Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Swimming lessons

When we moved into our house, we decided that it would be very important to make sure that our kids know how to swim. For 2 main reasons. First, we live near a lake. And although we can’t access it from our yard, our neighbors can – they actually access one of 3 short ‘channels’ that were cleverly incorporated into the man-made lake when it was created, in order to maximize the number of ‘waterfront’ lots (someone probably made a lot of money off of that one). Our lot is just off the corner of one of these ‘channels’ so that the neighbors next to us and behind us (we live on a corner) both access the channel but we do not. But we do have very nice neighbors behind us who let us go through their yard whenever we want to get to the channel (Ron takes the older girls fishing fairly often off of their dock platform) and their gate is not kept locked. Second, the neighbors next to us (not the behind-us-ones) have an in-ground pool and their gate does not have a lock on it either. We have combination locks on our gates but there are times when we leave them unlocked (Ron has a tendency to leave them open quite often, for example). So we decided that swimming is definitely a necessary skill. Not to mention that I grew up swimming in a lake and want my kids to enjoy the water as much as I do.

We put Abby in swimming lessons when she was 3 years old and potty trained. Even though she cried through the entire first lesson, she still did everything that the teachers wanted her to do and she was fine after that. She loves being in the water and paddling around, but being our hesitant, non-risk-taking child she loves everything about swimming lessons – as long as they don’t try to get her to actually swim. Last year we did 2 sessions (4 weeks) of lessons and although the teachers had graduated her into the next-higher group, she didn’t like doing the things (such as ‘swimming’) that were required, so she got moved back down into her comfort zone.

Hannah has never liked the water, even as a baby. Anything bigger than the bathtub terrified her. The first time we ever got her to do more than sit on the steps of a pool was during swimming lessons last year. Our choice – whether right or not – was to put her in lessons and get her comfortable in the water even though she fought it like crazy. It took all 4 weeks but by the end she finally could get through a 45-minute lesson without crying and on the last day even jumped off the diving board herself instead of being dropped in the water off the end of it. And best of all, she was now perfectly happy in a pool, paddling around with a floating ring on and having fun. Mission somewhat accomplished.

We started this summer’s lessons last week and they run through this week. Hannah is doing awesome! Not a tear shed and she’s having a blast. And starting to actually swim on her own! Abby cried throughout the entire first lesson but has been tear-free since and has even been doing some of the swimming that is required in the next higher level. I am so darn proud of both of them. I love watching them learn – and seeing how they interact with their teachers and the other kids. I don’t like the fact that I leave work at 5pm and have to pick the kids up at daycare, get them home, get everyone including myself fed and the big girls changed into their bathing suits and drive to lessons by 6pm. Yeah, right. We’ve eaten every ‘quick and easy’ dinner option I can think of – mainly sandwiches, hot dogs, and frozen waffles. So much for a healthy, balanced, sit-down dinner… Oh well – there’s always next week.

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