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?