Water Theory

ssshhh! Don’t tell anyone, but I skipped a day blogging yesterday. I know, right? I’ve been participating in the Postaday2011 challenge here and somehow felt obligated to post something everyday. While it’s no problem during the week, the weekend comes and well, I need a break.

So I rebelled and pretty much ignored my laptop yesterday. Yeah, me!

Even better, Grandma coerced invited Zachary to spend Saturday night with her and Papa, so I took Jacob and Jonathan to the YMCA to swim.

Let me clarify.

Jacob swims like the fish that he is, just like his mama. Jonathan, not so much. Jacob takes swim classes at the Y on Saturday mornings and Jonathan was lamenting the fact that I hadn’t signed him up.

I had to remind him of the numerous occasions of screaming and crying and adamant refusals to enter the water of the swimming pool. He had to prove he was ready.

So, he spent Saturday night and Sunday morning all giddy about swimming, He talked our ears off about how he was going to do this and he was going to that. I was enjoying his enthusiasm, even if I had heard it all before.

Sunday afternoon, promptly at 1:00pm, we entered the Y for our afternoon frivolity. Boys went to the boys locker room to change, I went to the Ladies locker room, we met poolside.

Jacob jumped right in, no worries. Jonathan stood at the side at the side of the pool and rather forcefully refused to get in. I got in, and tried chatting him up to join me.


Then he had to pee. Can’t say as though I blame him, all that water does me that way. So I waited.

And then spent another 15 minutes chatting him up, trying to get him to join me in the water.


So, then I resorted to force.

I made sure his floaty was secure, I picked him up and carried him in to the water.

At 60+ lbs, this was no small feat.

As he was crying, and screaming and hanging on for dear life, I stood in the corner of the pool, with him facing away from the great expanse of water and talked quietly to him.

I asked what he was afraid of.

I already had the notion that the enormity of the pool was triggering his fear. I calmly explained that he didn’t have to go out in the water, he could stay right here, in the 3 and 1/2 foot deep water. I started to bounce him in the water and slowly, ever so slowly he started to relax.

I moved a around a bit while we bounced and soon his legs unwrapped from around my waist. I knew he could stand if he tried, so I encouraged him to try and touch the bottom of the pool. It was a little difficult with the floaty, but he finally did.

Then I unwound his arms from around my neck and had him hold onto the side of the pool. So here he was in the pool, on his own, holding on to the side and standing up.

I kept telling him how proud I was of him, how he was doing such an awesome job and finally he let go of the side and just stood there.

I sure wish I had my camera in that moment, when he realized – he could do this. He could learn to swim and overcome the fear. The grin on his face was priceless.

The next hour or so – he happily walked, floated and dog-paddled in a 15 foot by 4 foot expanse of pool.

No more tears, no more screaming. He ignored the expanse of water outside his little domain and even found another boy his age, with the same desire to stay close to the wall.

But that’s okay. He’s looking forward to our next visit to the pool. He’s more confident in his ability to be in the pool. And that leaves my arms free for another little boy that’s scared of the water.


Zachary's first 'school' picture.

Categories: Life | Tags: , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

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9 thoughts on “Water Theory

  1. Yeay! Good mama! Good Son! Isn’t mama pride the best? We are having toilet training victories and I am also a proud mama. Yeay Mama’s and kiddos!!

  2. I just learned how to swim four years ago–overcoming a life-long phobia of being underwater. Learning I could do it–even though I still don’t relish it–made me feel like I could do anything. Good for you to teach him to overcome his fears at an early age!

  3. Patty

    I missed you yesterday, but glad to see you took a break. So happy for Jonathan. My daughter teaches swim lessons at the Y and she loves the age when they are scared to death at the beginning of the two weeks and jumping in by the end.

  4. I remember I used to be terrified of the pool, and I was convinced that I couldn’t reach the bottom. Reading your article brought pack that panicky feeling. And then the feeling of being in control and achievement when I finally realised that my toes could touch the bottom and that my dad hadn’t been making it up! I remember feeling so alone in my fear, and it is actually nice to hear that there are other “silly” children around! ­čÖé

  5. Lady Jennie

    Hi!!! You know for a long time your blog was offline, or maybe there was something between our connections that was screwed up. I checked back a few times over a few weeks and it wasn’t working. I thought you had given it up and was sad – I even removed you from my netvibes account. But you’re here! So glad. ­čÖé

  6. Lady Jennie

    Oh wait – duh, this is over a year old.
    How are you?

  7. Tara

    I’ve been waiting for an update too… hope all is well…

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