Posted by: DD | June 28, 2006

No. 219 – Lessons

I have so many things I want to write about.

The house, which we may not be moving into right away after all;

Blogging etiquette;

Mr. DD’s SA, or lack thereof;

How preliminary adoption research is causing major freak outs minor anxiety attacks;

Breeding co-workers / friends;

The imminent death of Moe;

and even a review of a couple of movies we have seen in the past weeks of which I highly recommend you NOT see The Break Up, because they do and then the movie ends. Sorry…I should have preempted that with *Spoiler Alert*.

Instead, I think I will write about X’s swim lessons.

When X was 6 months old, I took him to the Y for his first swim lessons. He went again when he was a year old. You would think with that kind of early introduction, he would be a natural by now at 4 ½ years old. He’s not.

A few months ago I signed him up for Tadpole 1. Basic introduction to swimming without the parent. After the first 3 lessons, he was no further than the pool steps. His teacher focused on the other children who weren’t as timid and X was left forgotten and discouraged.

When a child is signed up, parents can take advantage and bring their child during an allotted time to practice one on one. X and I went and he screamed and cried in terror when I pulled him (wearing floaties) off the steps into the 3’ depth. The very moment his foot hit the pool floor, his crying stopped. This is fun, he said. I can do this by myself, he said. He was comfortable as long as he was within range of that wall where it was the shallowest. He did not graduate from Tadpole 1, but I was excited about his progress.

This new session has a different teacher. When X pulls away or tells her no, she drags him in anyway. From behind the large windows to the pool (parents are not allowed during regular sessions because they can be a distraction), I applaud how difficult that must be for her. X needs to know that she is so sure that he will be safe; his pleading to do otherwise will not be tolerated.

Last night she took the class from the 3’ depth to the 5’. She literally pulled X into the water wearing floaties and holding a noodle. There are 7 kids in the class. She instructed them to all “swim” down towards the boards, all with floaties and noodles. 5 took off like little ducks, the ends of the noodles waving behind them like little wing buds. The instructor had to take X and another boy by pulling them in the water beside her. When they reached the boards, the five got out and lined up to go off the boards. X and the other boy were “parked” on the edge as they did not want to jump off the board.

As I watched X dangling there, holding the pool edge, I saw the utter terror in his face. When he caught my eye from behind the window, he turned away and I saw that he was choking back tears. My heart broke open.

I forced myself to not run into the pool area and pluck him out of the water and pull him in close. I forced myself not to think about what would happen if he let go and he slipped under the water with the teacher’s focus on the other kids jumping off the board. In that moment, all the fear, uncertainty, sadness, and even shame I had been feeling about my own circumstances were seen on his small face, just under a different guise. I left the parent’s area brushing away tears. I knew the struggle he had to put on a brave face in front of me. I do it everyday at work with my friends and at home with Mr. DD. Even though our reasons were totally different, the feelings that X was having at the moment were the same as mine, and I hated myself for putting him in that position too damn soon.

Shortly after, the class was over and the teacher assisted her students out of the pool. I met X with a towel and told him I was so proud of him. He asked me if I thought he did a good job, and I told him he did a perfect job, and hugged him close. I didn’t ask if he was scared or if he had fun. I didn’t want to remind him of that moment.

He told me this morning he doesn’t want to go back to his swim lessons. He has two more sessions left. I want him to realize that he can overcome that fear on his own, but I don’t know how to explain that to him without having to actually experience it. It made me realize that this was the first time I had ever NOT come to his rescue when I knew he needed rescuing. He may be the one taking the class, but it is me that is learning the hard lesson: only one person can help me overcome life’s fears, and that’s me.



