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  • Life Is A Beast

    August 19, 2008

    Swimming is not coming easily to Sean. Physically he is quite capable of swimming. He is naturally athletic. But he harbors some fear not understood by me or articulated by him that prevents him from mastering the water.

    This summer I’ve spent countless hours coaxing him into the water with me, chiding him about preferring the baby pool, pointing out other kids his age and younger who are swimming – AND HAVING FUN DARN IT! And honestly, sometimes I’m just flat out aggravated with him for not even being willing to try. "Just try dammit!" I want to scream. But I don’t. I say "Whatever Dude" instead and try to hide my frustration.

    And yes, I realize I have violated every rule of good parenting, so please don’t go to the trouble to point that out. I am aware. I’m sure it will come up in therapy one of these days.

    This thing he has against swimming, it is maddening to me for many reasons which have nothing to do with the substantial amount of money I have spent on swimming lessons for this boy. What bugs me is not that he won’t master the water, but that he won’t master the fear. But what I think bugs me even more than that, is that in this regard, he is not like me. When I was his age, I was fearless. I had two older brothers to keep up with and there was no time for fear if I didn’t want to be left behind. It never occurred to me that I couldn’t do something.

    In Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood , Vivi Walker tells her 10-year-old daughter Sidda Lee who is afraid to ride an elephant at the grand opening of the local mall, “Life is a beast, you just get on it and ride!”

    And that is true. For some of us.

    For me, life is a beast. I just get on it and ride. I just hope for the best and figure it out as I go along. And I fall off the beast – a lot – and I skin up my knees and I get on again.

    But for Sean and for others like him, life is a beast that you observe at a distance and read up on and understand before approaching.

    One of the hardest parts of motherhood as of late, as Sean becomes increasingly more his own person, is to allow him his own journey, his own approach to life at his own pace. He may look like me, but he ain’t me.

    Sean needs to learn to swim. And I need to learn to let Sean learn to swim in his own way.

    69 Comments »

    1. Nancy says:

      My daughter hated the water from the time she was an infant. Any exposure whatsoever put her in such an irrational panic that I couldn’t even give her a normal bath. I just wasn’t strong enough to hold onto a slippery hysterical baby who was absolutely inconsolable afterward. I didn’t understand it, but it just wasn’t worth it to me to terrify her so much.

      I ended up figuring out that I could sit her in her high chair with a bunch of towels and give her a bath and wash her hair with a bowl of water and a bunch of washclothes. She slowly got a little better and I eventually was able to get her used to the water by playing with toys in the sink. I was able to convince her to take a real bath when she was around 4.

      Well, this summer she turned six. She’s a fish now. She swims underwater. She likes to dive down to the bottom and gather up toys she throws in for her “treasure hunt.”

      Now that I know how it all turned out, I really wish I had taken video of how hysterical she used to get. But that would have been so wrong at the time.

      So the short answer is – Don’t worry. He’ll get it. Believe me, if mine got it, your’s will too. ;)

      August 19th, 2008 at 1:20 am

    2. chickadee@afamiliarpath says:

      oh i’m so like sean. but i understand your frustration. while i can justify the fear in my own life i can easily get highly irritated when my kids won’t try something that i already know is ok.

      August 19th, 2008 at 1:38 am

    3. Clemntine says:

      I list “Violating Every Rule of Good Parenting” among my most adept skillz, so you know.

      I understand so very well where you’re coming from here. Reminds me of the axiom “It takes a child to build a man”. I’m certain that I wouldn’t know nearly half of my own shortcomings if I hadn’t had children. In fact, I’m pretty darn sure I’d still be like my childless friend Mary Poppins: Practically Perfect in Every Way. And, bless their little pointed heads, they show me more of them every. blessed. day. God love ‘em.

      August 19th, 2008 at 1:45 am

    4. Swirl Girl says:

      So what if he doesn’t learn to swim like a Michael Phelps… Sean just needs to test the waters and find his own lane.

      Life’s is a beast. Great and small.

      August 19th, 2008 at 1:46 am

    5. Stretch Mark Mama says:

      Then there’s *my* son who is at a similar stage, but *is certain* he could beat Michael Phelps. It’s a fantasy vs. reality issue over here.

