I often feel as though I’m struggling to keep my head above water, nearly drowning in my endless sea of parenting, household, and career. One thing’s for sure, I’m never bored. This week has brought a fun new challenge in our world: swimming lessons with the kids. Considering these are the very first swimming lessons for both kids, we chose to do a parent-child swim so we could assist and protect our little fishies-to-be.
Looking in a mirror, Q is the carbon-copy, feminine version of her dad. Her eyes, lips, body shape, and even her fingernails don’t lie. She is daddy’s girl. But her brain, on the other hand— she got that from me.
Our personalities are so similar it’s almost frightening. She's dramatic, sensitive, opinionated, shy but outspoken, always under-stimulated but leery of change, and amazingly creative yet in need of direction. I’m thinking it was because our personalities are so alike that I assumed she would love the water from the start as I did when I was a child.
Ah, but for some reason I forgot the essential rule of parenting my Q: NEVER assume anything, because undoubtedly the unfortunate assumer will be thwarted. Side note: I looked up ‘thwarted’ to be sure it was the most accurate terminology to describe my never ending struggle. Thwart (verb): 1 – to oppose successfully, 2 – to frustrate or baffle. Yep, that’s the right word.
So, our first lesson began with my darling girl squealing, “I’m scared, I’m scared, I’m scared, I’m scared!” the very second our toes touched the water in the zero-depth entry to the pool. I assumed that as our lessons went on, her confidence would increase. [Yes, the joke's on yours truly].
Sometime during the first lesson, Q slipped a little somehow, and her head accidentally went [barely] underwater. After a small sputter and cough, she screamed and cried for about one minute. After that, she was fine. She even told us later that night that she thought the little mishap was “fun”. Ummm…okay.
Before our second lesson, we were informed by our sweetie that she would not be going underwater EVER again. And boy has she achieved that goal! Mission accomplished--by clutching our necks in a nearly unbreakable death grip. And again, with the "I'm scared!", only this time in more of a shrieking manner, followed by “I WANT TO GET OUT! GET ME OUT!” Thank God the pool is noisy and there are a ton of kids doing lessons at the same time, so only half of the parents (whose children, by the way, are all swimming like fish) were staring at us.
Another side note: the death grip and shrieking were accompanied once by a BITE on my chest that I think surprised Q as much as it did me. I can’t explain why she did this, and I think it was involuntary but worth mentioning to emphasize her ghastly fear.
Oh dear. Seven more lessons to go, and at this rate we’ve taken a huge step back each time. Looking on the positive side, she still looks forward to going each night, so at least we have that. And by the way, little 15 month old L love, love, LOVES swimming lessons. He is instantly calmed by the water. He laughs throughout the lessons, and shows not the least bit of fear or ambivalence. The child is a dream in the pool.
So what can I learn from all of this? Yes, I need to stop assuming anything. And I suppose I’m going to have to be patient for her trust and confidence to develop. Maybe while I wait, I should try to trust in my family, my friends, and my God to build my own confidence—as a wife, mother, and nurse—and somehow in the process ward off my own “can’t keep my head above water” feeling. Either that, or I just get crazier.