My daughter had her first swim class today. She is a phenomenal swimmer. And I’m not just saying that because I am her mom. She really is. So we signed her up with the competitive swim team lessons. When she gets to level 5, she can compete.
She was excited for swim class, and impatient to be in the water. She LOVES to be in water. Swimming or playing, doesn’t matter, as long as part of her body is submerged in water, she is happy. My husband is out of town for his Ironman race, so I had to take her- this is not ideal, as she tends to misbehave and refuse to participate when I’m there, but not with my husband. But he gave her a pep talk and took her swimming before he went out of town to review her skills with her. Too bad that didn’t work…
The morning started out rough. She misses him and has been crying. She said she will be sad if he doesn’t come home tonight. Well, he won’t be home for 2 days….
She took this cute picture for me to send to Daddy, but then it went downhill when she got in the water. I let the instructor know we signed her up for level 3 based on the qualifications online. She is capable of everything that level 2 requires, so we put her in level 3. The first few minutes were ok. She got in and the instructor told them to do 5 bobs. She can do that. She did it ok, but I could see she was getting overwhelmed. The other 4 kids in the class at this point were boys, and they were all bigger than her. And they were in her personal space. So when the teacher asked them to do forward floats, I could see she was getting anxious. She did it a few times, but was getting bumped into by the boys. So when the instructor asked them to forward float and kick to the other side one at a time, she lost it. She let out some gut wrenching sobs that I have never heard from her. This wasn’t the “I’m hurt” cry that can be pretty loud. This was the “I’m so nervous and anxious because you put me in an unfamiliar situation” cry. Her shoulders were shaking and her lip was quivering. I walked over and let the instructor know that Daddy was out of town, and that might explain part of this behavior. I tried to give her a pep talk. A very calm one, told her she could do it and that I would make a video and send it to Daddy so he would be so proud of her. That didn’t work. So I sat back down and left it to the instructor.
People may think I’m mean for not pulling her out of the class. But she has done swim lessons before and survived this. A few times she cried through the whole class, and the instructors told me to let her be. If I pull her out, she will learn that if she cries, I will rescue her. Now, as a mom, I do rescue her from harmful situations. If she is stuck on the monkey bars at the park, I will get her down. If she has a bee flying around her, I will swat it away. I will keep her safe. But she was not in harm in this swim class. She was trying to get out of the situation. No one was yelling at her or being mean. The instructor was very nice to her, and I tried to talk to her for a minute.
I think she has social anxiety. This is so strange to me. I do not have social anxiety. Since I’ve been home with her, at 9 months old, I’ve had play dates every week! We go places and are around lots of people and she is not an independent player by any means. She wants someone to be interacting with at all times. It took her over half the year to talk to her teachers and the parent volunteers in 3K. The thing I asked her new teachers to work on is social skills. It’s hard to have patience with her about this, because sometimes she is completely fine. And sometimes she is a mess. She hides behind my legs and clings to me, or she walks right up to someone and starts talking…
I wish I had brought my actual camera so you could see her face better. She was really sobbing. The instructor kept trying to get her involved. Was talking to her, calling her by her name…having a lot of patience with her. She did physically put her in the water and put her through the motions of one thing she wanted her to do. And the sound of her sobs echoed through the whole pool….And she encouraged her and told her good job and I cheered when she actually did something.
The dad sitting next to me said he gives me credit for sticking it out. But I don’t know what else to do to help her. I let her know I was right behind her and that she was ok. The instructor picked her up a few times and tried to involve her. I did briefly consider taking off my sneakers and jumping into the water with her. But as quick as that thought came, I decided it would not be a good idea. She didn’t try to escape herself, she was just crying. And afterwards, she told me that she cried because she didn’t want to be in that class, she wanted to go in with the smaller kids. I told her that is not an option. They are learning things that she already knows.
So by the end of the class, she did do one thing, but then when they had free time, she wouldn’t get up and jump in and try to splash the instructors like the rest of the kids were. I tried to bribe her, but that didn’t work either…
When we got to the locker room, I sat her down and explained to her that she is a strong, beautiful and talented little girl, and that she can show her teachers how talented she is. She told me the other day that she wants to swim races. So I reminded her that she needs to learn new skills to swim in races. She told me she would do better next week when Daddy is there because she loves him. She tells me this all the time. I don’t understand why she says that, because she is always telling me she loves me too. I do try to tell her that it makes me sad when she says things like that, because I know she loves me, but she behaves for him and not me. She never has an explanation for that….
Have you experienced anything like this before?