      August 19th, 2008 at 2:45 am

    6. Brigitte says:

      I still prefer to observe life from a safe distance. Hopefully my daughter doesn’t grow up as wimpy as me!

      August 19th, 2008 at 5:06 am

    7. midlife mommy says:

      Ahem. Just which parenting rules did you violate? Because you sound just like me. Only add bribery. A friend of mine gave my daughter a Barbie doll every year at Christmas. I just figured she was too young for them, so I told her that she could have them when she turned four. But we made an exception — she could have one Barbie for each time she went under water (with me holding her, her holding her nose and closing her eyes, and going under water for only one freaking second). She has absolutely refused. I finally got so frustrated that I hid the dolls away. She doesn’t seem at all concerned. So not only is she very timid about many things, she’s also stubborn as a mule (now, I wonder where that latter trait came from?). Sometimes, I feel like she will never learn to swim, and since we have an inground pool that came with the house, this is not a good thing.

      August 19th, 2008 at 6:25 am

    8. Damsel says:

      Have you read the Birth Order Book? Seems like you and Sean fit in exactly the roles the author describes as first born and last born. :-) If you haven’t read it, pick it up at the library. You’ll find yourself in it.

      August 19th, 2008 at 7:02 am

    9. Kim says:

      You’re speaking to me sister. An entire summer of off-and-on lessons, both group and private. A clan of much younger *gangsta* swimmers at the pool taunting my boy (who could have cared less) and still….my child was not swimming.

      I struggle with these differences as well. My oldest (daughter) is afraid of much and I have struggled over the years to give her time and space to test the waters. It’s not easy for the “beast-rider” ;)

      The end of summer is here and after watching Phelps, Samuel was inspired and started to swim….but not a moment before he was ready.

      Great post.

      August 19th, 2008 at 7:17 am

    10. Jeana says:

      All I’ll say here is that I wouldn’t model my parenting after Vivi if I were you.

      August 19th, 2008 at 7:29 am

    11. Antique Mommy says:

      Jeana, No Vivi is not my role model. But then again, neither is June Cleaver. I’m not sure who my role model is.

      August 19th, 2008 at 7:33 am

    12. jen says:

      I loved that show…good advice.

      August 19th, 2008 at 7:41 am

    13. boomama says:

      Amen, sister. Beautiful post.

      August 19th, 2008 at 7:42 am

    14. Liz says:

      Hang in there… he’ll do it in his own time. My daughter was the same way with swimming. She was 5.5 before she actually figured out she could swim all by herself. Now, she’s a fish! For some reason I was patient about the swimming, but I’ve joined you in dark side of Mommy world when it comes to “encouraging” her to ride her bike. My word, this 6 year old child runs, barefoot, up and down the sidewalk chasing her friends on their 2-wheel bikes, but will not get on her bike with it’s training wheels! Of course, I learned to ride a 2-wheeler when I was 4, tied my shoes at 4 and the list goes on… but oh yes, she is not me.

      August 19th, 2008 at 7:46 am

    15. momhuebert says:

      A couple of thoughts.

      First, you’re breaking a rule of parenting?! Which one? Did I miss the memo with the list of rules I should have been following? You sound like you’re doing fine to me.

      Second, Sean is only FOUR, right? What’s the big hurry? My guess– which you already alluded to– is that swimming is like any other skill and will come easily (or at least easier) when he’s ready.

      That said, I understand the frustration. My own version of it came during homeschooling, when my kids refused/were unable to work up to what I considered their “potential.” I think deep down I was really saying, “Come on, guys, you’re making me look bad!”

      August 19th, 2008 at 8:16 am

    16. Beck says:

      My oldest child is TERRIFIED of swimming. For a full ten weeks, we brought her sobbing and shaking to lessons, each week thinking that THIS week it would be easier for her, that her gentle instructors would help her understand that she was safe and that everything was okay. Even now, though, mention swimming to her and she goes WHITE.

