A month ago, Ruby and Lincoln started swimming lessons. We had been on a waiting list to get into the classes and got the call just 30 minutes before Ruby’s class was to start that we were registered. The classes ran every Tues and Thurs evening with Ruby’s group starting at 5:15 for 30 minutes and Lincoln’s following immediately afterwards. While Lincoln’s class was a parented class (a parent is required to go in the pool with the kid), Ruby’s class was not. However, in the confusion that ensued when I realized we had 30 minutes to get everyone ready, finish the glass of wine I had poured myself when I got home from work, and get to the pool, there was apparently a misunderstanding about who was going in the pool and who wasn’t.
I had put my bathing suit on under my clothes in preparation for going in the water with Lincoln. Ruby saw me do this and assumed we were all going for a family splash. Adding to the confusion, I had bustled our family of four into the family changing room and got Ruby, Lincoln and myself stripped down into bathing suits. (WHY I stripped down to my bathing suit at this point I will never know!!) I walked Ruby out to the pool and stood there, suddenly feeling very naked when I was the only idiot parent in a bathing suit. Packing a couple of extra rolls and covered in tattoos, I have never felt more exposed in my life! All the other (fully clothed) parents handed their kids off to the instructor, Danny and walked away. When I tried to do the same, Ruby lost her shit.
So, I stood on the side of the pool trying to encourage her to listen to Danny and participate in the class. She would have none of it, clinging to me, she was screaming!!! “MOMMY!!! MY MOMMY!!!! MOMMYYY!!! NOOOOOO!!!! MOMMYYYY!!!”
Now, Danny is a strapping young man, about 6 feet tall and approximately 20 years old. He told me it would be best if she couldn’t see me. So I stepped around the corner back into the change room, hiding behind a wall in my bathing suit while people walked past giving me funny looks and then wondering who's brat was doing all the screeeeeeaming!!! Clearly there was no way in hell that Danny was going to be able to handle this situation. So I did what any over-protective, over-bearing mother would do. I stepped back around the corner and hopped in the pool with the 3 year olds and their teacher, while a gallery of parents sat back in their chairs and enjoyed the spectacle.
I saw Danny try not to roll his eyes.
I participated in the entire class. Cajoling Ruby to join in and “do what Danny says!!” “ Ruby, Danny wants to know what your favourite color is! Tell him it’s pink! Hold Danny’s hand, Ruby. No? Ok, hold Mommy’s hand then!”
(*sigh*... once again... stop tying this, Tara, you’re embarrassing yourself...)
At one point I said to Ruby quietly through a clenched jaw, "Do-what-Danny-says-right-now-and-I-will-buy-you-a-treat!"
Clearly I was desperate.
In my defense, I was a totally rookie to the pool and had no idea how it would all go down. The mad dash to get there on time didn't help either. I also can't help but wonder if the big glass of red that I threw back on my way out the door may have clouded my judgement at least a little bit...
After the longest 30 minutes of my life it was (finally!) time for the class to be over. As I hauled my soaking, fat ass out of the pool, Danny “strongly suggested” that I NOT come in the water for the next class. He said I should just let her cry and she would eventually come around in some sort of self soothing measure.
He threw down the “self soothing” like he knew what he was talking about!!
But *I* knew deep down that this young, wet behind the ears (literally) kid would never be able to handle her, much less get her to participate and we would eventyally have to pull her out of class and just teach her how to swim in the bathtub.
When I got home that evening I did what I do in a crisis – I hit up Twitter, asking other people about similar experiences and how they handled it and what their opions were. (Thank you @MarilyBelsham, @Harrietglynn and a few other non-twitter friends!) To my surprise, everyone agreed with DANNY!!
Let her cry. It will be ok.
In the meantime I spent some (quite a lot of) time talking up Danny. I went on to Ruby about what a great guy he was and how much we liked him (even though I was pretty sure I hated him at that point). I also told her I would bring my camera and take pictures of her! I would tell everyone what a good swimmer she was!!! It would be so fun!!!
At the next class, I handed her off to Danny and walked away cringing while she once again lost her shit.
Ok, Danny, she's all yours!
But by the end of the class she was reluctantly semi-obeying him.
Still I regretted signing her up for swimming lessons at this point. I could forsee a month’s worth of fighting to get her to the pool and then obnoxious tantrums and a big fail when the sessions were over.
Somehow though, she improved with every class and gradually got more and more excited to go to the pool each time.
Yesterday was her last class and it was report card day. I had anxiety like I was waiting for my own report card. (In a way I was, wasn’t I?)
My heart did a flip when I found out that Ruby passed her swimming class with flying colors and is ready to advance to the next level. She was so proud to hand me her report card.
Once I opened it and saw she had passed and read the kind words Danny wrote about Ruby, I chased him down at the pool and tapped him on the shoulder. With tears in my eyes (making an ass of myself once again) I thanked him for everything he's done for her. Giving credit where credit is due, I told him I honestly didn’t think he’d have it in him to deal with her but that I was really impressed and that he was a fantastic swimming teacher. He told me he’s had lots of kids behave that way and he was happy to see her do so well, that she was a pleasure to have in his class and that she is adorable.
And then I went home and poured myself a big fat glass of wine.