Sunday, June 22, 2014

babies can wait

A friend invited us over to swim with her family. I have never taken all four kids swimming, so I was a bit nervous, especially since the boys like to go deep, and 4 yo does not know how to swim. I figured that I will bring a stroller for 1 yo and strap him in as need be.

When we got to the pool, the boys took off, 4 yo stayed close to the side and I tried entering the water holding 1 yo. He did not like it. He screamed and tried scrambling to the top of my head. He did not want to be in the water. I waited a bit and tried again. No such luck; this child was adamant about not being immersed, not even sitting next to me on a shallow step. He climbed out and sat outside the pool.

A flashback: many years ago, when my oldest was one, we were also invited to a pool, and he also refused to get into the water. I spent an hour trying to get him in, and he just would not do it. I was so frustrated, sitting next to him on the edge and unable to submerge in the pool, to swim. I waited and waited, coaxed and coaxed, but nothing came out of it. I was frustrated to the point of tears: here is a chance to be in the pool, and you are not taking it!

Many years have passed. 10 yo got over whatever fear or discomfort he had. He swims, dives and enjoys himself. My other kids did not pause before entering water, so I forgot that a pool could be something novel and potentially scary. 1 yo reminded me that each kid is different, and he is in no mood to get in there and get wet.

Myself, being older and wiser, I did not push him. I sat him down on the edge, next to the shallow entry steps. I sat nearby in the water. 4 yo was taking turns with her friend practicing kicking and swimming. My friend kindly took her out into water and brought her back, so I could just sit next to the baby and watch him.

After some time, he reached with his hands and splashed a bit. Then he took a long water gun and swung it back and forth in the water, all the while safely sitting on the side. Then he reached in with one foot. Finally, I saw him turn around and try to climb into the pool. At this point I tried holding him on my lap while sitting in the water, but he clambered back out. He was doing this on his terms, not mine, and he did not need my assistance.

After another little while, he turned around again and again climbed slowly onto a shallow step. He stood there for a minute, and then decided to sit down in the water. After that, somehow he got comfortable and now I really had to watch him, as he was interested in going deeper. I was able to take him into water with me.

All of this process took over an hour. I do not know what he was thinking, or why he had to take that long to get into the water. What I do know is that there was no need to rush him to "just do it already."

How often at the park I see parents pushing their kids to just do this swing (and the child is screaming in fear), or go down this slide, or just ride their bike. I have the urge to walk over and tell them that the kids will do all these fun things one day, when they are ready, but this day might not be today.

I wonder if the same holds true for 8 yo's writing: maybe one day he will be able to sit down and write, but that day will not be on my schedule.

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