      And yet I understand. I’m a much more fearful person then average, too, and so I know full well how important it is to face your fears but also how horribly difficult that can be.

      August 19th, 2008 at 8:18 am

    17. Refrigerator Art blogger says:

      I have a child who’s the same way about bike riding. Rock climbing 60 feet? No problem. Bike riding? Uh, too far to fall. Whatever dude.

      August 19th, 2008 at 8:30 am

    18. Lesley says:

      I have three sons. My oldest was six before he would swim on his own. My middle son was four and we will see about the youngest. That pretty much sums up their personalities. The oldest studies and watches. I don’t call it fearful, just conservative. The middle son just jumps right into life.

      August 19th, 2008 at 8:32 am

    19. Theresa says:

      I feared the water when I was a child. Then my dad threw me in at the deep end. I guess he thought I’d get over my fear. Still, 40 years later, I still do not like water, except of course taking a shower, that I do….just thought I should clarify that.

      August 19th, 2008 at 8:36 am

    20. Amy Nathan says:

      My son is 16 (as you know) and has always been one to observe a situation from afar, dip in his toe before getting into the pool. He still likes a week notice before a haircut. A doctor’s appointment — don’t ask!

      It serves him well as he is a sensitive soul. It’s actually a burden to be a boy like this, as they get older because most are not. But it means he’s going to grow into the kind of man you dream he’ll be…one who thinks, one who cares…and one who will one day be very patient when his son learns to swim.

      August 19th, 2008 at 8:36 am

    21. Megan (FriedOkra) says:

      I went through a similar set of experiences at the pool with Bean earlier this summer. It’s amazing and a little daunting how these little parental challenges cause us to scrutinize things from our kids’ perspectives AND from our own perspective as kids. (And often difficult, too, since we’re old and can’t remember much, right?) Sometimes Bean’s feelings are so similar to mine at her age that I sorta have to re-live an agonizing time myself, only this time while parenting HER through it in a way that I think would’ve helped me, and sometimes no matter how hard I try, I just can’t relate to her feelings and I have to just WING IT. Either way, sometimes I’m right and it works, other times I blow it and have to start all over again. This was a really sweet post – as you can see, it struck a chord, as so many of yours do!

      August 19th, 2008 at 8:45 am

    22. Happy Geek says:

      I am just about to wake my son up to go to swiming lessons where I am certain he will sit on the side of the pool again today. He really had a great time yesterday (sitting) and it is so terrbly hard to not push me on him. (Or push him in for that matter.) I really need to work on the “Whatever Dude” school of parenting.

      August 19th, 2008 at 9:00 am

    23. Shanon says:

      My son, who is now 5, was terrified of the water up until this summer. He would get in the baby pool but anything over his head sent him into a panic. I was going to put up an above ground pool this summer that is 5 ft. deep, but decided to wait one more summer and instead put up an easy set that was only 3 ft. That was the best decision that we ever made. It was a depth that was comfortable for him. He now swims like a fish and is in it every night. He is really excited about the bigger pool next year.

      August 19th, 2008 at 9:04 am

    24. rrmama says:

      Wonderful post! What a smart mama.

      August 19th, 2008 at 9:05 am

    25. bonniebeth says:

      My youngest couldn’t/wouldn’t swim. We did swim lessons regularly and he still didn’t swim. SO we being the responsible parents that we were, enrolled him in yet another swim school. This one was run by a venerable lady who had begun The McMillan Offshore Survival Training http://www.mcmillanoffshore.com/index.html for the offshore oil industry years ago. After her retirement she offered lessons at her home. She had hands on people in the pool for her while she walked around observing the lessons. It didn’t take her long to pick up on my son’s ‘fear’ of the water. She observed him and offered the instructors pointers in dealing with him and THEN she – herself – got in the water with my son and talked with him and had him try different techniques. Then she got out of the water and came over to me and said, “your son can’t breathe in the water – there is an obstruction or some type of phsical problem between his nose and his mouth that is restricting his being able to breathe”. NO WONDER HE WAS SCARED!!! So after that, he became an all-star soccer player, an all-star baseball player and an all-star basketball player, but no swim team for us.

