Two months ago I forced swimming lessons on Madison. Read all about how we began.
Today was our last lesson of the summer.
I wish we'd ended on a better day. Madison had her last lesson right after a thunderstorm. It was cool (well, cool for August), gray, and drizzly. The pool was nearly empty.
Madison cried through much of her lesson today. We had to move the time to 12:30, when she's usually napping. In addition to that, we were out all morning at Reagan's orthopedist appointment (more on that later - no worries though, she's fine and won't even need another check for two years). Reagan was asleep in the car, so I dropped Adam and Reagan off at the house and Madison was thrown by the fact that instead of going home to rest, she was going to the pool - in the rain.
Having said all that...can I consider this summer of lessons a success?
Madison has become a much stronger kicker. She is still unwilling to let go of her teacher, so no arms yet.
She recently was willing to jump off the side into the arms of her teacher, instead of insisting on the stairs.
She is willing to put the bottom of her face in the water and blow bubbles.
The goals for the summer included putting her head under the water, kicking with a kickboard, and jumping in, coming up for a breath, then kicking. She definitely wasn't there.
Today was an exception. Generally, she didn't cry through her lessons. There were moments of crying, but the majority of her time was tear free.
In general, she spoke very positively about going to the pool and lessons.
Whether it was three year old behavior or apprehension about swimming, she was extremely contrary with her teacher. Most of what he asked her to do she refused. No, no, no, I don't want to.
When her lessons were over, she had very little interest in staying in the big pool. She "swam" in the baby pool. She was a complete water bug in water that was a foot deep. But no real desire to swim with me, or Sarah, or our friends, in the big pool.
Was it horrible? No, not by a long shot.
Did she make a good amount of progress? To my eyes, no.
These lessons were intended to be group lessons. But after the first two weeks, she ended up alone. Every child that she was paired with ended up surpassing her so greatly in the day they were together, that she was moved to her own group.
Now, I'm not trying to compare. Every kid is different. But it was a little disappointing to see the other "non-swimmers" ending the summer in such a different place. I know many of them have pools at home, or swim year round, or have a more "athletic" personality. None seemed to have the same degree of fear that she did, so they were willing to try.
Her teacher and I had a long talk yesterday. He thought that she had made a great amount of progress, just demonstrated by her lack of constant tears. My big question was:
This pool closes on Labor Day. How do I keep her from losing these baby steps?
And this is why I love her teacher. He is such a gentle coach. He is wonderful with the little ones. She may not love swimming, but she loves Jim.
His advice was to find some sort of indoor pool over the winter, but NOT to sign up for lessons unless she asks. He suggested we try to get her playing in a pool at least once a month, in a fun, no pressure way. Find some friends, make it fun, keep swimming on her radar. I think we can do that. Bathing suits are on clearance (even at Gymboree and Crazy 8!), so we can keep a few that fit in our winter rotation.
He also encouraged us to get Reagan into the big pool as soon as she's allowed (our pool doesn't permit swim diapers out of the kiddie pool, but other pools aren't so strict). He's seen her dying to dive in all summer and thinks that when she's allowed to go in with Madison, her enthusiasm will be contagious. This summer Madison has too stay in the kiddie pool most of the time, because usually there's only one of me and I can't split myself into two. When there are two adults, she still likes to play with her sister. Next year, when Reagan dictates the desire for a challenge, Madison may join in.
Overall, I'm glad I forced the lessons, and I will continue to force lessons until she has those basic skills down. I overheard Jim say to one of the little girls,
"See? You're doing it! If you fell in the pool you'd be able to swim to the ladder all by yourself!"
That's why I'm sticking with it, and counting every baby step as a success.
I have some cute pictures of Madison in her lesson today, but I haven't been able to get them up yet. Check back tomorrow, when hopefully my phone and my laptop will be friends again.