Thursday, June 9, 2011


I remember reading somewhere not long ago that Geoff Huegill could swim 50m butterfly when he was three years old. If my three-year-old is ever going to become an Olympic swimming champion, she's certainly not giving me any hints. Swimming lessons have been nothing short of torture, with fleeting glimmers of hope. On a good day, she gets through the class with a concerned expression and the occasional yelp. The rest of the time she's whining, crying, even screaming as she clings to her teacher's neck and demands not to be let go of.

It's a small class - four kids and the take-no-prisoners Natalie, whose confidence that she can break through to my Lola hasn't wavered in the year and a half we've been with her. (Because despite how hard it must be, I can tell from how she is with my girl that she loves her. And it is reciprocated.)

But there's a big block. Lola loves the water but needs to be able to touch the bottom, or hang onto the side or someone's neck. She doesn't believe that she can float. We've had periods of confidence where she's loved to jump in from the edge over and over again. But the fear always returns. 

If this were ballet or clarinet or soccer, I wouldn't hesitate to remove her. There's no way I'm going to push her to do something she doesn't want to do. But for me, swimming is a non-negotiable. It's about survival. Which is why we persist despite everything.

And I've tried everything. Star charts, bribery, reverse psychology, reasoning, begging. Yesterday, something novel for a change - I took her to the pool, kissed her and said I'd be back in half an hour. The bubs and I passed the time in the cafe and, when we returned, there was my little girl standing on the edge of the pool, clapping her hands over her head - "Crocodile, crocodile, standing on the wall, one two three and in we fall" - and she dived in and dog-paddled a couple of metres to the teacher...who then turned her around, pushed her off, and my girl paddled back to the wall. She started to sink a bit at the end, but came up grinning from ear to ear. 

I'm looking forward to my soy latte next Wednesday while Lola learns to swim the length of the pool!

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