I took L to her second swim lesson yesterday with B in tow. It was a debacle. By five minutes in, she was in hysterics. Backing up a little, I took L to her first lesson on Tuesday. I’d taken her to the pool a few days before, and she’d had a great time playing in the shallow area, which ranges from 2 to 2.5 feet. She mostly walked along the side, but she also enjoy me holding her while she “swam.” Her first lesson started off well. She sat in the water with the other kids, two of whom were crying, and dutifully put her left ear, then her right ear in the water. She started getting a little alarmed when they made her blow bubbles, and after a couple rounds of the pool blowing bubbles with the teacher, she started freaking out. She off and on cried the last twenty minutes of class. Undeterred, I figured that she mostly didn’t like all the splashing and water in her eyes, so I ordered goggles overnight from Amazon. We splashed in my new big bathtub, and she seemed relatively psyched for lesson number two. Nevertheless, I was feeling pangs of anxiety as we headed into the pool. Something told me this was not going to go well.
The lessons are in deepish water, maybe four feet, and the kids sit on the steps. L was not to happy about me leaving her on the top step, and the waterworks started when the teacher moved her down to the second step (maybe six inches of water). I ended up sitting beside her, and she wouldn’t stop crying or let go of my hand. Please remember, I’ve got B in the Ergo the whole time, and all of us are getting soaked, L being the only one with a swimsuit. I made her sit there for twenty minutes but stayed with her and didn’t make her do anything more with the teacher.
The whole thing was extremely unpleasant on so many levels, and I really didn’t know how to handle it. Should I have stayed back and let me child remain in full hysterics and let the teacher deal with it? Should I have just pulled her out of the lesson and left when it was clear she wouldn’t be learning to swim? The teacher gave no guidance whatsoever as to whether she’d prefer I intervene or stay back. Honestly, I felt like other parents much have been judging me as some kind of harsh or abusive parent for making her stay for so long when she was so upset.
L wasn’t the only crying kid. Of the four kids in the lesson, on day one, there was major crying from three of the four, though the other kids seemed to get a bit happier as the lesson went on, while L deteriorated. On lesson two, two of the four were very happy, but the other kid didn’t even make it into the pool. His mom ended up leaving with him at some point.
L is used to having me around, but of course she’s been in the care of two different nannies, and in general, she does well with other adults in settings where there’s a low adult to kid ratio. However, she’s clearly not comfortable getting splashed nor with deep water. Clearly spending more time getting her used to the water would have helped. We haven’t gone to the pool much since I got pregnant with B. J is not into indoor pools, and it is extremely difficult for me to manage both B and L at the pool at the same time without help. I was happy with the idea of lessons that didn’t feature me in the pool, but at the Y, parent & child lessons weren’t an option anyway.
I do feel that the lesson could have been run a bit better. When three of four kids are crying hard in your lesson, that’s not a great sign. The two kids who are doing well practically know how to swim already. The can swim around with the little float on their backs and are 100% comfortable swimming with their face fully immersed. These are the lowest level lessons, and it seems to me that there’s a bit of an ability gap. L probably would have done a lot better if the first lesson had focused solely on getting comfortable with being in deep water without Mom around – just blowing bubbles, maybe some kicking and moving around in the water without her face immersed. I feel like with only four kids, the instructor could have tried to tailor things a bit more to their individual abilities.
Anyway, if you’ve read this far about preschool swim lessons, I’m impressed. After yesterday’s disastrous lesson, taking L and B to the pool on my own suddenly seems easy by comparison. Swimming is such an uphill battle around here. In my prenatal aerobics classes, the vast majority of the other women are clearly not swimmers. I love being in the water and swimming, and I’m determined to turn L into a swimmer. Hopefully I won’t traumatize her for life in the process.