Swimming lessons! Or something of the like.

Blurry zoomed in times a thousand photo brought to you by my crappy phone camera. And that kid in the middle isn't mine, lest you think I had a triplet I wasn't mentioning.

Last Monday we started swim lessons for the big girls. I was mega excited! Swimming! Learning! These girls are water crazy, and since we joined the YMCA, they’ve practically taught themselves to hold their breath, propel themselves underwater, and you know, SWIM. I figured it would help to learn some skillz other than just flopping in the water, so here we are.

I tell ya,’ lessons of any sort are hard with these two. It’s just like when the preschool director asked if I wanted to try separating them into different classes: they model each other, so our lessons are an almost non stop revolving door of one twin doing something she’s not supposed to do and the other following suit. Claire sits obediently on the steps while the instructors go over the skill, Rachel takes off to flop in the water. So then Claire takes off to flop with her. We coax them back, then Claire swims off, and Rachel follows suit. I can see the frustration in the very mild mannered instructors, and it pales in comparison to my embarrassment. I swear these kids listen to me…most days. Some days. Definitely not today, but some days.

I want the girls to respect the authority of the instructors, but if I retreat I feel like I’m the nonchalant, negligent parent who doesn’t care that my kids are acting up. I do long to be nonchalant, but negligent, not so much. So then I turn into helicopter parent, sitting pool side to control my kids so Mr T and Mr S don’t have to spend all of their time corralling them and can put that focus on the other students.

Monday: “Waddya mean we’re not here to PLAY???” They both got put in time out for not listening, and thanks to the fact that I’m never on time, I didn’t get to put Zoe in the Y child care, and after seeing the pool, she was all, “Woman, I needs ta SWIM!” only she couldn’t. She cried the whole time, plopped her fully clothed butt in the water, and generally made sure I was NO HELP AT ALL in keeping R & C on task. Post lesson brought on the apocalypse of “But I have ta SWIM!” even though we had talked repeatedly about the fact that we weren’t there to play and when class was over, it was over.

Tuesday: Not only do I arrive early to get Zoe out of my hair — ahem, to the day care — but I also remembered to bring ammunition. In the form of lollipops. They still may not have listened too well in class, but they learned, and leaving was a snap. Also, I pondered later on if I flashed Mr T my hoo-ha when I squat-bent down in my dress to tell him something about the girls. It was a no win situation. Squatting, bending, he was going to get an eyeful of something that wasn’t meant for public viewing. The only way I’ll ever know for sure is to ask him, “Hey did I happen to flash you the other day?” and THAT AIN’T HAPPENING.

Wednesday: I spent half the lesson helicoptering, then backed off, hoping that the lack of my presence would inspire the girls to respect Mr T’s and Mr S’s authority. I’m not sure it worked. Also, I forgot the damn lollipops. After class I turned to gather our towels and realized I was missing one Claire, and after much harried scanning of the pool, found her squatting on the path, pissed at me because she couldn’t swim freely. Now not only am I helicopter mom, I’m helicopter mom who lost a kid when she looked away for 1.5 seconds. Shut up IT HAPPENS. (This is also where Claire would inform me that we don’t say shut up.)

Thursday: I decided to remain in the background to see if Mr T and Mr S can handle them. About halfway through the lesson I had to intervene because they were doing pool WWF and AGAIN WITH THE NOT LISTENING. Mr T’s relieved thank you tells me that unfortunately it was necessary. I know they’re only 4, but seriously, these other kids are showing us up with their ridiculous obedience and whatnot. Claire is Defiant Daphne (no offense to any real Daphne’s out there) and screams/cries/pitches an unholy fit when it’s time to go. On the upside it’s really true that a stern whisper is WAY scarier than yelling. Thank GOD this is the last day of the week.

And if you’re keeping track, yes, I remembered to bring lollipops. But lollipop rights were revoked due to the above screams/cries/unholy fits.

After Thursday’s lesson I chatted for a bit with Mr T about how I hesitate on the line of being a helicopter parent and hovering over the lesson and stepping back to let him and Mr S claim their rightful authority. After all, that’s one of the reasons we’re doing this — so that along with the skills they can learn to listen to other adults, wait their turn, and stay on task. Unfortunately, we seem to be failing miserably. He was understanding of my plight, and he LOVES that the girls are so excited about swimming. But with their constant mimicking of each other’s disobedience, and with a bunch of YMCA camp kids also splashing around nearby, there’s just too much activity.

So it looks like I’ll be helicoptering around all next week too. I had been looking forward to these types of activities with my girls, but at this point I feel like keeping them home and out of all organized things altogether. Dance class will become a free for all, and I’ve already sweated through a Gymboree disaster. I know that if the instructors could see past the not listening and the disobedience and stuff, they would love them (it’s happened!), but in the end I leave feeling like my kids are a burden on the class. And that sucks.


Stay tuned for week two of swimming lesson fun! Can you even stand it???



Join the Conversation


  1. You know I totally feel your pain on this. I have felt all of these frustrations with my 3-year-old twins. The details of their misbehavior are a little different, but my reactions have been pretty much the same as yours. (Except for the part where I just said “fuck it” and stopped taking them to swim lessons.)

    1. I love that twin parents get it. What I hate is that non twin parents just think my kids are crazy, uncontrolled imbeciles because they don’t get the dynamic.

      And I KNOW that I should sometimes say screw it and just pull them out if they’re not going to behave, but then the other part of me is all, “Oh hell no, I PAID for this shit!” Also, I didn’t really learn any lessons like you did, other than I can’t wait for these lessons to be over.

  2. And this is why I believe I am suited to be the mother of only one. Having two kids in the water at one time might give me a heart attack! You’re doing just fine, mama.

    1. It’s seriously hard. There just isn’t enough of my attention to go around most days.

  3. First, I think it is awesome that you have them in swimming class. Don’t be so hard on yourself or the girls they are there to learn, and they’ll get it. I was a WSI (water safety instructor) when we lived in San Antonio, and at that age they learn to love the water and the rest will come as they mature. Does the instructor(s) have any teaching lesson before they actually get in the water so they know what is expected of them. I had a coloring page that the RedCross gives out on water safety and how to behave in the water. One thing I did was get them all involved, and my class was 6 to one instructor (me), in some swim activity. If they have to wait their turn then have them hold a swim item ( I painted rocks, golden, with their names on them) when they listened they got to have the golden rock if not I got to have their golden rock. At the end of the lesson, we all got to blow bubbles and dive for your rocks. Also, another idea is for you to suit up and get in the water with them and you could work them on what the instructor is try to teach.and when the class is over they could have a few minutes to show you what they learned or just to play. Hopefully some of this will help, keep up the good work.

    1. I wish they could play afterwards. That’s the frustrating thing. The pool is technically closed, only open to camp kids, so they can’t do free swim. I’m thinking of taking them into the indoor pool for free swim after class one day. Otherwise I’ll likely be hanging out poolside to help keep them on task during the lesson.They are definitely learning. We go over it all every day at home and when C gets home.

    1. Oh thank you, friend. I wish that I could be confident that everyone felt that way. I had these same fears in preschool, but their teacher ended up getting quite attached to them. They are a force to be reckoned with, that’s for sure.

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