      He did learn to swim in his own fashion but will tell you that he isn’t a strong swimmer. We have a picture taken of him on a church youth trip when as a teen he took his turn diving off a cliff into a lake. The picture shows him in mid air heading for the water and blood sprinkled through the air coming from his nose! Kind of gross – but that is his life if he tries to swim.

      SO maybe Sean will swim when he gets ready and be a little fish in the water – or maybe he won’t.

      August 19th, 2008 at 9:22 am

    26. Stephanie says:

      I so relate to what you said about allowing Sean his own journey. It is so hard to stand back and watch. I find myself wanting to keep my girls from doing things because I’m afraid they will get hurt but I know in my heart that they have to make those mistakes in order to learn. Hey, God is still teaching me everyday through my mistakes! but why is it so hard to let go?

      August 19th, 2008 at 9:31 am

    27. Tammy Marcelain says:

      I was afraid of the water when I was little. My dad used to tell this story about me…one morning I was about 5 or 6 years old I had a dream that I could swim, went right in and woke up my dad and told him about my dream and then said I think I can swim now. My dad got up out of bed took me to the pool and I jumped right in and swam a lap. That was his favorite story.

      August 19th, 2008 at 9:32 am

    28. Susan J. says:

      Jackson is the same way. Swimming lessons for several summers just did not do it. Reasoning with him did not do it. He had to figure it out for himself. He more or less taught himself. He did not even know it untill I took a video of him swimming and showed it to him. He just got brave enough this summer to jump off the diving board.
      It will happen.

      August 19th, 2008 at 9:36 am

    29. tracey says:

      This is one of those lessons in parenting that is ongoing. My eldest is 9. He has only JUST learned to ride a 2 wheeler… After thinking about it for FOUR YEARS.

      The amount of patience required in myself and my husband? Infinite. (especially his dad. My dh raced BMX growing up, so biking is a way of life for him!)

      But he got it. He did it. And he is prouder than you can believe!

      Sean’ll get used to the water… in his own time. Just step back and tell him that anytime he’s ready, you’re ready to help him.

      August 19th, 2008 at 9:38 am

    30. sara says:

      This post really hits home with me. I have a 4 almost 5 year old son who has not liked swimming either. Last year I spent a lot of money for 2 weeks of swimming lessons that were a disaster. Some days he flat refused to get in the pool and the days that he did, let’s just say it was not good. This year he has come a long way but he is still very timid and unsure in the water. I’m just glad that we finally got him to put his face underwater after almost 5 years.

      I agree with you that the hardest parenting thing for me so far is letting him be his own person. It’s so frustrating for me sometimes because I want so much for him. I don’t understand his hesitation with things but I am starting to realize more and more that I need to not push my ways on him. He is definitely his own person!

      August 19th, 2008 at 9:50 am

    31. zoom says:

      I love your posts because they bring back so many memories, feelings and thoughts. Damsel is right, birth order plays a huge role. It is an interesting journey to watch your child become who he is. Kudos for you for letting him.

      August 19th, 2008 at 9:50 am

    32. Kathy says:

      I’m with Sean. I am from a swimming family. Everyone took swimming lessons and succeeded, darnit! Everyone except me. I have no idea why, when I get in the water, I can not relax. I work on breathing right. On floating and forcing myself to relax. And even after taking swimming lessons every summer since I was 4, (and flunking beginners swimming 5 times) I must admit that while I like to walk around the water, splash my legs while sitting on the edge, I do not get much enjoyment out of the water. I don’t understand why….but its true.

      I guess this makes Sean and me land lubbers.

      August 19th, 2008 at 9:58 am

    33. Margie says:

      As an adult, age 51, I still cannot swim. I’m not afraid of the water as long as I have securities, i.e., life vest, jacket etc. Have you tried the little arm floaties just to let him relax and have fun a little bit instead of just concentrating on swimming?

      August 19th, 2008 at 10:06 am

    34. Shalee says:

      I was just realizing this analogy the other day when I was encouraging The Girl to jump into the swing of thing and “have fun”. Looking at her standing on the sidelines makes me think that she’s not grasping all the joy that is being offered to her. But then I had to step back and say to myself, “Shalee, The Girl is not you. Let her have fun in her own way.”

