Wednesday, 15 October 2008

Day 15: Making a Splash

Today was a Good Parenting Day. I don't feel like they happen terribly often right now, so I'm trying to celebrate them when they do. And I can't up with anything of significance for pilgrimage, so this will have to do!

Today was the first day of Pirate Jim's swimming lessons. He's been having them since he was 5 months old, but we've been having a hiatus since about April this year.

The pool where we used to go, very nearby, had a change of management at the start of the year, and all their good, experienced swimming teachers left. It took 5 weeks (that's half the term) before they had a permanent instructor for his class, and although I'm sure she was fully qualified, and probably really good with older kids, she wasn't very experienced, and didn't know how to handle a grumpy 2 year old.

She and PJ never clicked, and he hated going to lessons. I was determined to see the term through, but he howled every time the lesson started, refused to do as he was asked and often I had to physically force him to sit on the side of the pool for the 30 minute duration of the class.

The instructor just didn't know how to deal with his behaviour. The other kids in the class were a little older, and advanced more quickly, than PJ, and as the term wore on, she didn't seem to be able to tailor any of the drills to PJ's lower standard.

He hated it, I hated it, and I don't think the instructor much liked it either. It was terribly demoralising when he would leap up as soon as the class was over and dash for the toddler pool, where he would happily splash about for as long as I'd let him. He just hated the classes.

So we took a break over the winter terms.

I did some research and talked to other parents, and decided to enrol PJ this term at a pool about 15 minutes drive away.

This afternoon was his his first class.

I was pretty apprehensive, I have to admit. I went along fully prepared to bribe him into the water with anything (up to and including a pony), and even took my own bathers in case it took me getting into the water as well to make him stick it out.

I had been talking it up all week, and PJ was actually quite keen. We talked about all the other kids having lessons as we walked into the pool, and he was thrilled to see there was shallow toddler pool there. We got changed and he asked if he could go into the small pool.

"Yes", I said, "but only if you come out straight away when your class begins." He agreed, and when the whistle blew at 5:00 to signal the class change-over, I asked to come out. He did. First hurdle!

There were two other little girls in the class, and a very young-looking instructor. I've nothing against young at all, but after last time, I was worried that it would equate to "unable to handle toddlers".

But I needn't have worried. Another two instructors appeared, so there was one for each child. Within a few minutes PJ's instructor had him happily being towed around, although he was keeping a weather-eye on me sitting on the sidelines. But in less than 10 minutes, he had PJ totally focused on the exercises, and when they took the kids out of my line-of-sight, PJ didn't even notice.

After 20 minutes, I could see PJ leaping, unaided, from the side of the pool.

I was so proud of PJ today. He was clearly a little nervous about the new big people he had to deal with, but he was calm and (eventually) focused. And he obviously enjoyed it! After all, that's the main goal.

H came tearing up to me when the 30 minutes were up, and wanted to go back into the toddler pool. I explained that no, we had to go home to Papa and the Princess, and then he couldn't wait to get dressed and home to tell them all about it.

And now I think he's actually gone to sleep after only 10 minutes.

Good Parenting Day, I tell you.

Remind me of this when next I'm on the look-out for gypsies, will you?

edited to add: The Word for Friday is synchronise


Bells said...

You rock George. Remember this next time you're having a rough day with PJ, ok?

knitting sprouts said...

we have a very similar swimming lesson story and now my pirate wants to go every day. it is great when it clicks for them and they see the fun to be had

Rose Red said...

Yay for good parenting days - I can only imagine how much of a relief that must have been.

Kuka said...

Hooray - sounds like PJ had an excellent time!
Interestingly, I had a very similar discussion with my boss about her almost 6 year old today =)
ps A pony?!!! - careful your Veronica Mars is showing hehe (that's one of my favourite lines)

2paw said...

I think all parents have good and bad days, but the good days are the ones the children remember. What a releif about the new swimming teachers!! Swimming should be a happy thing, not a trauma. Learn to Swim is on for MrsDrWho's class next week, so there will be damp children everywhere. Hope you all have a wonderful night's sleep!!!

Five Ferns Fibreholic said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Five Ferns Fibreholic said...

With three kids I have a few swimming lessons stories myself. But the best one is with my youngest when he was 3. At the completion of the first class he started running around the deck of the pool, when I finally caught him, he cried because he didn't want to go home. He loved the class

It's one of those funny after a couple of years stories but at the time, chasing him around the pool side, I was probably looking for gypsies myself.

Em said...

As far as I can tell, not having any wee-tiny creatures of my own, parenting is just like anything else in life, in that there are good days and bad days. Also as far as I can tell, it's easier to have good days when a) you are incredibly rich and have a staff of dozens, b) your child is actually an alien being pretending to be perfect to take over the world, or c) your child is sedated. Since none of those seem to apply in this case, and you still seem to have more good days than bad, I'd say you come out on top.

Alwen said...

Very early in my "Letting our child go out into the world" experience, I had a taste of the huge difference a different teacher could make.

It's a little harder when he goes to a three-room school and has the same teacher in 3rd through 6th grade, though.

Geek Knitter said...

A pony? I'd have done anything for a pony when I was PJ's age... Heck, that bribe would probably still work!

kms said...

oh yay! yay for you and pj! i still remember my infant swimming lessons, i was scared and it was indoors and my mum was...well, my mum, but i am glad i had them anyway - learning to be a confident swimmer is such a gift!

Anonymous said...

Yay you for making the change - I remember a similar story with Hamish....makes all the difference when they are happy to get in.

TinkingBell said...

Ha good parenting is any day we all come out alive!!

That said - the teacher makes a huge difference. I really need to take the kids back and get them wateresafe - again! (I nearly said waterproofed, which is a rather different kettle of fish!)

Lynne said...

Yay for PJ! and Good Parenting days!!
When DD was less than 12 months old I took her to Water Awareness classes. We had a pool at home and I wanted her to know what to do if, God forbid, she ever got in unsupervised. I admit it was a coolish summer but DD screamed every day for the whole class [even though I was in the pool with her]. Then she would come home and spend another hour in our pool - all smiles! Sometimes I think they just want to work us over!! :-)