It was a beautiful afternoon. Blue, sunny, skies warm temperatures – a perfect Seattle summer day. My three year old and I walked towards the community center holding hands. As we got closer she froze up. She stopped walking. She said, “I don’t want to go.”
I kept walking and gently nudged her. “Why don’t you want to swim tonight?” She started pulling me back, but did not answer. I picked her up and walked in. We signed in at the front desk and proceeded into the locker room to change for swimming lessons. We were running a few minutes late, so everyone had already headed out of the locker room and in to the pool.
As I pulled her shirt over her head, she started crying. “I don’t want to go to swimming lessons tonight.”
WHAT? I expected this on the first day of swimming lessons, but not on the fifth lesson.
“Why not sweetie?” I proceeded to undress her and she started crying louder.
“I don’t want swimming!”
“But you haven’t told me why.”
“Because I don’t want to!” I held the holes for the legs of her bathing suit open in front of her so she could step in it. “NO! I don’t want swimming!” I proceeded to put her bathing suit on her as she fought me. “Why don’t you want to swim? You’ve told me that it’s so much fun!”
I proceeded to rinse her off in the shower before heading to the pool and she started stomping her feet, “I don’t want to swim!”
I took her out of the shower, bent down to her level and said, “You really have had so much fun swimming at your past lessons. Is something bothering you?”
“I am trying to understand why you don’t want to be here tonight. Can you tell me why you don’t want to go in the pool?”
Silent stare. I take her by the hand and proceed to the pool. Everyone is already in and the lessons have already started.
She started crying again and clinging to me. Yes, I was that mom with the crying kid at the edge of the pool. It may not have been true, but I felt as if all eyes were on me. Parents eager to see how I would handle this situation.
Her teacher smiled at us. I said, “Well sweetie, we are here. Your teacher looks really happy to see you and he is waiting for you to get in. Ready?”
I bent down. “Well, I need to move out of this area. Look around. There are no parents standing here on the pool deck. They are over there by the benches.” She looks towards the bleachers.
“I need you to sit at the edge of the pool and I will wait for you over there.” I walked away and went to sit at the bench. She stopped crying.
She just sat at the edge of the pool with her feet in the water the whole class. She never participated. She would smile and laugh when her classmates were having fun blowing bubbles and jumping in, but when her teacher asked her if she wanted a turn, her smile would disappear and she would shake her head no.
After class was over and she showered, I asked her why she didn’t want to swim tonight. She shrugged her shoulders. A mom came over to me and said, “I’m so sorry, it looks like she was having a hard time today. You just never know how they are going to act.”
And then I realized – that is exactly it! My youngest can be so unpredictable – so unlike my oldest! I feel like my oldest never put me through the terrible 2’s and terrible 3’s. I am just not used to this. And that made me feel SO much better.
I felt (emotionally) exhausted by the time I got home. We snuggled and read some books while I had a glass of wine. I am keeping my fingers crossed for less drama at next week’s swim lesson!
Has your child ever acted the total opposite of what you expected? How did you he/she act? How did you react or handle it?
This is an original post for World Moms Blog by Eva Fannon. Eva can be found on Twitter @evafannon.
Photo credit to Microsoft Clip Art Gallery.