Thursday, March 04, 2010
As a parent, it's painful to watch your kids struggle with the exact same things you did.
I was never any kind of swimmer. I had the rotten luck to go to school districts that had pools, and where lots of kids had plenty of practice in water. That meant 13 years of mandatory swim units in gym class. It was horrible. I still remember some of them, and not happily.
Unlike other sports, you can't really fake swimming. Being "in over your head" isn't just a metaphor. And when you combine a certain gawkiness with an unforgiving medium and gym teachers who had the people skills of, well, gym teachers...
Watching TB gasp and flail and eventually come over to the bleachers with a defeated, hangdog expression, I knew exactly how he felt.
It's usually fun, if sometimes embarrassing, to see shades of yourself in your kids. They'll show some recognizable mannerisms, and sometimes pick up on quirky little things that you realize later are now 'family' traits. It's even more fun when they improve on something, or give it a new twist that immediately seems like it should have been there the whole time.
But those little inheritances cut both ways. When you see your own flaws, your own failings, reflected back at you...
Sorry, big guy. We're not water people.
And gym teachers have always been like that.
I inherited the bad swimmer gene from my father as well, and I don't hold it against him too much.
Find a YMCA or Red Cross WSI certified instructor for him for a summer and things should improve dramatically. Also, if he is less than 10, he's probably running into the problem a lot of kids have with swimming at that age where his head is out of proportion to the rest of his body (5 year olds have a head that is almost the same size as an adult head). For some kids, swimming strokes don't work as well until this resolves - in the early teen years.
They may not mean to, but they do.
They fill you with the faults they had
And add some extra, just for you.
Needless to say, it all made sense when I learned that:
1. I have scoliosis.
2. Mom has scoliosis.
3. Her mom had scoliosis.
4. Still waiting to hear on the great grand daughter.
Fortunately, all of our diagnosed spines tilt left (*GRIN!*)
BUT...at some point in my early teens I fell in love with being in the water, even when my swimming wasn't technically all that great.
Reading your post, I'm trying very hard to remember what made the difference -- Ivory & Anon 10:44's comments about body changes probably have something to do with it.
But I think also a few summers with access to a pool outside of classes turned me around. In other words, just goofing around in the water with siblings and friends. (At a local synagogue of all things.) I'm sure that's tricky to find in northern climes -- I did a lot more swimming living in So Cal than I do now! If that's an option at all, I recommend it.
My college required all freshman to pass a swimming test. Those who failed had to take a quarter of beginning swimming. Those who still failed had to retake beginning swimming for another quarter.
I was among the elite who took two full quarters of beginning swimming, never missing a class, and still couldn't swim at the end.