So our four-year-old son finally started swim lessons last week. It was not pretty. I knew he would be anxious, try to cling to me a bit, protest the pool and grip the side with trepidation, but I certainly wasn’t prepared for what actually transpired.
I’m afraid I have a “thinker” on my hands here; and unfortunately, he had lots of time to dream up all kinds of near-death scenarios that might occur at the hands of some unknown swim instructor in the depths of a large public pool. During the days leading up to his first lesson, our little guy asked lots of questions and played out certain events, which included him sinking to the bottom of the pool or choking on loads of water. Finally he voiced his ultimate fear as I pulled on his swim trunks for the evening. He simply looked at me and said, “I don’t want to die,” then burst into tears. Talk about breaking a mother’s heart. I wanted to call off the whole thing then and there and make all his fears magically go away; but instead, I just held him in my arms and made promises I was fairly sure I could keep.
As we waited for lessons to begin, he excitedly watched older kids swim laps and splash around in the water, but I could still see those wheels turning in his head. He admitted it looked like fun, but he also said he was nervous. I tried to rest his fears again, knowing that learning to swim would be best for him. . . someday. Talk about “tough love.”
Lessons started right on time, and that is when it all when downhill. When the perky young swim instructor tried to take his hand, he instead reached for mine. As I tried to coax him into going with her, the tears started flowing. With her approval I walked my bawling and red blotchy-faced boy to the other side of the pool and tried to help him into the instructor’s arms. Nope, nothin’ doing. Again, thoughts of calling off the whole thing entered my mind, but I quickly pushed them aside and got down to business. In as comforting a voice and manner as possible, I forced my child into the innocent-looking swimming pool. While all (I mean every last one of) the other children easily grasped the metal trough, smiled and blew bubbles, my son clawed his way up to the cement rim, hung on with both arms and refused to move.
At this point, what’s a good mom suppose to do? I handed the reins to the instructor, slowly backed away from the pool. . . and whipped out the camera. Yep, as if the little love of my life wasn’t traumatized enough, I proceeded to add insult to injury, perhaps scar him for life, and capture the whole thing in pictures (at least I didn’t film it). I know I should be ashamed of myself, learn a life lesson and yadda, yadda, yadda. . . but I got this really good shot of him with a big ol’ tear running down his cheek.
I’d like to think that one day (when he’s doing swan dives on his own) he will forgive me, be thankful and forget that any of this ever happened. . . but of course I always have the photos to remind him.