Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Swimming Lessons with Mr. Jesse

James started swimming lessons with Mr. Jesse when he turned 3. When we began, James wouldn't even go in a pool--and he would not, never-ever, put his head in the water. During his first lesson with Mr. Jesse guess what he did That's right! Head in. Eyes in. Nose in. Mouth in. No crying. As far as I was concerned, Mr. Jesse was a miracle worker.

Things have just gotten better since then. Oh, except for a few minor incidents... After a few months of learning to stay alive in the water, the first priority at Aquatic Explorations, it was time for James to move into the next level of swim lessons. Problem. James is not a big fan of change. Once he is comfortable with something he really doesn't want to try something new. He is going to be a terrible old man, because he is already set in his ways and he is only 4. Anyway, Mr. Jesse began to teach James some new strokes, something beyond the 2 "big arms and roll onto your back" they'd been doing for a while. These changes became quite traumatic for James. To the point where we would have to say prayers for James to be brave and powerful and not to cry almost the whole way to swimming lessons. And when we got parked the car. And when we got out. And when we got inside. And before he got into the pool. And, he still cried. In fact, he cried so much during lessons, that he made himself throw up. In the pool. Gross.

Mr. Jesse was incredibly gracious. He even said, while scooping up pieces of James' barf with the pool net, "James did you have grapes for breakfast?" What a trooper. That time he let James end the lesson, but told him next time he'd have to keep swimming. Next time? Was he serious?

Yes he was. Because it happened again. Now I knew James wasn't just sick, or had a lot of flem, or tired from a late night. He was making himself throw up to get out of lessons. It was going to work too. I honestly don't know who was more stressed out--James or me. It was painful to watch my son suffer through something that I could have easily put a stop to. It was also horrible waiting to see if he'd throw up in the pool again, to see how much of a problem he would cause. It was pretty tortuous. I was ready to call it quits.

This is when I learned a valuable parenting lesson. Sometimes it is good to let your kid struggle. Even if it is hard, and painful and you just want to hug him and say, " you never have to do that again, sweetie. Let's go get ice cream." 
 After the second throw up incident, Mr. Jesse didn't give James his 2 treasures. This is a big deal. If you do a really good job, your best, you get 2 coins, with which to purchase 2 treasures of your choice. If you do a so-so job, you get 1 coin. James had always gotten 2. So when Mr. Jesse said "no treasures today," I expected tears. James was strangely silent. If you know James, you know silence is very strange for him. We were almost home before he spoke. He said, "that's OK, I didn't want any treasures anyway." Whoa. I was dealing with something here. And I think it was even bigger than swimming lessons.

James threw up in the pool 1 more time. After Mr. Jesse cleaned up the barf, and I cleaned up James, he made James keep swimming. I was crying right along with James, even though I tried to act like I wasn't. Mr. Jesse kept telling him to "use his breath" and James would hold up 3 fingers and blow 3 times to help regain some self control. He made it, barely, through the rest of the lesson. I asked Mr. Jesse if we should take a break for a while. He wouldn't let me off that easy. He said James was doing it to himself and he needed to get through it. 
That he would
And that I'd be surprised to know how many kids threw up in the pool. (I'm sure he just said that to make me feel better) "James can do this, " he told me.

Well, James did. Making James continue to swim has been one of the best things we've ever done for him. He has learned about self control, overcoming his fears and what he is capable of if he pushes himself. He has learned that his body can do amazing things and that he misses out on a lot of fun if he is too afraid to try new things.

Mr. Jesse has been an incredibly kind and, patient teacher. At the same time he pushes James just enough to take it up a notch. When James was too afraid to jump off the side of the pool by himself, Mr. Jesse let James hold his hand, then his wrist, then his finger until James was ready to do it himself. That day that he did, I could see the fear in his little face, and the determination. He jumped, and I was so proud of him, because at that moment, he was showing true courage. I am so glad we gave him the opportunity to find that in himself.

I hope, James, that someday you will look at this and realize how proud I am of you. Always. I hope also that you remember Mr. Jesse and the valuable lessons he taught you about yourself. Way to go James. High five!

AND'll find James in the pool practicing his flip turns and learning the butterfly. He loves the water and can't get enough. Overcoming his fear has translated into other parts of his life. In fact, I wouldn't mind a bit less fearlessness now and then. When he's climbing trees for example!
Love from,

1 comment:

Erin McDonald said...

I for got to comment on this one AAAAAHHHHHH!!!!!! Ok so my two cents about this, ALL PARENTS should read this story and come to the knowledge of the truth in it! We kids need to be pushed some times to things hard or scary and tust plain naseating (Sorry i can't spell, most likely caused by not being pushed to do it more offten!) So any way this is a tough lesson for all involved to learn, the kid has to know that life is not going to be a walk in the park and that some things are worth pain and hard work. Parents have to realize that they are not God and can't always save their their children form tough stuff like pop quizes, lossing friends, marriage, kids. They can only be there to encourage them and love them no matter the situation. The sooner we learn these valued lessons the easer life will be! Well maybe not easer but the kids will have courage to fight and the parents will be praying harder and well all will win in the end!!!
So way to James and way to go Greta! You two have done a great job and I comend you! I love you guys! and next time we hang out we can all go swimming!