Sunday, January 27, 2008

Water-colour Portrait

The boys are three weeks into their swimming lessons and I am so proud of them both! You see, DJ and Anderson are so very different from each other. Based on their pool etiquette this past summer, I was a bit worried about how well swimming lessons would go for each of them.

All summer long DJ would get into our pool, but he would cling to the edge, never letting go. He hated to put his face near the water and if you tried to help him "swim" he would wrap his arms around your neck till you almost lost consciousness and his willowy legs would wrap around your midsection. He was petrified. But you could also see that he loved the water, especially at the beach. We feared swim class would be very agonizing for him and that he would not want to participate.

Anderson, who is a year younger than DJ, is our Little fish. At two years old he was swimming on his own and always being a dare devil. Life guards at the local pool would have to warn him to not dive off the edge and would scold me for allowing him to swim further than an arms length from me (never mind I had a little baby in my arms and Mister Strong-Hold wrapped around my body!) My fear for him was that he would get board of swimming class.

I know that it is not right to label your children. But, their natural behaviour around the pool really painted a true portrait of their personalities.

DJ is a perfectionist, never wanting to look silly trying something new. He watches and watches, and then attempts the feat. He was this way with all his milestones - for example, one moment he did not walk, the next he got up and walked across the entire front room. When he does something, he likes to do it right.

Anderson is our dare devil. Always pushing his limits and always trying to have fun - which usually involves speed, danger or thrill. He jumps in with both feet (pun intended!)

Well, three weeks in, and the boys are doing great!

DJ's motto is that Dillon (the instructor) will teach him how to get into the deep water and how to swim. DJ obeys all of Dillon's instructions, watches very carefully and then does exactly what Dillon asks of him. And he does it perfectly! Three weeks ago I could not get him to let go of the side, Dillon has him using a pool noodle and swimming on his own. DJ also does a perfect star float - on his own, with no assistance! DJ responds well to an instructor. He listens and trusts that the teacher will not lead him astray. He is a wonderful student.

Anderson looks like a jumping bean on the side. All eager for his turn. At times not focusing on what Dillon is teaching. Always eager to try and show off. Ander is enjoying himself during the structured class - but he lives for the free play in the shallow water. Here he can let go of the edge and swim under the water and come up for air to Dillon's praise. Anderson's motto is that if he listens to Dillon then Dillon will let him go off the diving board and down the big slide when he is bigger. This is his first experience in a structured class and he is proving to be a wonderful student.

Both boys are focused on a mission: DJ wants to swim properly and do it right, while Anderson wants to be able to do the daring things. Both boys understand that by learning how to swim and do things safely, then they can accomplish their goals.

I wonder how much this swimming scenario will reflect their personalities or parallel their lives. I see older kids walking along the deck - all different sizes, statues, personalities, and I wonder which one is most like what each of my boys will grow to be.

I hope that I am helping my children learn and grow and to become strong, independent, caring, and all round wonderful adults. Life can be slippery, full of currents and whirlpools - and I hope that I am helping my children not just tread water to stay afloat, but to dive, swim and excel.

For the record, I spend the entire class chasing Madigan away from the side of the pool. She is so anxious to follow her brothers. It is so cute to watch her power crawl up to a foot before the edge and then turn around and start backing up to the edge. A big grin on her face the entire time -or at least until mommy grabs her!

I wonder what swimming stories I will tell when the kids are older. I wonder if these stories will reflect the adults they have become. My mother and father still talk about the day I had to swim 50 metres to pass my swimming test. I jumped in swam about 49 metres, lifted up my head and yelled out, " I do not think I can make it!". I then turned around and swam 49 metres to the other end. (I did not pass, I may have swam almost double the requirement, but I failed because of my lack of confidence!) We all laugh at this story, but then I see, at times, in my every day life, how afraid I am of failure.

Do you see behaviours or personality traits in your young children that make you wonder what type of adult the child will become? Are there traits or characteristics that you see in your children now that you hope are (or are not) part of who they grow into as adults? For example, I see how empathetic my boys are today, and hope that they mature into caring, sensitive men. What are your thoughts on this subject?


Don Mills Diva said...

Swimming lessons were such a huge part of my childhood!

Re: personality traits. Graham is only 2 but already I think he is going to be a neatnik like his dad. If he spills anything or gets a dollop of food somewhere he will come and get me and lead me to it so I can wipe it up!

Life As I Know It said...

I think it's so interesting to watch my boys emerge into very different little people. One is exactly like me, the other like his dad. We have one of each!

My oldest is pretty timid in the water and he's been taking lessons for 3 years. We'll see how the younger one does this summer. I have a feeling he'll be more adventerous.

amanda said...

My daughter is very sensitive toward other peoples feelings. It's definitely something I hope she carries into adulthood.

Family Adventure said...

Laura, this is such a lovely post. I really enjoyed reading about your boys, and how different they are, and how proud of them you are!! Thanks for sharing and WAY TO GO BOYS!!!


PS: Love that story about your swimming test. Though what meanies not to pass you when you swam a full 98 meters!!!

TheVasquez3 said...

it is so much fun to watch your kids personality develop. Jordan use to be afraid of EVERYTHING. now she jumps in with both feet. there was a time that i wondered if she would always be afraid of the world...she is 12 and loving every new adventure she goes on now. so much fun to watch1

InTheFastLane said...

Well, if you use swimming again...both my older two are a little slow to warm up. My middle child taking a full 8 years before we could get him to put is face in the water.

Emily said...

OK, I am not going to answer your last question because all you need to do is change the names on your post and you have Zach and Ben. Not only who they are, but also how they feel about swimming. I seriously felt like you were writing about my kids. Maybe it is a first-child, second-child thing.

forgetfulone said...

I think kiddoes show their personality traits early, so what you're seeing is probably at least a small indication of their later years. Swimming lessons make for lots of good memories.

Pregnantly Plump said...

Little Elvis is about 11 and a half months now, but I think you can definitely see hints of what he'll be like when he's older. He's completely fearless and curious about everything. He loves to study both sides of everything, especially when the tops and bottoms are different. He's also extremely determined -- he's figured out how to break through two safety gates! I think he gets the fearlessness and curiosity from his dad.

Kellan said...

I'm so glad they are enjoying the lessons and doing so well - it is such a good thing to learn to swim and be safe!! I love the story of your little daughter crawling up to the edge and you chasing after her.

I think that children's personality traits are formed really early and they are much of who they will be when they are grown - early on. It sounds like you have wonderful children that will certainly grow to be wonderful adults.

Nice to see you today - thanks for coming by. Hope to see you soon. Kellan

Barrie said...

Hmmm....well, I'd like to think I can predict my children's adult personalities from what I see in them as children. But, uh, I don't really don't think life is all that neat and clean. I remember a certain boy who, at age 2, would go around to the side of the house to practise somersaults. The neighbourhood kids in my backyard were much more proficient than he was. My heart broke for this poor little kid who who so lacking in self-confidence. Fast-forward 12 years to an incredibly self-confident 14 year old. A high schooler who voices his opinions and is always ready to try new experiences. Thank goodness his 14 y.o. self doesn't mirror his little 2 y.o. self.

Yikeserama! I have never posted such a long comment. Laura, you really got me going! :)