Three years old. There. Blog over. Just kidding. Kind of.
Being the dutiful mom that I am, I decided to enroll my 3-year-old daughter in swim lessons this summer. It’s important to know how to swim, right? And that’s what you do during the summer, right? Wrong.
I remember swim lessons growing up. I grew up in a very small town so my lessons were in some neighbor’s backyard pool. I now realize I was probably quite a bit older than 3 if I remember it as well as I do. But I felt like it’s probably never too early to learn how to swim. I can assure you, for us, 3 is too early.
I should preface this by saying my daughter is a little shy at times. For this reason, I thought it made sense to do semi-private lessons with a 4-year-old neighbor boy who is a good friend of hers. She tends to do better with a friend along for the fun. So we set out both very excited. She had her new Frozen swimsuit on, I had her 10-month sister in tow with Puffs at the ready to keep her busy. I even told my 3-year-old I would get her a Mermaid Barbie if she did the lesson. I am so not above bribery, really on a daily basis, for everything from swim lessons to eating lunch to not shoving her sister down.
We sat on the bleachers while waiting for the swim instructor. I told my daughter the instructor was a Disney Princess to hopefully entice her into the water. The instructor arrived and called out my daughter and her friend’s names. This is where things started to go awry.
My daughter wanted no part of going up to the pool without me. So I passed the baby off to the neighbor boy’s mom and went poolside. That’s when the tears started. Much of the first lesson involved her sitting next to me next to the pool. I finally convinced her to get her feet in the water. We eventually basically forced her into the pool to hang onto the “marshmallow stick.” That probably wasn’t the best decision because she sobbed while the instructor pulled her around.
ALL the parents were eyeing us… most with understanding looks, some with complete what the heck looks. And then the 10-month old decided to lose it. So here I have two girls, both sobbing, no one swimming. I bailed. I’m still not sure if it was the right thing but we totally loaded up into the minivan and got the hell out of Dodge.
So, because I’m a sucker for punishment, and because I am trying to raise girls who don’t think it is OK to quit, we went back to two more lessons. They both went the same as the first, which was not good. Finally, during the third lesson, I realized that I was basically paying a lot of money to watch my kid cry and possibly develop a fear of the water which she loved before the dreaded lessons.
We bailed for the final time, and I told the instructor we wouldn’t be there for the last lesson. gain, I’m still not sure if it was right to literally throw in the towel but we’ve been to the pool several times since, and she is happy as a lark.
Does she know how to swim? Not yet. We WILL try lessons again. But, in my opinion, being 3 is a time of transition and major changes and swim lessons may have been more enticing for ME than for HER.
It is important to know your child and know what they can tolerate. I think I may have been pushing her too fast to do something she wasn’t quite ready for. So instead of trying to keep up with every other 3-year-old I know, I learned a lesson that I need to pay more attention to my child and what she can and cannot tolerate at this time. So for any other moms on the fence out there about swim lessons, do yourself a favor and wait or, at the very least, have alcohol ready when you get home.