Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Sydney Won't Dive

After asking to take this diving class, and asking over and over when it would begin, and jumping up and down and squealing with excitement when she was FINALLY told that it would begin tomorrow, and being completely ready to go, towel in hand, hours in advance...
The poor diving teacher couldn't get Sydney to jump off that diving board for nothing.

Well, to be fair, Syd dove the first day of class. She dove--a little more reluctantly, but she dove--the second day of class.

Third and fourth day of class, though? No deal.

My part in the process was to sit in a chaise longue and bury my head in a book, giving off an air of "I'm not watching you! I attach no judgment nor value to your performance or lack thereof! Don't you dare go to therapy in 20 years and tell your counselor that I forced you to jump off huge diving boards at age 7!", while sneaking peeks at her out of the corner of my eye, and noting uncomfortably how long the poor teacher spent with her each turn (I clocked two minutes, one time) while four other damp children shivered in line behind her, waiting their own turns that would take all of 15 seconds each.

If I was the kind of mother I'd like to be, I would have asked her, before that third class, and perhaps halfway through it, and then again after it, if she wanted to keep taking diving, or if she was all done. She might have said she wanted out, she might have said she wanted to stay in. Who knows? Not me, because I didn't ask her. I didn't want her to quit. I wanted her to keep taking the class that I'd paid for, and I wanted her to participate, and I wanted her to obey her teacher and concentrate and do her best.

I wanted her to be a good girl.

But the thing is, I don't want her to be a good girl. I want her to feel free to change her mind if she makes a decision she regrets. I want her to do or not do uncomfortable things because they're her own choices, not because she's obeying someone else. I don't want her to feel like she has to be the most attentive, most diligent, most talented person in the class, in every single class she ever takes.

I might have stopped talking about her and started talking about myself as a kid there.

Now, how to combine these skills that I want my daughter to have with the skills of work ethic, good sportsmanship, and, yes, attentiveness and diligence that I also want her to have, I do not know. Does every parent stress this much about swimming lessons?


Tina said...

Oh, swimming lessons are a big deal here. When Emma was about 5, we enrolled her in a group swim class. She LOVED the first two classes, then we showed up late to the third where the teacher looked different (her hair was wet), and there was a new kid in class. She spent the entire class crying and the instructor had to hold her. Same for the next class. The fifth class, she cried all the way there. Finally, I realized it so wasn't worth it. Not. At. All. We turned around and went home. I sat and snuggled with her and we just talked about it.

The only lessons I force her to continue are her horse lessons, and that's only because I KNOW she loves them. Every so often she just has a rough lesson and wants to quit. I make her suck it up and keep going.

julie said...

I struggle with this SO much, especially with Syd. Sometimes, as with aerial silks, she wants to quit because she's frustrated that she's not automatically great at it, or jealous that another kid is visibly better than her at a skill, and I really want her to push through that, because I feel like experiencing her own progress is the only way she'll figure out that it's worth the struggle. That's why I'm okay that I basically forced her to keep at her reading--she can read now, and the struggle was worth it.

Other times, like with gymnastics or diving, I don't totally know why she's unhappy. Is it more frustration and jealousy? Or is it fear? Not-yet-readiness? Bad environment? Her gut telling her no? I felt like it was fear with the bike riding business, so I didn't push it, and one day she was ready. She can ride her bike, and not struggling about it was worth it.

I would REALLY like the instruction manual that I'm pretty sure was supposed to come with this particular kid.

pam said...

The first year Katie didn't dive either, but she did learn how to swim and that in itself was more important than anything. Did you enroll her in the classes because she wanted them? Because you wanted her to learn to dive? Or better question, did you do it as a safety measure? As long as she has learned to swim don't sweat it. Maybe next year she will dive, but if she has learned to swim, I think that is much more important.

julie said...

You have a really good point. This kid, though, is constantly burning my butt by asking to do classes like these and then deciding, after I've paid for them and she's gone to a couple, that she doesn't want to do it after all. Did your kids ever do that with you? I remember Katie used to cry like she got hurt whenever someone tagged her out in baseball, but she was, like, four years old at the time.

pam said...

I believe mine did a time or two, but I reminded them that they wanted to do it and they were going to stick it out at least til the end of the season or the end of the section of classes they were doing. That we didn't just quit because we were tired of it. I still think you should commend yourself that she has learned to swim. Don't think of it as being burned by the swim class, but that you know she is a little more confident in the water.

Jessica said...

Yes, I think every parent worries a lot about our kids and what we want for them. It so hard to know what to do at times. My daughters evaluation for which swimming class to go into was a nightmare, but once in one on one classes she has come so far.On the other hand my eldest only did two weeks of gymnastics (she wanted to do more then they would let her) and about 2 weeks of calisthenics (she couldn't see me and freaked...this was while she was still at school)but we let her leave each time. When it came to horse riding she loved it, but in the end decided not to go back for ethical reasons.(Abuse of the animals as they couldn't drink, heavy handed use of whips ect). But when she wants to stick to something she does.i think the fact she could make the choice herself has helped her a lot. But its so hard to know at times.Like with my middle we could have not gone back, but we did and she loves it now and loves her teacher. You do what you think is right, its the best any parent can do <3