      It seems that The Girl is not the only one learning to swim the tides of these changes. I’m treading the water quite a bit myself, learning the new strokes as I go.

      August 19th, 2008 at 10:30 am

    35. Marie says:

      At least he goes in the baby pool! It is hard to not push sometimes, isn’t it?

      We’ve gone through something similar this summer with a gym class I signed my 4-y/o up for. He got so that he refused to go. Threw a fit. As much as I wanted to gently prod him in to the gym, for whatever reason he really really didn’t like going there. Sigh. Swimming, on the other hand, he goes for like crazy. Guess we’ll get back to that! Maybe he’ll take to gym games some other time.

      August 19th, 2008 at 10:36 am

    36. jolyn says:

      As we’ve been obsessed with these Olympics, one of the back stories NBC did was on the Japanese diver who was the fave for gold and a real celebrity in her country. My 5yo daughter was so impressed with the synchronized diving, and its beauty and grace, especially from this diver.

      The back story told how, when this diver was young, she was SCARED to dive. Absolutely petrified. Her coach had to push her in the water the first time. (If she was scared of the board in the first place, why was she taking lessons? why did she have a coach? They didn’t get into that part.)

      I told my daughter this, after she told me she was scared to do something in her gymnastics class. (I left out the part about the coach pushing her in.) Maybe I’m just being hopeful, but she really seemed to understand that this woman used to be a little girl, and that she used to be scared of something but she did it anyway. And even though she was STILL scared she did it anyway again. And again. And again.

      My 12yo was just like your son at that age. He’s a timid sort all around: if you waited for him to ready to do something you’d be waiting all day. I used to coddle and coax, but I admit I also tricked and cajoled and bribed. “Oh, look at that! Whoops, you just went under water! And you’re okay! What a brave boy! You do that again and I’ll give you a sucker!”

      Children’s fears need to be understood and allayed. But I’m with you on this one. Swimming is a life skill. Keep at it.

      (Btw, my 12yo? He won’t drown, but he’s not a terribly strong swimmer, either. And he’s never dived into the water, ever, despite much coaxing and encouraging. I am signing him up for a swim lesson this fall, despite his protestations. I tell him I want to learn the strokes better, yes, but also that he won’t have to take any more lessons once he is comfortable diving into the water. Diving is arguably not a life skill, except perhaps socially, but to me it is more about conquering a fear.)(I’m a meanie, I know.)

      August 19th, 2008 at 10:38 am

    37. apri says:

      Where, pray tell, did you find that handbook on good parenting? Someone forgot to give me mine. I really understand your frustration here, from having children try new foods to a new activity, it’s almost impossible not to become anxious or compare your child to others. It’s so difficult to keep ourselves out of the picture. “Whatever dude” sounds like the best thing to say, you can mumble everything else as you walk away. One day I stuck my son up in a tree determined that he was going to sit on its uppermost branches with all the other boys. Ten minutes went by and I heard the faint whisper of my son…”mumma, muuu-mAAAAA”. I walked over to see him sitting in the same branch I had hoisted him up to with red moist eyes, choking back the tears. When I took him down he dragged me over to some bushes and through his tears he said “NEver do that again, I do NOT LIKE climbing trees.” I explained that I thought he was having fun because he didn’t call me sooner. He said he was terrified the other kids would make fun of him so he sat there for a while…So, um, who’s breaking all the rules of good parenting???

      August 19th, 2008 at 11:08 am

    38. Lysa TerKeurst says:

      This is a great post. Funny thing is when I read the title I read it as “Life is a Blast.” And I would have sworn on my life that was the title until I finished reading, scrolled back up, and reread the correct title.

      My approach to life is so entrenched in the ‘life is a blast’ approach that I forget others are different.

      This was a GREAT reminder for me.

      Thank you. Once again, your words are strong, powerful and rich.

