Thursday, October 6, 2011

When To Push

Brother-Bug is a cautious and fairly quiet guy. He would sit on the couch, reading to himself all day if he could. He is intensely uncomfortable in group activities and class situations. He also needs lots of encouragement do do things with his body. He is so very much in his head that active play is a huge leap for him - from thinking to moving.

I'm glad we Homeschool him so that he can do and learn within these challenges, becoming comfortable and competent at his own speed. Contradicting that is my feeling that I need to help him push his boundaries a little, help him to thrive outside his comfortable, book-lined groove.

We've tried art classes (a success for listening and following instructions) and ballet (it went okay, but it was really hard for both of us and he didn't get comfortable until his last class).

Enter swim lessons.

Brother-Bug is the shivering body on the left. He's heatedly debating with his teacher about jumping in...

I feel pretty strongly about learning to swim. Of all the activities we might choose to enroll our children in, swimming is the only one I can think of that very well might save their lives one day. Sister-Bug is also in swim lessons (of the baby, singing and splashing variety) and she loves them. The issue with her is the opposite of Brother-Bug - she won't wait to jump in. She just leaps.

But back to the reluctant child.

Know that swimming is a valuable life skill, I chose to push it. It meets the two other places I want to push a little also - group/class participation and physical activity - so it's a good deal all around.

But it's really hard to watch him. He wept through the better part of the first lesson. Papa-Bug and I watched with breaking hearts as he struggled through fear and resistance, trusting that the (vastly underpaid) young swim instructor would be gentle with our little boy's worries. We wondered if we were pushing too much. We gave him a sweet granola bar when he was done.

The second week of lessons he didn't want to go. We went anyway and he wasn't as resistant as the week before. And, wonder of wonders he did great! He even managed to blow some bubbles, which is a major accomplishment for him.

The (someday going to be) courageous swimmer...and his excellently patient teacher.

He did everything his instructors asked of him, except jumping in to the instructor's waiting hands. He didn't believe her when she promised to catch him. He jumped in holding her hands. He almost did his back floats all by himself. And we took him out for a donut afterward.

I hope he continues to flourish in these lessons, and that I continue to let him struggle just a little bit. I don't need him to be a joiner, and I don't need him to be a professional swimmer. I want him to know that he can push those boundaries - that it can be safe and even fun sometimes. And that there are occasionally donuts afterward.


  1. I'm impressed! With brother and with your patience! I love reading your news, written in such a pleasing way. And I love the window into your world.

  2. Good job Mama!
    Have fun Brother-Bug and enjoy the water and the occasional donuts.
    It took our oldest years before he would actually jump in. It was thanks to my bestie and her gentle hand. He would not jump for me or dad.
    I still want to homeschool for these reasons described above. My internal guy would spend his days reading, drawing, writing, and singing if he didn't attend public school. Yet he loves his school community and isn't ready to leave at the moment. This is our in-progress family dilemma.

  3. Wow! That's awesome. Will you email me where the lessons are? I really need to get K into some! Love you!

  4. Their lessons are at Willamalane, just blocks from our house. It's an indoor pool with a big slide. I will email you better details...