Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Not Waving but Drowning

I have 2 children, both of whom cannot swim and both with a strong aversion to putting their head under water. The eldest has quite a legitimate fear (not based on past trauma) and the youngest just likes copying his older brother. We've tried a few times over the years, both in the pool with me, but it's always been met with very strong resistance once it gets to a point where they need to put their face in the water. I decided in summer that enough was enough and that it was my duty as a parent to ensure they could swim, if only in a basic form. They've now had around 12 weeks of lessons and progress is painfully slow. If you're the parent of a child whizzing up and down the pool I will allow you to feel smug as long as you spare a little sympathy for the parent of the (overly dramatic) child clinging to the side crying and shouting NO I CAN'T DO IT I WILL DIE!!!

Eldest son and I reached an impasse on Sat, culminating in both of us sitting in the pool for 20 mins while he refused to move and I refused to go. I thought we had reached a turning point a fortnight ago, but a bad swimming lesson on Fri has knocked any confidence in his ability that he had, and taken us back about 6 weeks. With the odd exception, Fridays have become the worst day in the week and it's getting progressively worse. I hate seeing him come home full of excitement for the weekend, only to watch him deflate and shrink into the corner of the couch as it gets closer to swimming time.

After speaking with my husband, who doesn't swim at all and hates water, we've agreed to stop the lessons on the understanding that eldest NEVER goes near water. If we're at the beach, he can't paddle. He can't go on the flumes with his friends...nothing.

I'm going to perservere with youngest, but on my own on the weekends. He's less scared than eldest but still has a strong aversion to putting his face in the water. Hopefully if I take him to the pool to play he'll associate water with fun and become more confident. It might even help get eldest back in the pool (in which he can stand - it's a good learner's pool) and we can move beyond it.

Of course, I am totally wracked with guilt that I have failed in helping my child learn to swim. When I grew up everyone could swim. I am not a natural swimmer but I had fun playing in the pool and at the beach. I was absolutely determined that both my children would at least have rudimentary swimming skills, but the situation with eldest has saddened me. I have managed to find some compromise or solution to every other parenting situation so far, but not this time.