my best, that’s okay, right Mommy!?” I smiled and told her, “Absolutely!”

Last week, we started a new session on level one, and Quinn put her head all the way under the water for the first time and arose with this huge smile on her face demonstrating how proud she was of herself.

This is one of many experiences my daughter will have which will present a challenge, and I just love the way she’s handling it. I just hope I continue to handle it as well as she does with the many challenges  and hurdles that may take us both in the “deep end” of life.

All the best,

Tanya

A Swimmingly Fun Summer with My Little Girl

With a big smile on her face, my four year old said, “Look at me, Mommy! I’m swimming!” Actually, she was doing something I recall doing as a child: wading in the water and moving my arms back and forth to give the illusion that I was swimming. When Quinn was not quite a year and half, my husband and I signed her up for swim lessons and figured she’d do fine since she loved playing in her bath tub water. However, once in a much larger body of water, an olympic sized swimming pool at a nearby college, my poor baby would cling onto me for dear life. We thought that perhaps she could sense my nervousness, so my husband decided to go in with her. While she did much better and even seemed to be having fun on an occasion or two, one of the instructor’s methods was immersing the child fully in the water, just for a second or two in a playful way, but my little girl was having none of that. She looked absolutely terrified. After that, it was extremely difficult to get her in the water without clinging on to my next or my husband’s neck.

We figured that it was normal and that she’d eventually become relaxed and more comfortable in the water, as some of the other children, ranging from under a year up to age three, but after a couple of months she still seemed anxious yet was not able to verbalize how she was feeling. At that point, we thought it was best to not continue lessons and to revisit them once Quinn showed an interest and could tell us what she wanted.

In the months and few years that followed that experience, she does enjoy water play and being in the ocean holding my hand, and being in a large swimming pool is a totally different experience for her: certainly more fun! Based on how she’s been enjoying the water in an actually swimming pool this summer, I think she just might be ready for swim lessons again.

We even talked about it on a few occasions, and unlike when she was a year and a half and unable to tell me what frightened her or made her uneasy about swimming, at four years old, she had no problem telling me, “Mommy, I just doesn’t like it when water gets in her eyes.”  This is understandable because I don’t like that either, so we went shopping to pick out some Paw Patrol goggles. Not too far from “The Little Gym,” where Quinn takes classes, a new swim school geared towards children opened up, so I plan on looking into it to see if it’s a good fit for her. I’m hoping that my little girl will “really” be able to swim or at least feel more comfortable in a large swimming pool in the years and summers to come.

All the best,

Tanya