Swimming Lessons – sometimes being a good parent really sucks –

Swimming Lessons – sometimes being a good parent really sucks –

Safety is Not Negotiable

This week we start our second round of ISR swimming lessons (if you don’t know what it is, look here). Our amazing instructor is Nivine Anood (find her here, and here). Last summer we did six weeks of lessons to learn to float and today we started again. I am getting my twins up 2 hours early, driving 40 minutes, and then making them and myself miserable for 5-10 minutes, five days a week for the next six weeks. And why am I doing this? Because safety is nonnegotiable – For children ages 1-4 drowning is the leading cause of death (except congenital anomalies). I write this while I look out on the pool, and beyond at the beautiful river we live on; it doesn’t much matter how unhappy my boys (or our family) are about their swim lessons or how inconvenient they are. We cannot leave this to chance.

Child in life jacket
Safety starts with being comfortable in a life jacket in the water as well as on the boat.

We make our sons ride in the car seat. We don’t let them eat grapes or hot dogs without cutting them up. And they need to learn how to swim – or I can just never let them out of the house. Maybe with one kid, I might have pushed it a year or two (or gone with some blowing-bubbles-in-a-floatie kind of swim lessons). Despite our gated play area and child locks on the exterior doors twin toddlers are the definition of “I only turned my back for a second….” ISR swimming lessons are only part of a system of layers we use to try and keep them safe around water.

Boy watching water out a window
Watching and waiting for the day he can be out in the water safely. Water is everywhere around here and part of daily life.

Making your kids uncomfortable sucks

I never expected to be one of those mothers who couldn’t stand her child’s discomfort. When I am in my Auntie shoes, Tia Leah is a rock, and immovable object. Your tears have NO power over me. Seriously, kid. Save your drama for your mama. BUT! When one of my twins is crying I will practically do ANYTHING to make it stop. It’s some kind of primordial lizard brain thing. Logically, I know I can’t give in to their every whim. Intellectually, I make that decision on a regular basis. But it makes my stomach hurt when I see them in distress. And watching my son sign ‘please no’ in the pool today about killed me.

My twins did 18 months of physical therapy to overcome the difficulties they faced as nicu grads and preemies. I am not a stranger to incremental change that is the result of dedicated work. Last summer it took my twins the entire six weeks to be able to float on their backs. Already after three days we are seeing slight improvements. They cry right now the entire 10 minute lesson. They attempt gambits to stop a situation they feel out of control in. The say ‘mamamamamama’ until I’m pretty sure my heart will break.

Last summer we watched the bigger kids go from crying and sad to confident and excited over the course of six weeks. I’m hoping we get some of that this time around. The fact that our instructor is the kindest most patient person helps immensely. After weeks of struggle last summer when it finally ‘clicked’ for them she practically jumped for joy. She was certainly as excited as I was. I trust her completely and appreciate the gift she is giving my children.

Infant swimming
Being timed in his float. By the end of six weeks he could right himself onto his back and float for up to two minutes on his own.

Being a parent is balancing on a thin line

Knowing when to rush to your baby’s aid or when to tell him to be a big brave kid and face his fears is impossible. We can only make our best guess. I’ve put a priority on certain safety issues and tell the boys when they fight me on them, “Safety is Nonnegotiable”. I am certain that one day soon they will say it back to me. I haven’t gotten to “I’m doing this for your own good.” yet; but I’ll probably bust that out at some time. My dad would say “it builds character” or “offer it up for the greater glory of god.” Every family has a version of this, I am sure.

When all is said and done what I really want my kids to hear and understand is that “I am doing this because I love you and because it’s what I think is best.” And that is what I remind myself when I look in their little faces when we walk into the pool area. This when Mommy needs to pull up her big-girl-panties and be a Mom and not their friend.

Twins floating in winter clothes
Part of finishing the six weeks of lessons was proving they could float fully dressed in a real diaper and winter clothes. Even real heavy shoes. Kids dont always fall into water in their bathing suit.

Ill keep you updated as we go along this journey. It’s a hard one, but one I refuse to regret.

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5 Replies to “Swimming Lessons – sometimes being a good parent really sucks –”

  1. I’m a swimming teacher and a mom of a total water toddler. He was in the water since 6 weeks old and truly loves the water so it’s never really been hard to get him in the water. That being said I feel for you. A ton of my clients spend a ton of their lesson making mom or dad feel like they are being tortured. You are absolutely doing a great thing making sure are safe.

    1. Thanks so much for the validation. It was already better today, still crying but in more of an annoyed way than a I’m-trying-to-break-your-heart-mommy kind of way. We have been watching videos of animals swimming. And today both my guys made their doll babies pretend swim, so I am looking forward to seeing how they do next week. It helps so much to have a genuinely loving instructor. I know your clients and their parents appreciate you when all is said and done. Thanks for what you do. – Leah

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