Tuesday, January 15, 2008

On the flip side

Chip’s swimming classes aren’t going as swimmingly as I would like them to be. The culprit obviously is Chip, but, the proximity of the water slides are also blame. Take yesterday for example. When I went to pick him up from his school, I had to wait until he finished making tea in the (toy) microwave a dozen times. Running out of patience and the desire to use the restrooms, I have to lure him with the promise of swimming. “Don’t you want to go swim, Chip?” I ask chasing him with his coat. He stops mid track and beams. “Yay! Let’s go swimming!” We sit inside the car and I think its time to tell him the truth. “We have to go for a swimming class today, Chip.” His forehead has deep furrows. “Aaj (today) no Mr.Eric, Aie.” He declares in his Minglish. “Mr. Eric yenar Mondayla (Mr.Eric will come on Monday). “Today IS Monday.” “Today is Monday?” he repeats after me. “I don’t like Mr.Eric” “Oh nonsense.” I brush him off. “He is so nice. You can dump water on him and sing songs with him. Yes?” “No” he replies grumpily. “I want noosta (only) swimming. No swimming class.”

If I thought an hour or so before we headed to the pool helped, it wasn’t so. BigGeek accompanied Chip into the water as my mom and I sat on the bleachers looking at the fun (not!). Despite BigGeek’s cajoling, Chip refused to get into the pool. He wanted to go on the water slides and just play. After much whispered conversations they finally got into the pool and joined in the activities. While other kids listened quietly and followed (or tried to follow) directions, Chip’s attention was drawn by the kids playing on the water slides, then the lifeguards walking past. He refused to kick his legs and move his arms. He simply clung onto BigGeek’s neck and squirmed with all his might. Extremely annoying and extremely frustrating.

Sitting on the bleachers, watching BigGeek struggling with him, I wonder if Chip has developed a phobia for water. I remember this past summer when Chip jumped into the pool without fear or our trip to Florida where he refused to play in the baby pool because if offered no buoyancy. Later in the locker room I ask Chip if he is afraid of the water. “No”, he replies shaking his head. “Chip is not afraid of water.” He pronounces to me and BigGeek.

Chip is simply not getting anything out of the lessons which has made me think if I am pushing him too much. I thought the lessons would be fun. When I was growing up, the preferred method of teaching kids to swim was to push them into the deep end of the pool and watch then gasp and claw and kick. Kids generally figured out how to stay afloat after going under a few times. That was hardly ideal, so the classes, I thought would teach me how to teach. And I have got some excellent pointers, no doubt. But I have also realized that formal instruction, even if it is cloaked in songs and fun-stuff is not for Chip. Not at this age. He is just not ready yet. And it gets exasperating not only for him, but also for me. I don’t want to turn into a hypercompetitive parent who wants their kid to be a swimmer and soccer-player and a neurosurgeon and an astronaut and a black belt karate master and a surfer and a pianist. Buckaroo Banzai, Chip is not and certainly won’t be.

So I am wondering if I should continue with the classes at all. There are five more sessions to go. I would just rather take him to the pool and let him have fun and figure water by himself. Because the whole point of sports is to go out there and have fun, isn’t it? And if not sports, the whole point of childhood certainly is.

19 comments:

GettingThereNow said...

I think I agree more with the "let him play and figure water out by himself". There'll be time still for calsses in future. If he finds the classes boring, it could even turn him completely off of swimming. And frankly, I'd love to go on the water slides if given the choice :P

DotMom said...

that's what I am afraid of that when he is a bit older he will be completely put off swimming...

Preethi said...

I agree with letting him play and figure it out by himself.. after all swimming needs to be a fun thing.. and if he doesn't think the classes are fun.. maybe he is not ready for them yet!! The water slides do sound like fun.. indulge him!! :)

Kodi's Mom said...

why do worry abt fear of water when he loves the water slides so much? I think your judgement of the classes being too early for him is right - or maybe he can play in the slides before/after the classes as a lure...just so he'll give them a fair shot before you cancel them.

DotMom said...

preethi: okay.. yours is the second vote.

kodi's mom: We tried letting him play on the slides either before or after classes.. but it tired him out a LOT. He is so sleepy and tired and dinner becomes an impossibility.