      August 19th, 2008 at 12:15 pm

    39. Quirky says:

      Okay, this may be from the non-parental point of view, but I don’t really see what the big deal is about swimming. I mean, it’s not like you live on a boat. So the boy doesn’t like to swim. It isn’t a daily skill that needs mastering. Make sure he can walk and bathe and feed himself and read and interact with others. Those are life skills. The swimming? Maybe just a couple times a summer. If he gets it, he gets it, and if he doesn’t, then you’ve still got the other skills necessary to make him a well rounded and successful person. I say keep going with the “whatever dude” approach. There are plenty of other more important things that he’s wonderful at doing.

      August 19th, 2008 at 12:31 pm

    40. Elaine says:

      Whatever, dude. FWIW, I was Sean, until God paired me up w/ my crazy husband. He will find his way.

      August 19th, 2008 at 12:33 pm

    41. Heather says:

      It may be about understanding the mechanics! I’m the oldest. I didn’t ride a bike until 7. I took swimming lessons for years, but didn’t master the breaststroke until age 15. I didn’t drive until my mother stopped the car and said we would sit on the side of the road until I got us home. Even then I didn’t enjoy it until I’d had driver’s ed. Didn’t ski until 26.

      It wasn’t the age that finally empowered me – it’s a good solid understanding of the mechanics – a driver’s ed teacher I still hear in my head, ‘pull breathe, kick’ in breaststroke, why snowplowing works and why you point your skis uphill to stay in one pace.

      I’ll gladly hike all day as long as you tell me how far we’re going at what’s at the end. Only when I understand the mechanics of the journey am I truly able to let go and enjoy it.

      This may not be Sean’s case, but figured I’d throw it out there.

      August 19th, 2008 at 12:49 pm

    42. Linda says:

      I can totally relate to Sean and I am a grown up (48 Years that is).

      He will be just fine he has you and your husband for parents.

      August 19th, 2008 at 1:49 pm

    43. James says:

      Hi AM,

      Your post reminded me of Catherine’s latest at http://wondertime.go.com/parent-to-parent/blogs/catherine-newman-blog/08042008.html

      Warning: it may make you cry :)

      August 19th, 2008 at 1:50 pm

    44. Sue says:

      I used to give Red Cross swimming lessons, and the major thing most people have to conquer is fear of putting their faces in the water. That conquered puts the schedule for learning to swim way ahead. Since you must be a swimmer, you know that what must be learned is how to blow air (“bubbles”) out of the nose when under water, or holding one’s breathth and then blowing the bubbles out when coming up for air. This can be accomplished without fear by having the child cup water in his hands, breathing in thru the mouth, and then closing the mouth and blowing bubbles out the nose in the water in the hands. This needs to be repeated in succession. Gradually, the child (or adult) can learn to do this in the bath water. Because it is impossible for water to go in the nostrils while air is coming out them, it prevents that hurt of getting water in the nose. The old-fashioned “bobs” of hanging on to the side of the pool, breathing in thru the mouth and bobbing under, letting the air out thru the nose– repeating this in succession– really did have a point.

      Sean is young, and yes, he will get it. My son was terrified of water (and rightly so) for a while after he fell off a raft in a lake. My husband and I were each pulling one child behind us on rafts that had little ropes attached. We stopped to talk, and the other one not pulling my son realized our 2-yr-old was not on his raft. We had no idea when he had fallen off. The Lord saved him again (he was blue at birth,) when we looked and saw thru the murky water a little hand reaching up. We reached down and pulled him up– definitely reminding me of the hand of God reaching down to save helpless us.

      August 19th, 2008 at 2:43 pm

    45. AZ Dog Mom says:

      Another non-parent here. I say keep up with the Whatever Dude for now. He IS only four. The regular pool, its big. He’s small. The wading pool may seem “just right” to him for now. By next summer, you may find yourself yelling at him to stop with the canonballs. ;D It may just be he has some fear that for now, he can’t quite express. Give that time. I know for me, I was terrified of the water when I was kid, whether I could see bottom or not. Now, I’m fine, if I can see the bottom (yes, paranoid still). My problem, besides an older brother that insisted on dunking me, was my other exposures to water. Between James Bond movies and Scooby Doo, I had the strange notion that pools had trap doors in the side that could open to allow sharks or scary divers in black wetsuits to come into the pool with me. Who knows. ;P

      August 19th, 2008 at 2:44 pm

    46. Rocks In My Dryer says:

      If you’ve already learned this lesson when your firstborn is that young, then you are MILES ahead of me.

