Last August we experienced the single most terrifying experience we had ever encountered as parents: Lila fell into a pool and didn’t know how to get out. She had just turned 3 a month or so earlier and although she had been in pools before — we live in Cabo — she’s never been a fan of the water.
Even water in bath tubs.
Prior to the pool incident, even washing this child’s hair has been an issue. Water in her eyes? Why, that’s cause for a screaming, hyperventilating fit up. (Still today.)
|We still use this on Lila. (That’s not her.) I’m serious. On amazon. It’s called the “Lil Rinser.”|
She’s not a waterbug.
After the scare, we immediately attempted two different swim classes. Lila wasn’t having either of them. She would SCREAM a blood-curdling scream, clamp on to me and refuse to get NEAR the water. We decided to wait and start swim classes as soon as the weather got warmer… give her some time to not be traumatized and terrified.
We kept on going to pools and the beach thinking that we could help her through this. Craig even watched a series of online videos so he could teach Lila himself. Still, she is afraid. At la playa, Lila runs away from the waves and screams [the blood-curdling scream] when the waves come in and touch her. She likes still water: the baby pool at the beach club, her baby pool at my sister’s house, the bath tub. She is terrified of deep pools and moving water.
Then Monday came. Her first day of “Swim class for 3 and 4-year-olds.” It’s a two-month class, twice a week with a teacher who has taught all of Cabo, I think. Perfect. This is exactly what she needs.
We prepped her.
Told her what was going to happen.
The name of the teacher.
What she was going to learn.
On Sunday before the Tuesday class I took her to the pool to show her where she’d probably sit; show her how it was going to work.
There was no crying as we prepped. She was actually kind of excited.
She got to wear her new favorite swimsuit. And, we told her we’d get her ice cream after the class was over. (A little bribery goes a long way in this family. Don’t judge us. You’ll get there if you haven’t already. Besides, it was frozen yogurt. Which I hate. Frozen yogurt is stupid. It’s like fooling yourself into believing that you’re really having a delicious treat when in reality it tastes like frozen yogurt. Blech. People who like frozen yogurt are the same ones who adore kale chips, sweet potato “fries” and cauliflower mashed potatoes. I digress.)
We arrive to the pool and the other kiddos (all boys – this is a big deal when you’re nearly 4 and a GIRLY girl) are already in the water. The Spanish-only-speaking teacher motions for my little bi-lingual cupcake to join the class. Lila shakes her head no and says the equivalent of, “Absolutely not, are you kidding me? I’d rather you waterboard me.”
She sits on the edge of the pool as a compromise. Craig sits on her right side, me on her left. She’s leaning forcefully against me and is clamped on, with both hands, to my arm. I hand her my hair tie to fidget with and try to pry her loose.
The teacher puts his arms out to her. She declines again. Too soon, dear amigo. She needs a few more minutos.
A few minutes later, he comes back – this man is a professional. He gets it. He probably wishes he could shoo us away so that he could just do his job.
So, I hand her to him completely and utterly against Lila’s will. She’s screaming and crying. “NO – I don’t want to SWIM. LET’S GO HOME. NOOOO!!!!! Mommy, NO!!!”
Within 30 seconds she’s stopped crying.
I’ll be honest though, her face was locked in a permanent scowl; her lips an upside “U”. (So cute.)
But, she did it.
(Remember, this is the kid who cried the first TEN TIMES she went to ballet… Read that post here.)
Just 15 minutes in, and the teacher was successfully sprinkling water on her head and face (!!!), moving her gracefully through the water, making her laugh and getting her to actually WALK DOWN THE STAIRS of the pool into his arms.
Her hesitations were there… but he persisted and she trusted. And of course she did everything because he is not her parent and the first rule of parenting is, “Always remember that your children behave differently, usually better, when they are not dealing with you.” (Can I get an amen?)
You guys, though…
Not only was my heart swelling with emotion because I was so proud of her for doing something that SCARES the wits out of her but my brain was thinking, “GOOD. This is so good. She is going to learn how to save herself if she falls into a pool. I will be able to rest easier.”
I know that’s a bit dramatic, but when your child falls into a pool and has no idea how to get out by herself, the one thing you need for her to do is to learn this skill.
The rest of the one-hour class was a success. Craig and I were smiling from ear to ear like cheesy weirdos. And I did look over at him more than once as I was conversing with a friend and I noticed that both his U.S. and MX cell phones were sitting next to him… They’re weren’t in their usual location in his pocket.
My sweet husband was ready at any second to jump in and save his baby… again.
I love him.
And she didn’t need saving.
Instead, she hopped out of the pool when class was over and ran to us and we smiled and screamed, “YOU DID IT!!!!” and she was grinning like a junior weirdo, too.
After we changed her clothes she said to me, “I was so bravely, wasn’t I?”
I nearly cried.
You were so bravely.
And today was Class #2.
Lila was pumped and ready for it. She wanted to wear her swim hat and goggles.
She’s always so fashionable.
|(This is the best picture you will see today.)|
And she slowly and cautiously got into the pool when it was time.
And she even went under water once.
Under the water, I said. (That’s never happened.)
I’m writing this to remind you to get your children into swim class.
Call your local YMCA or pool today.
If you have a baby, look into Infant Self Rescue. It’s incredible.
The summer is around the corner and accidental drownings happen all.summer.long… and not just to other people.
It happens in seconds, friends. SECONDS.
Please re-read this post if you need any more incentive.
Here’s to a safe summer.