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???