      August 19th, 2008 at 3:19 pm

    47. Theresa says:

      Maybe he drowned in a past life?

      August 19th, 2008 at 3:20 pm

    48. Theresa says:

      P.S. I gave you an award on my blog :)

      August 19th, 2008 at 3:55 pm

    49. Emily says:

      I had to learn a similar lesson with my daughter learning to ride her bike. Once we “let go” and let her do it her way, she got it in no time! Getting to the letting go part was VERY frustrating.

      Emily

      August 19th, 2008 at 4:42 pm

    50. aggiema says:

      I can remember fighting with my daughter her first year of swimming lessons (she was older than most of the kids but still put up a stink of a fight) but the second year she was fine. Now she loves the water and is a total fish. She never could tell us what the problem was but she got over it. Hang in there, I know it is frustrating for you but this too shall pass!

      August 19th, 2008 at 6:14 pm

    51. apathy lounge says:

      I was a late learner when it comes to swimming. Perhaps it was because I’m hard-wired to be cautious. Mostly I think it was because I was the oldest child of a woman who could not (and still can’t) swim and whose complete and total fear of the water wasn’t anything she tried to hide from us. But if I can learn…anyone can.

      August 19th, 2008 at 10:03 pm

    52. Jim says:

      He will probably grow up and be a Navy SEAL.

      August 19th, 2008 at 10:04 pm

    53. Linds says:

      I paid for 2 YEARS of swimming lessons where my youngest son just sat on the top step of the pool ladder and refused to put more than one toe in. Even as a baby he hated the water. He would arch his back and try to run on top of it. And his older brother and sister were so at home in the water, and we had a pool. Bizarre. I tried everything and nothing worked. Then one day he just got in, as though it was a normal thing and was swimming within weeks. I have no idea what he was afraid of. And he is now grown up and a fine swimmer.

      August 20th, 2008 at 1:44 am

    54. Krista says:

      And what happens when you are the one who looks at life from a safe distance and plans all the angles before you do anything and your child is the one that rushes in head first before checking to do things?
      I don’t know how my sanity’s going to survive!

      August 20th, 2008 at 1:51 am

    55. Shelly W. says:

      Oh my yes, I think this is one of the hardest parts of parenting. My oldest daughter is now a junior in high school which means we’ll begin looking at colleges this year. We had always hoped that she would just immediately want to go where my husband and I went–life would be honky dorey then, right? Nope, she wants to look around, check out all the options, maybe go somewhere else. It’s hard to let them make their own decisions, but that’s when we have to trust them, trust the job we’ve done, and mostly, trust God.

      August 20th, 2008 at 11:20 am

    56. 2nd Cup Linda says:

      I am like your son, and lately I’ve decided it’s unfair that the brave, adventurous, devil-may-care elephant riders have something innately superior over the cautious. Our country loves pioneers, adventurers, etc., but not everyone is wired that way. So our culture lauds the ones who “go after it” all the time. I’m over that now. I am who I am. I don’t want to be a stick in the mud or afraid of my own shadow, but sky diving just doesn’t appeal to me. It never will. And about fear, one thing I’m learning is that being brave does not mean that you don’t feel fear or act like you’re not afraid; it just means you’re facing it. You’re not truly brave unless you’re first afraid. Sometimes we face the fear in baby steps. Like toes in water.

      August 20th, 2008 at 11:33 am

    57. Antique Mommy says:

      Linda, I think it’s the fearless (crazy) people that get the attention, but it’s the quiet analytical types that build buildings that don’t fall down on our heads. We need both and I think we all need to be a bit of both. What I want for Sean is that he will learn not to let fear prevent him from trying.

      August 20th, 2008 at 12:08 pm

    58. Sue says:

      I know you realize this, but, of course, while jumping in or going under for a longer period, it is best to hold one’s breath till ready to come up for air, and then blow the bubbles out the nose so a person doesn’t run out of air while under water! Remember, the bathtub is where the fear can be easily conquered.

