Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Independence in swimming and other skills

Although I had the pool ready a month ago, it was not until this week that the weather allowed us to use it. Now we are in every day, for hours at a time. Our neighbors’ children have an open invitation, so it’s always a pool party over here.

My first on-the-books job was as a pool lifeguard for the Town of Oyster Bay. While I have the confidence that I could save someone and administer CPR if necessary, it is the last thing I want to have to do. I think I am a little more wary and vigilant than the average adult, because I know that it only take two tablespoons of water in the lungs to drown a person.

My almost-three-year old refuses to use her baby float, the kind that has a seat to keep the child up in its flotation ring. She sees the other kids using the other kind, and insists on being like them. I didn’t quite know what to do when, as I stood with my arms ready to steady her as she entered using the pool ladder, she commanded, “Go away Mom!” while gesturing for me to swim “over there”.

I backed off but was ready to spring on her at the slightest mis-step. She did fine, and improved with practice. Within a few days, she was able to swim with confidence with the other children, using only her swimming ring.

A seven-year-old girl in my neighborhood came over with her sisters, wearing a swim vest. After the first hour, she decided she didn’t need it anymore. “You can’t swim!” declared her nine-year-old sister. “I can too!” she answered.

I stood by, a little nervous because she was still unsure about herself. Then she went off with my twelve-year-old and after another hour was swimming just like the other kids. When her mother came by, she was astounded. “She was afraid of the water!” she said, very pleasantly surprised.

I was surprised too, not having known the extent of this sudden change in her, because I really hadn’t done a thing. Sometimes that is the best thing for parents to do, is to stand by vigilantly while their children test the waters, whether in swimming or using the stairs or climbing a tree.

Chapter 40

1 A great anxiety has God allotted, and a heavy yoke, to the sons of men; From the day one leaves his mother's womb to the day he returns to the mother of all the living,
His thoughts, the fear in his heart, and his troubled forebodings till the day he dies--
Whether he sits on a lofty throne or grovels in dust and ashes,
Whether he bears a splendid crown or is wrapped in the coarsest of cloaks--
Are of wrath and envy, trouble and dread, terror of death, fury and strife. Even when he lies on his bed to rest, his cares at night disturb his sleep.
So short is his rest it seems like none, till in his dreams he struggles as he did by day, Terrified by what his mind's eye sees, like a fugitive being pursued;
As he reaches safety, he wakes up astonished that there was nothing to fear.


Karen said...

Sounds like my almost four year old needs to go for a swim in your pool. There must be something special in your water! We have family on LI so I'll just send her up with them. :)

Elizabeth Kathryn Gerold-Miller said...

Hi Karen, My kids on average learn how to swim without a tube at age 6 1/2. They start by kicking and using their arms while using the tube until they are ready to get out of it. I watch her like a hawk to make sure she doesn't slip through or forward. She got the hang of how to hold herself securely in it by day 2. I'd love to meet your vibrant family one day.

RAnn said...

I use the arm floats with mine, and my five year old doesn't want to take hers off. She's half fish with them on, off the slide, off the diving board, face in water,etc. but doesn't want to be w/out them. Hopefully when she can touch bottom she'll give them up.