Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Swimming and the boys - Episode 2

In the summer of 2013, we moved to Arizona. Now, who would not know swimming in Arizona. It is one hell of a hot place and the only way to stay cool during the summer is either stay indoors or stay in the pool. So, off we went swimming again. 

The first time we went into the pool, A was very relaxed and comfortable in the water. But S cried incessantly and was terrified of the water. I stood on the pool side, asked him to hold onto my hand and slowly cycle in the water and play with the water. I got him to relax the tension I felt in his arm. I spoke to him very patiently, comforted him in every way possible, assured him that swimming is safe and that he was not going to drown, enticed him with rewards if he swam well and so on. Slowly he got over the fear and started to cycle through the water from one end of the pool to the other end of the pool , with his floatie though. Looking at how he has been doing with swimming for the past so many years, I thought this was a great accomplishment for him. So, we celebrated with ice cream and extra play time too. 

S was very happy and was showing more interest in swimming. We then enrolled both the boys into a swim school near our house - I LOVE the swim school - IT IS SIMPLY SUPERB. S did well in the first few classes, but then he cried a lot in one class. We tried A for the Baby and Me swim level but then realized that he would do better in the StartFish level - in the Baby and Me level a parent has to get into the water with the child where as in the StarFish level they go into the pool only with the teacher. We wait and watch our little kiddos acquiring some water skills from the viewing glass...

On seeing S cry in the swim school too, we started to work harder on swimming at home too. So on one very hot Saturday evening (July 6th, 2013) we took the boys out swimming into the apartment pool at 4:30 pm thinking we would be done by 6:00 pm. S was all excited because he cycled through the pool earlier and he enjoyed it. So, as soon as we were in the pool he started to cycle and was very comfortable (but he had his floater on). The crying started when we asked him to jump into the water with his floater. He just did not want to do it. He dropped himself into the pool with one foot. I started to push him into the water with his floater so that he will understand that he will float and that the water will not hurt him. In the middle C even removed his floater and to our surprise, he was able to swim. He always found his way up. 
But to get him to jump by himself was another BIG challenge.On showing him that he was able to swim without the floater and hence would be able to jump and swim his way up, he always said, "Amma, you hold my hand and I will jump into the water." No matter how hard we tried to explain to him why that is not a good idea, he just did not budge from his stance. So, then I held onto him and he jumped. But because I was on the pool side, he could only jump how far my hand could stretch into the pool. We repeatedly told him and also showed him practically that it was not a good idea and that he would get hurt. But being the stubborn scorpio, he just would not listen. But during one such jump his chin hit the pool side and his chin got deeply cut. He cried a lot, not because of the pain from the cut but due to his fear of jumping into the water. But in the end, he jumped into the water not once but thrice and all on HIS OWN. And, he loved it - he loved jumping into the water so much that he wasn't ready to go home - he wanted to do more of it. But we had to stop him so that we could treat the cut which was already bleeding. It was 7:30 p.m, way over our planned time.

Ever since that day S neither cries in the water nor says "No" to trying new things while swimming. He is able to glide on his belly, make bubbles under water, go all the way to the floor of a 3-ft pool to fetch rings and is comfortable on his back. He waits for his swim classes every Thursday and asks for more. Above all, he lost his fear and that was happy news to us all. 

In fact the change was so drastic that; in the beginning of the summer, when we asked S if he likes swimming he replied, "Amma, I don't like swimming. Why do I have to learn something that I don't like?" And we answered in terms of safety and pool parties. But towards the end of summer, S tells me after every swim class, "Amma, now I am not afraid of the water. And I love swimming."

When C and I retrospect about that one day when we pushed S into jumping into the water, a battle of thoughts goes on "Did we push him too hard? May be he will learn how to swim but just at a much slower pace than his peers. But what if he misses out on those pool parties that his friends will invite him to? May be that is Ok. Why are we so bent on the fact that he has to know how to swim, why cant we just take it easy and let him learn what he is interested in? We are his parents and we always do anything keeping in mind our child's  best interest. As parents, we are responsible for bringing out the full potential of our children. How can we bring out the full potential without challenging them? How would he have lost the fear if we don't make him get over it? " and the battle goes on... 
We both still believe that if not for that day, S would still be scared of the water and would not like swimming. So in a way we are OK, but the question remains ...

...what is the extent to which we as parents can push our children to in achieving something that we consider good for them but they really do not care about? 

As of now, we just answer this question by our child's safety, but there will be more to think about as the kids grow...

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