      Also, in the pool, after mastering being able to blow bubbles out the nose under water, have the child tilt the head to the side, leaving one ear down in the water. He can then breathe air in thru the mouth from the side; then move the head face down into the water and blow the air out thru the nostrils. The head will move side to side. You may need to perch him on your knee and help him move his arms while he learns this. The arm opposite the way he is getting his breath is stretched out front while the head is to the side getting air. The other arm stetches forward and pulls back while he is blowing the bubbles out his nose. Keeping the fingers together– like duck feet– allows the water to be pulled.
      You are probably a former Olympic swimmer and needed no advice on the how to. In this post you are writing about something much more important than swimming, and I do get it. You are a wise parent, and your son is a blessed dude.

      August 20th, 2008 at 12:14 pm

    59. Minnesotamom says:

      Good post for me to read, being a younger mom with probably even less patience than the average mom.

      August 20th, 2008 at 8:12 pm

    60. Expat Mum says:

      It’s almost like potty training – you have to let them do it at their own pace. My middle one was like this and I decided not to do the swimming lessons until he was confortable. It worked and he’s now a great swimmer, spending most of the time doing handstands with his feet sticking up out of the water. He was 7 before he could swim which is late by current standards, but he now loves it.

      August 20th, 2008 at 10:02 pm

    61. Kelly says:

      Great post and great reminder. I can already tell my almost 2 y.o. is a “no fear” kind of guy. I’m more like Sean, so I’m learning as well, just lessons like chilling out.

      August 20th, 2008 at 10:16 pm

    62. Dee from Tennessee says:

      You have such wise readers ( oh, but not including myself..goodness how that must have sounded!)…anyway, I love reading their responses.

      August 20th, 2008 at 10:37 pm

    63. cyn says:

      Letting go and letting them do things in their own unique way are two totally different things in my book. :) Not easy.

      August 20th, 2008 at 11:10 pm

    64. Sally says:

      I was just like Sean when I was a kid taking swimming lessons (aggravated my mother no end, because she was a fearless child with 2 brothers to keep up with just like you.) Well, I had 2 older brothers and an older sister, but it didn’t make me want to try any harder…I always resisted learning new things and approached everything with caution. I am 46 now, and I am STILL that way (now it drives my husband crazy…)

      Sean will learn to swim in his own time (I eventually did) and you are a wise Mom for realizing that pushing him too much will not help.

      August 22nd, 2008 at 8:44 am

    65. Bethanne says:

      I have the same struggle with both my boys (both in swimming lessons and in life). It’s hard to understand that this is my child, yet he doesnt always do things as I would. It is also neat to see them doing things that I cant (ie. my oldest is taking guitar lessons – I cant play the kazoo).
      I guess our families are like the body of Christ – each with their own personality and purpose. Good word!! Thank you!

      August 28th, 2008 at 11:17 am

    66. Cindy says:

      I really enjoyed this. Note to self

      August 28th, 2008 at 12:11 pm

    67. Laurie Ann says:

      Totally understand the frustration and I think your wisdom is awesome. Great post! Came to visit by way of Lysa TerKeurst’s blog. Will definitely be back!

      August 28th, 2008 at 12:29 pm

    68. Sandy Cooper says:

      A beautiful truth, beautifully articulated. Thank you for this post.

      Sandy Cooper
      http://www.godspeakstoday.blogspot.com

      August 29th, 2008 at 8:08 am

    69. Skyblue Mom says:

      Isn’t it amazing how by blessing us with parenthood our Heavenly Father teaches us the most about Him and ourselves? My oldest introduced me to the God who gives beyond what we can ask or imagine. My middle child revels in the role and teaches me joy as she bursts at the seams expressing her individuality. My youngest teaches me what happens when I trust Him and pray for Gods will not mine. I am blown away as my heart grows and I begin the fathom how truly endless His love is because I am overflowing with more love than my own very limited heart can hold.

      September 6th, 2008 at 12:31 am

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