As you may remember, signing the boys up for swimming lessons was a difficult decision for me. I was nervous, but in the end it was worth it. Both boys absolutely loved it, and although Asher could only do modified versions of what the teacher was asking, it was shocking to me how much he improved and relaxed by the end. The kid is an all star back floater, and as of the last class he was kicking his legs on command. And face under water? No problem! In fact he head butted me multiple times trying to put his face in without asking me first! And Nolan? Pffft. The next Michael Phelps.
For the last couple of classes, it has been one of us alone with Asher (because of Nolan's surgery). This last week it was Asher and me, and for the first time I got to concentrate just on him, without dividing my time between the two of them. At one point, as in each class, we moved to the wall to do jumps. Both boys love jumping, but obviously Asher needs more help. It is a real achievement if we can get him to stand (with support) flat footed on the edge, because usually he is so excited to get back in the pool, his arms and legs are every where and completely out of control.
The ledge they stand on is directly next to the hot tub, which is always full of people. Last night, when Asher was preparing to jump, I could sense eyes were on him. His positioning and control weren't pretty, let me tell you. But I realized that although I knew people were probably looking at him, I didn't feel awkward, I felt proud. All I could think was "This kid kicks a$$. This family kicks a$$. Go ahead and look at how amazing he is!"
I know it won't always be that easy. I know there will be times that staring people will make me uncomfortable and sad. But knowing that this once I was able to feel pride above all else made me feel so hopeful. My issues have never been with accepting Asher and Nolan for who they are - that part is a no brainer. But I do struggle with accepting how CP affects their lives, and in turn mine. This experience made me realize that maybe I'm actually starting to (baby steps) accept all of this. Can I tell you how GOOD that feels?!
On a sort of related, equally proud note: Rio also excelled in swimming this term. She has always loved the pool, but been a very, very tentative swimmer. Most lesson sets it would be the same - Rio would master all the skills, but not do them for long enough. Not hold her face under water long enough, not reach down to the bottom of the pool far enough, that kind of thing. I was getting really annoyed (with the system as much as Rio) for having to repeat lessons over and over again because she'd only hold her face under for a count of 2, not 3. Anyway, mid way through this set of lessons, we had a parent teacher chat. Her teacher said her form was perfect but she wasn't swimming all the way across the pool, as required. "Can she?" I asked, knowing the answer. "Absolutely, she's just scared", said her teacher, as predicted.
I had a little chat with Rio and really pumped her up, telling her what an amazing swimmer her teacher thought she was. I then explained that I knew she wasn't swimming long enough and her face got red. "Rio, you need to TRUST your teacher. If your teacher says you can go further, you can go further. She won't let you sink". I then let the subject go because I knew I was making Rio uneasy.
Every week I would ask Rio about lessons and she would talk a mile a minute about it. I knew it was positive that she was so happy, but honestly I was prepared for defeat at the end. So wasn't I pleasantly surprised when we received Rio's report card and she passed?! Not only passed, but with flying colours. Her teacher had nothing but rave reviews about Rio's progress and how strong a swimmer she is.
Of course I took the opportunity to smother her in positive reinforcement, especially focussing on the fact that she believed in herself that she could swim further, and therefore she did. I feel like this is a real turning point for her. My once shy, nervous little girl who started to come out of her shell in kindergarten is now full of confidence. It is such an amazing transformation to witness.
While Rio is taking the January/February lesson set off to leave ample time for skiing, I'm not sure what we'll do with the boys going forward (they are now at the age where parents can't go in the pool for lessons, but they both need an extra set of hands). Taking them to public swimming is definitely a must in the mean time.
I think it is safe to say that overall, this set of swimming lessons for all three kids has been really eye opening for me. And to think how much I stressed over it?!!