Often I find that throwing myself into the deep end works more for me rather than wallowing in the shallow end for a while, in this case it was straight into the deep end for me.
I didn’t learn to swim until I was about 9 years old and I always hated that all my friends could swim but I hadn’t been taught properly. I always felt silly when we started to go swimming with school and I still had to wear armbands. I have never wanted my children to feel like this and so this week, Leo has been taking part in a swimming crash course.
Back in March when I first saw the course advertised, I decided that Leo was still a little young as he had only just turned 2 but a few months ago we decided that the time was right and we were going to get him booked on. So, I contacted Swimabout based in Cheadle Hulme and got him onto the next available crash course. I figured that doing it like this would help Leo’s confidence, my anxiety and Dan’s worries about someone else taking care of our our boy.
I have literally been pulling my hair out every time that I thought about him taking part in this course since I booked it. Many of you know that I have serious issues with other people taking care of Leo – there is literally only a couple of people that we are comfortable leaving Leo with and even then, it’s never longer than a couple of hours and when we are around the corner.
So handing Leo over to a swimming instructor (that we didn’t actually know) and not being in the pool with him was absolute torture for me. Honestly, I often wonder why I put myself in these situations but this was one situation that I wasn’t going to give in to though and so on Monday, this happened…
This was the first evening…look at his poor little face. I am pretty sure you can imagine what I was like at the moments like these – especially when he was shouting “mama, dada” in between those cries. The idea is that he is in the pool and mummy and daddy aren’t around, so you literally have to ignore the cries. I was sat on the floor, with tears in my eyes listening to him cry but trying to smile at him if he looked at me – I honestly felt like the worst mum in the world. I can imagine him being in the water thinking, why can mummy and daddy see me but they’re not coming to get me when I’m crying?
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After around 20 minutes, we had our first couple of smiles that lasted a few minutes but then he started again. Cue mummy tears again.
We do take Leo swimming when we can and he swims in the pools on holiday but he always clings on to us and to be honest, we of course let him, why wouldn’t we? No parent wants to see their baby upset and we know that we are even more likely to let him cling on as long as he wants; but this is why we needed this course – the intention was that it was going to benefit all three of us in one clean sweep.
Learning to swim is obviously something extremely important for a child and it’s something that we should all know how to do, as well as being enjoyable and healthy for you, it’s a potential lifesaving skill.
So day 2. Talking to Leo about going in the pool again before we went and he is all excited and laughing in the car and can’t wait to get there – shouting “pool” in the back of the car … although it was a completely different story when he actually realised that we were back at the same place again. Dan putting his Swimfin on resulted in pretty much a full on break down at the side of the pool because Leo must have realised that he was actually getting into the water again and without mummy and daddy. Dan put him on the side of the pool and .. well check out the photo, I think that pretty much says it all – not impressed at all about being plonked there.
This night didn’t get any better. In fact, he pretty much cried the whole way through the session. Well, I say cry – there wasn’t any really tears – just lots of noise and a very uncooperative child. Let’s just say day 2 was a write off.
Day 3 and we have an excited child again – until Dan hit the changing room and major meltdown Operation Leo commenced, although by the time he made it to by the swimming pool edge, he had calmed down a little and was saying “pool, pool” and actually wanting to get in. Could this be the night it all changed? Actually Leo did pretty well, there were a lot more smiles and a lot less noise. He was still pretty grumpy, although that’s more than likely to be because he doesn’t like being told what to do by anyone.
Leo had some time with Simon this evening who runs the classes. I’m not sure what he actually says to the children when he is with them but he is like a child whisperer and they stop screaming – amazing. Look at how he has Leo concentrating and listening to him in this photo – I don’t actually think that he has ever concentrated that much on anything that Dan nor I have ever said to him.
At the end of the pool time, we asked if he enjoyed it and wanted to come back tomorrow …. Result.. see the cheeky smile behind his hand.
Day 4… Well, we ended up being late to the lesson unfortunately due to a huge traffic jam on the motorway coming back from the 999 day that we’d been at. Leo didn’t actually have time to realise where he was before he was changed and in the pool with the teacher again and once he did, he made a lot of noise. At this point we were actually thinking oh no, is it going backwards again? Then the Child Whisperer started to talk to him again and lo and behold, the noise stopped and the smiles started, enough for me to get him smiling in some photos whilst he was in the pool which I hadn’t really managed all week. Smiling Leo led to a happy mummy and daddy.
Final evening ….. What a turnaround in just a few days, he has gone from screaming and clinging on to the instructors to not minding being in the pool without mummy and daddy, being a little way from the instructors playing with toys in the pool and laughing and smiling.
I’m not sure Leo knew what to make of the bike that was made for him out of noodles judging by the look on his face below – but I thought it was a great way to get his hands off the instructors and onto something else, completely fab for his confidence building in the water.
The lessons had so much going on in them, it was great for the children, especially the younger ones that by the end of the week didn’t have much time to think about whether they should be crying or not. Ducks, bouncy castles, balls, shark fins, noodles and lovely swimming instructors to keep Leo distracted enough to smile pretty much through his final session of the week.
So as you can see, Leo had us all smiling by the end of the week. It was nothing but torturous for the first few days and handing our son over to a complete stranger had both of us pretty much in pieces as it was the first time (apart from a small hospital operation when he was younger- click here to read this ) that we had done this. The instructor obviously didn’t know any of this, so it was really good for us to see just how great he was with all the children – not just Leo.
Next step is that we are going to continue to take Leo swimming over the summer and carry on with some of the things that we learnt to do with Leo in the pool to improve his confidence and then to get Leo booked onto regular swimming lessons when the new term starts in September and we will of course be booking with Swimabout – why would we choose anywhere else when we have discovered that the child whisperer runs it? 🙂
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Seriously though, all the instructors were fabulous with the children and it really did worry us that Leo was pretty much one of the youngest though – but we had nothing to worry about in the end and it all worked out fabulous.
For anyone who is debating whether to do this type of crash course, don’t think about it – get it booked, you worn regret it. X .
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To read a previous blog Kisses for Big Sister…click here
Take a peek at this video clip so you can see he actually did enjoy it! 😀
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