B o o said...

After reading your post, I think Ashu likes the swimming class and tries to follow the instructions because thats the only time she gets into a pool and she loves the water. So you can cut back the pool time a little to see if he enjoys the classes more. But you can stop the classes if hes not enjoying at all. Tricky!

DotMom said...

b o o: we only go twice a week for the class.. 30 mins each..maybe another 30 mins on saturday if we get the time..he just looks at the slides and wants to play there.

Gauri said...

Honestly Dottie - this is what we do with Abhay too - let him play in teh water - just play in teh pool - no instructors and stuff. That way he's begun to love the water as well. Classes can come later.
Once they develop a feel and love for water, at a later age, I really don't think swimming classes will be perceived as boring.

Moppet's Mom said...

It depends on the class, I think. The one Moppet and I used to go to had very little formal instruction, it was mostly games and exercises designed to help the kids learn balance, breathing and swim movements.

This one doesn't sound like much fun for Chip. I'd say there's no point in forcing him to go if he isn't having fun. I'd say continue to take him swimming regularly - let him play and enjoy the water, and at some point, he'll want to learn how to swim himself, and he'll ask you to teach him....

Vinita said...

This is his first time so let him play all he wants. Kids this age don't take instructions well especially if it hinders their play and fun time. This is the time for him to get used to water and just enjoy. You can give him lessons after he turns five and within a week he will have (if not mastered) learnt all the strokes. We as parents sometimes make a big deal of small things. We are afraid that our child might be the last one on the block to know swimming.(or any other activity) Trust me I have been there and done that. And its that fear that we keep pushing them or as I would think "wanted to give them the opportunity". But they do it only when they are ready. And as soon as they are ready they WILL let you know and thats the time to catch. Elementary school is the right time to do everything..all the "sanskaars". Don't wait till middle school then its too late. (mag tyanna shinga phutatat:))

You are a great mom so don't worry.
And do take him to that class regularly.. don't leave it half way thru.
Vinita

DotMom said...

gauri: that's what I am thinking!! the classes are really well designed though and all other ids listen.

moppet's mom: The classes are not formal stroke instruction.. its too early for that. They are designed to make kids comfortable in the water. playing games and singing rhymes..silly activities like blowing bubbles in the water and dumping small pailfuls of water on heads. All other kids listen and try to follow. EXCEPT Chip.

Vinita: You have been my alter ego (aila.. you are marathi too.. YAY!!!!!!) This is not technically his first time in the pool.. He has been in the last two seasons to play etc. But what you say is true baout making a big deal of the small things.. I don't care if he is the last person on the block to learn stuff. What bothers me is his ummm... utter disregard for instruction. He seems to thrive on the "I know better than anyone" mentality already!!! Let's see hos today's class goes.

Ananva said...

I would say if he enjoys spending time in the pool and is not afraid of water, then let him be. What more will you accomplish with the lessons at this age? For what it's worth, I took my then 7 month old daughter for swim lessons last October. I doubt if she'll even remember them.

choxbox said...

his minglish is very cute!

Mona said...

i would agree.
btw, i learned swimming the same way you did. crazy, but effective huh?
let him enjoy the water. given a chance, i'd love to get into a pool and just splash around.

david mcmahon said...

As a parent and a (former) swimmer and a sportswriter, you hit the nail on the head when you said the whole point of sport was having fun.

Yep, you're so right.

The TAAMommy said...

Can you get a refund and switch classes. He likes to swim, just not the teacher and the slides are definitely distracting. The place where T goes to swim in the Y, there is no such slide, just lanes for people to do laps. If it is too late to change, maybe from next session you can. !! That might be a big help.

DotMom said...

ananva: true!

choxbox: and hilarious :)

mona:me too, truth be told!

david: thanks.. good to know I have an expert validation :)

taamommy: I doubt it.. but its worth asking..

dipali said...

Just let him enjoy being in the water! He's obviously not attuned to either the teacher or the class- let him be happy:)

DotMom said...

dipali: You think? there is only 3 more sessions left.. will finish those and then it is only water play time :)