  1. I do so wish that I lived closer DD. The munchkin also has a fear of the swimming pool and I got tired of taking him to look through the outdoor windows at the pool (he won’t even go into the pool area). He loves the beach and the lake in the summer but he’s so nervous of swimming pools (he’s never even been in one).
    I often get impatient with all his fears but I also respect them and don’t force anything. I figure he’s got a lifetime ahead of him where he’s going to have to do things he’d rather not.
    Thanks for the e-mail. You made me cry when you said he was beautiful. I’m not sure why the crying but I’ve hit that one full month from the miscarriage milepost so I’m kind of a mess.
    Hugs to X (and you although not to Mr. DD as I’m sure he’d decline)

  2. Ouch what a tough lesson. I don’t know that I would push him on this. But that’s just me. Some kids have a tough time getting over the fear of water. I taught my ex-boyfriend’s two nieces and one nephew to swim and they all had different comfort zones. My aunt is a swim instructor and she’s never forced a kid to do something they were not comfortable with. But you are there watching so you know best. Let us know what you do next. Good job mom!

  3. {HUGS} That is tough. Thinking of you.

  4. Indeed.

  5. What a big picture microcosm. Fear is awful, but X was amazing at working on getting through his.

    J was 6 1/2 before he finally passed a swimming class. For him, it was the goggles. He suddenly didn’t mind the pool if he could keep his eyes dry. Someone recommended them, and I thought that was just too simple.

    Today, he swam across the pool for the first time – no extra support. I was so proud, I clapped in glee, but he said he didn’t see me. I remembered him failing peewee swimming, how he clung to me year after year to where I stopped trying for a long time, how he refused to put his face in. He’s conquered all that. Today, his limit was jumping off the diving board. He did it once and refused to go back, but afterwards, he repeatedly dove off the lip at the side. He’s doing it one step at a time with his own pace. J’s teacher, who he had twice two years ago, is an old woman who pushes – sometimes that works, sometimes not.

    It sounds like X has found his pace. It might now be yours, but he know what feels good for him. And, similarly, you’re still finding your pace, too.

  6. I meant to say something about Moe. I know how hard this stuff is. I know how rough he’s had it. I hope this can be a peaceful time together.

  7. Parenting is just so damn hard, isn’t it? I’ve never been in that situation with The Boy yet, but I would be inclined to let him quit, even though I would not want to send the message that it’s okay to just quit. Let me know what you decide to do.

  8. Wow. tears. My heart is aching for you. This is a great life lesson, though.

    PS sorry for not putting my website’s addy. I’m just getting started, but I’d love to hear from you via e-mail, if you get a moment. I, too, am struggling with “round two infertility”. Of all the blogs I’ve been reading, I feel I can identify most with you. Its so great to feel like I’m not alone. So thank you so much.

  9. He’ll get there DD.
    Mag STILL won’t put her face in OR jump in from the side. I enrolled her in Mommy & Me classes. That didn’t help since she clings to me and won’t blow bubbles or put her head in when she floats on her back.
    I think that’s because she gets recurring ear infections and the water hurts her ears.
    We have a pool at home and I just wanted her to be able to get to the side if (God FORBID!!) she ever fall in or get into trouble in the pool.

  10. Ooooooooooo. That’s deep. Great post.

    This kind of writing can make you discover so much about yourself. Not only is it wonderful therapy, but it’s the cheapest too.

  11. Oh, DD, how heartwrenching that must have been. I think you’re both amazingly strong and brave. And that you will both figure out a path. Hugs and kisses.

  12. Poor X, poor you. Swimming is the one sport that the Cutie Pie seems comfortable with- I guess because its an individual thing. Karate and T-ball he liked until he realized that people watched him (during the mid-semester show, when he’s at bat) and then he wouldn’t go back anymore. I too have struggled with the ‘I want him to learn to finish what he starts and to keep at something even it feels hard’ thing but he’s been so obstinant that we ended up dropping both before the end. So for now, swimming is the only activity we are doing because its the only one that doesn’t seem to wig him out.
    PS- I want to hear more about adoption research wigging you out and blogging etiquette.

  13. oh gosh, this is so hard and so sad.. a nd man. my heart breaks for you…

  14. Great post DD. I had one that was a natural fish and the other was absolutely terrified of the water. She’s tremble she was so scared. Then one day she was watching her brother have fun splashing around and she just jumped in. She never looked back.

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