This morning was a bit hectic. The kids got up at 630(Why!? Why can't they sleep in a little during the summer when we let them stay up later!?), I made green smoothies, cleaned up, Scott went off to work, I made granola, while it cooked I did Zumba in my kitchen with my MP3 player, I got dressed and ready and asked the kids to hurry and do the same, though I had them get in their swimsuits. I woke up Nora(it was about 930am now) and fed and changed her, we got in the van, I did my visiting teaching with a friend(something we do in our church to develop friendships and serve one another) then we rushed off to swim lessons that start at 1030. Oh and as we left my friends house we realized Jane no longer was wearing shoes. Jane has a shoe fetish. She absolutely loves shoes, she loves new shoes and loves to try on all different shoes, but we also have a really hard time keeping any one pair on her for an extended period of time. I had just bought these new sandles for her on Saturday so I hoped they would turn up. We did a quick search in the van and in our friends house but still couldn't find them. We had to go.
We arrived at the outdoor pool just as they were starting. Did I mention this was their first day of swim lessons? I put shoeless Jane and baby Nora in the double stroller and we literally ran over to get the kids in their classes. Charles and Elisabeth are in the same level for swim lessons so they went over to their teacher together. Annabelle is in the 'white' class which basically means you can't swim and you don't really like the water. Well, her 20 year old male teacher was about to find out just how much she didn't like the water...and him!
The nice thing about doing swim lessons at this pool is that you can sign up for a week at a time, swimming 40 minutes every day and they have all the levels going at the same time so that all of my kids that are in lessons can swim at the same time. Before we got to the pool I warned the kids that if they didn't stay on task and do what their teacher asked, that I wouldn't sign them up for the following week. After being in the water for one minute, I looked over at Annabelle who was standing near her teacher and the three other kids in her class, about knee deep in water, bawling! By this point, I had let Jane out of the stroller because she was being so loud and whiny, begging to get out, that I was afraid she'd get Nora crying as well. So I told Jane to follow me, and together we walked over to where Annabelle was crying. Annabelle climbed out of the water and came to me.
"Mom! I don't want to swim! I hate swim lessons! I don't want to go with him! I don't like him!"
Oh great, I thought. Now my incentive of 'next week swim lessons' was no longer valid for four-year-old Annabelle because she apparently didn't want to do it anyway. But I also had already paid for these lessons and I really wanted her to get some practice and get comfortable with the water. So I told her to hold on a minute while I went and got Nora who I had left in the stroller near a wall that I could see. Annabelle cried harder and was gripping my leg, pulling me down so that I could not move. Jane was now also knee deep in the water, in her clothes, and her shorts and underwear were soaked. I bent down so I could speak with Annabelle a little better.
"Annabelle, I'm just going to get Nora because she's over there by herself...." I was broken off by Annabelle's cries. "Annabelle," I continued, trying to get her to be quiet so she could hear me. "Annabelle, if you get back in the water then I will bring Nora over here and we'll stay close by. If you don't, then I'm going to leave." She let go and walked over to the water, still crying and sat down on the first step. I called Jane who came to me looking as if she'd wet herself but really it was pool water, and we walked over and got Nora.
Now I had the stroller with Nora inside and wet Jane beside me and we walked back to Annabelle who was still crying and looking very pitiful sitting there in the water, following us with her eyes. I asked Jane to stay with the stroller and I walked back to Annabelle. All the other kids in her class were smiling and having fun playing on Taylor(their teacher). Taylor came
over a couple of times with the other kids and tried to get her to come
with them but she continued to cry and turn away from them and would hold me
or would get out of the water completely.
"Annabelle, can you go down one more step?" I asked. She cried harder. I needed a new tactic. "Annabelle, remember that Cinderella doll with the broken arm that you have? If you
go in the water and go with Taylor and the class and do what he says then we can go buy you a
new one today." She went down another step. I'm pretty sure all the other parents were staring at us rather than watching their own kids. "Annabelle, can you please stop crying?" She continued to cry. "Annabelle, I'd like you to go down another step so you can get into the water a little more. It's not deep. It's really shallow. You'll be fine. Taylor wants you to come over with them. See how much fun they're having? And you have to smile and be happy, otherwise, no doll."
"I don't want to! I don't like him! I don't want to go with him! He makes me go in where the water is deeper!"
"Annabelle, he won't let you get hurt. I promise. Annabelle, don't you trust me? I promise he'll take care of you. He's really nice." She continued to cry. I was wearing shorts so I got in to my knees and held her hands. Together we walked around for a minute and got her a little more comfortable in the water. She even let go of my hands, walked around, while smiling, and dunked her head in the water on her own but she wouldn't go near her class. Jane was in the water now as well, sitting on the top step which was submerged in water, so she was soaked. Oh well, I thought; next time I'll bring her a swim suit as well. I got Annabelle to put her hands on the steps and kick her feet. At this point, Nora started to cry from in the stroller. Annabelle got out and followed me over to Nora. I picked up Nora and she stopped crying. I bent down to talk to Annabelle again. Jane continued to play on the steps.
"Annabelle, go back in please." She did. And she walked around the water some more, while smiling. But still wouldn't go near her teacher. I waved her over and she came back.
"Annabelle, there is only ten more minutes. Remember, if you want the doll you have to go with Taylor and the class." Annabelle got in, walked over to where her class was playing again, looked over at me and smiled, and then walked back to me. "No, Annabelle, you have to stay."
"But they didn't even let me play." She whined. "Annabelle, they will let you, but you left so fast. You need to go back in there and go right up to Taylor, okay?" I looked at the clock. "Annabelle, there are only two minutes left in class now, and I'm not going to get you the doll unless you go with him for both of those two minutes and you need to go right now." She turned around, walked back into the water and over to Taylor and joined in the game while smiling and laughing with another girl and having a good time. And so she went with her class for the last two minutes. And now she gets a doll. I don't usually bribe, but sometimes, for some children, it seems to help.
That was a frustrating forty minutes, but really, she did progress a lot during that lesson. At the beginning she didn't even want to get in and by the end she was walking the whole shallow end of the pool, putting her head in the water, kicking her legs on the steps, and finally, she went over to her teacher with her class and did what they were doing. The good news is that her next class couldn't possibly get any worse, right? So there's no where to go but up...it has to get better :). I hope.