Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Warning: Soapbox

So swimming is coming along, well, swimmingly. I have shown Evie the basic strokes (except butterfly) and she practices every week. She is getting quite good at the front crawl. Today we started our session by each swimming a continuous 1/4 mile. That was quite an accomplishment! We both allowed as how we COULD swim more but we were both ready for a break. We played around, we did swim a few more laps but didn't keep track. It was lovely.

When we swim there are a variety of swim classes happening with REALLY little kids. Inevitably there is one who is very scared and sad. I have to say the instructors are quite good with it all. They ask the parent to come over, encourage the kid etc. but if the child really doesn't want to be there the instructor just has them leave. Today I would like to complain about parents--parents who literally force their children to do things they are TERRIFIED of and that are really not necessary. There is the whole "putting you head under water" thing and today I was horrified by a mom who failed to protect her child from the terror of going down the water slide. Now, keep in mind that these kids are 3 at the oldest. The instructor is in the water to catch them, their heads never go under and another instructor will even go down the slide with them if they want to. It is into very deep water. There was one little one who was so scared he was literally screaming and shaking and clinging to his mom. His mother actually asked the instructor to forcibly remove her child and MAKE him go down the slide, clapping and smiling the whole time in supposed encouragement. HELLO?!? First of all, why do three-year olds need to know how to swim? Second, isn't it our job to protect our children? Doesn't that include supporting them emotionally in an age-appropriate manner? ADVOCATE FOR YOUR KIDS for heaven's sake!
ARRGH! I wanted to shake that mom and ask, "Is this what you want? Is this really worth it?"

I am a big advocate of what a friend refers to a "home swimming." If you like the water take your kid with you into the water. Evie didn't put her head in the water until she was 5, we were in Lake Michigan, she said "I'll be right back," dove under and swam. Now she wants to learn strokes, great. Either way she is comfortable in the water, safe in the water and not traumatized by early swim lessons. I understand it is hard to be a parent of a small child sometimes. It is not fair or right to take out your frustration by forcing your kid into a "class" so you can have a few minutes with someone else "in charge."

It is now someone else's turn for the soapbox. Thank you.


Anne said...

I agree completely! I hate to see parents pushing their kids to do things that they find terrifying.

Thanks for letting me check in with your lives. It makes me think about the activities I have available for my unschooling family.

denise said...

Hear, hear! We have been pressured and asked and talked to about putting our kids in swim 'class' but we decided that they would instead 'learn'(meaning, go to the pool) with us, at their own pace, in a nice fun safe environment, with US right there. And you know what? They are indeed doing those very things ON THEIR OWN. This summer my 5 year old started putting his face in the water and swimming around! As he gets older if he asks for lessons, great, if not, we will continue to enjoy going to the pool and swimming together as a family!


Eluciq said...

I agree...

Our boys' wanted to learn to swim when they were 4, so we put them in lessons at my folks pool, as in alaska we didn't have a pool at hand...one boy loved getting in and the other...well he liked wearing the goggles, but didn't want to join...so he just hung out and watched for a little bit, then joined in on his terms...both boys' had amazing college age instructors that knew more about kids then some parents...rohnan is now a strong swimmer...because he was not pushed into tears...how sad is that, huh?

oh and hear is a sad story...at the carbondale pool this summer...a boy about the age our children was encouraged to go off the diving board...and he got up on the board...and was scared sh&*less...he kept backing up, then going forward...backing up, then forward...with his mom and older sister yelling at him from inside the pool..."what are you a baby?"..."you can do it...you are tough..." blah...blah...blah...all I wanted to do is go hug that kid...well needless to say he didn't jump...he backed off the board...and then was punished for not going off...his dad made him sit at the picnic table and just lectured him up and down about not going off the diving board...I almost cried witnessing all of this...it was so sad! Our boys' were so distraught by it all...and couldn't believe what they were seeing. UGH!

moonflower said...

you know what, though? I'm sure those parents think they are doing the right thing for their children. Just as we all think WE are doing the right thing for our children. And we are all probably right, even though we do it all differently. I'm trying hard not to judge other parents, but it's such a personal journey.