One of the best swim schools in the country just happens to be down the street from where we live. It also happens to be owned by friends in our ward. I have known many of their instructors quite well and spoken to them at great length about their teaching methods and their great success in teaching young children to swim. These guys really are the best.
I have never sent my children to them for lessons for one simple reason. FEAR. I knew I couldn't handle looking on helplessly as they break my child. No not break them into pieces, just break their will. When a child starts to fuss and cry during their lessons usually because of their own fear of being under the water, they let them know they cannot cry and if they do they dip them back under. This will continue until your child stops crying. The child quickly learns that crying will get them absolutely nowhere and teaches them who is in charge. Eventually the crying stops and they are ready to learn again. The kids all love their teachers and cant wait to go back to lessons every time, but usually not until after lesson 2.
I know the success rate and even that the results speak for themselves. I have never heard of a child being scarred for life because of these methods, but that doesn't mean I thought I could actually stand by and watch this happen. But I also knew that soon enough Brynne was going to have to learn to swim.
Its kind of like when you finally realized that the only way you could ever regain your sanity in life was if you sucked it up and gave in to the fact that you would never sleep all night long again unless you actually let your child cry them self back to sleep. It is a painful thing to do, but within a few nights you realize, the smartest move you ever made.
So this year I made myself do it. I signed Brynne up for lessons at Jan Thomas Swim School, not knowing if I would really be able to go through with it. I was nervous all morning and dreading what I was sure was ahead of me. I tried prepping Brynne all morning telling her that her swim teacher would always keep her safe, that sometimes when we try new things they might seem scary, but to always be brave and try not to cry. She thought I was nuts, (it wasn't the first time someone thought of me that way) she was just excited for her lesson.
When we got there I was so pleased to see that I knew her instructor pretty well and I knew she would be great with Brynne. Brynne ripped off her cover up and jumped right into her teachers arms. I walked back behind the fence almost afraid to turn back and face Brynne and her lesson. We made it through the first several minutes with no tears. Finally after experiencing her first time underwater without anyone holding on to her and for longer than she had been under before,Brynne came up crying. My heart ached as I knew what would come next. I could only half watch as all of my muscles in my legs and arms were so tense watching my crying girl go under the water 2 then 3 then 4 times. And then sigh, it was done. I was so surprised. I know how stubborn that little girl is and that was a fight that could have lasted almost forever.
The rest of the lesson went quite well. When we left Brynne was giving high fives, and talking excitedly about how soon she would be able to swim in my moms pool without any help. I was finally willing my muscles to relax. It was done, I had made it through the lesson with out breaking down or running out to the pool to try to comfort her. It's hard for me to see my kids uncomfortable at all, or to not be able to swoop in and make everything better. I know that we only grow when we have to stretch and do hard things. Often it will make us cry. I know this, and I am so okay with it. I am much better with it though if the stretching and crying is done by me rather than my kids. How will I ever make it through the teenage years with them? I am certain to have my heart broken.
Lucky for me this was just a 30 minute swim lesson, and the hard part didn't last nearly as long as I thought it would. I guess most of life's lesson's,after enough time, can seem that way too.
As we drove home Brynne was telling me all the things she learned at the lesson," I learned that I really can have my eyes open in the water, I learned how to kick with my legs really hard, and I learned not to fuss or my teacher cant teach me how to swim"
With that said, I have to admit, I am already glad we decided to take the plunge! What plunges have you made lately? Was it worth it? We're not done yet, nowhere close, but I am certain my answer will be a resounding YES!!!