E’s swimming lessons have been problematic recently. She has been having what the class leaders call Water Wobbles – common to her age, and related to her development and attachment issues. We’ve been trying to work through them.
This weekend we had a breakthrough. Although I’m nervous about calling it that until I can see that it wasn’t a one off. We arrived early and sat watching the lesson before us. She’s always interested in watching, it’s when we try and get in that the trouble usually starts. this week the tutor had noticed E’s face light up when they did the “surfing” activity – a float with a whale on that the babies lie on. So we tried that early. She laughed. She didn’t cry. She enjoyed the next activity – chasing a fish – and so we carried on, adapting some activities to suit or she didn’t join in with all of them. The aim was to get her through the class without crying and we succeeded.
It’s strangely exhausting, being the mother of the child who cries a lot through a half hour swimming lesson. You start to get concerned about what the other parents are thinking of you, you just want the baby to join in and learn and have fun like all the other babies are doing, it feels like one long encouraging good girl and smile through the stress of having a yelling child clutch to you. I started to dread it. It seemed especially worse for E because when we started lessons she loved them so much and all we heard was comments about how smiley she was.
But we got out of the pool on Saturday I got lots of pleased comments from the other parents and many of them commended me on how I’d stuck with it and persevered. To be honest, it never occurred to me to stop. The teachers said it was a phase and I took their word for it, being experts in this and all. Either I’m too stupid to be a parent or other people quit easily. But I don’t think it’s that. It was nice that they cared enough about E to be pleased when she did well too. I refuse to believe that they all thought she was ruining the lessons with her crying. We’re an established class now, we’ve gone through pooh in the pool incidents together.
I took comfort in previous lessons that she was learning things like how to hold onto the side, despite crying a lot, and that there were a few things that she did smile for. Somewhere in there she can get past the abandonment stuff and remember what she liked about swimming in the first place. And she can learn the safety things we wanted her to take on board. So Saturday already sits on the horizon and I am nervous but optimistic. If we’ve done it once, we can do it again.