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Why Kids Need to be Pushed, Sometimes

by Laura on September 16th, 2013

Hi. My name is Laura Dennis and my kid is a professional drowner.

What with our seaside vacation functioning as a mini-Serbian community–albeit among the Russians in Montenegro (with one American, i.e. yours truly), it goes without saying that I receive all sorts of advice about my children and their swimming habits.

First, there is the constant yelling about changing wet swim bottoms. … the moment, the very moment a child emerges from the water, he or she must immediately change out of the wet swimsuit. Grandmas, out of habit I guess, even yell at my kids to take off their wet gache.

Additional advice includes the mom who believes I should simply put swimmies on my kids, then I don’t have to worry about them drowning. (No matter that it’s the rocks they will likely hit on the way down that I’m worried about. At least they’ll be floating when they pass out from the concussion.)

See? Rocks. Slippery rocks. Care must be taken!

Swimmies can be helpful, if the children will wear them.

Mine have observed that only little kids wear swimmies. It’s not a problem for my daughter, who at 5-1/2, can swim and tread water like a champ. But my son will never, ever admit that he is little. For this 3-1/2-year old “man,” who refused to take swim lessons last winter, going without swimmies is a recipe for disaster.

The first few days at the seaside, M decided the water was too cold and barely dipped his toes. Finally, the outside temperature was hot enough for him, and beachgoers were surpised at my son’s willingness to splash around. Apparently, everyone believed that M was afraid of the water. He’s not scared, he’s just a prima donna like his mom and prefers water at 90 degrees F+ (32 C).

So I let him go in without swimmies, but reminded him constantly to stay where he can stand.

No, that’s not dirt on his rib cage; it’s what’s left of a temporary tattoo. “It’s real, Momma, it’s a REAL tattoo!”

And of course, everyone told me, “Let him go! He’s not afraid, let him enjoy!”

But here’s the thing: My son cannot swim.

Oh yeah, he can kick and splash and even do movements that resemble freestyle … all the while sinking to the bottom of the sea.

I tried to explain to the peanut gallery: my son is proficient at actively and happily drowning himself.

No doubt, he’s strong and a little bit of a goofball.

Yes, you’re right, that is in fact a real car. We get it. You can carry a car.

But the fact that he cannot swim is exactly why he must learn. The seaside is going to be ten times more fun for him, especially as he grows older, if he is a strong swimmer.

M is entirely capable of learning how to swim. However, his statement is, “But I don’t love swim training.”

To which I reply, “I don’t care.” “It doesn’t matter whether or not you love it.”

And so I have pulled out all the stops in pushing him to attend swim class.

Without crying.

Without getting out of the water five times during the 30-minute class to ask to drink water, to pee, to go home. The child even promised he wouldn’t eat cake at the next birthday party as punishment. (He didn’t even get to go. Mean mommy.)

Sometimes kids need to be pushed a little, they need to do things they “don’t love” … because it’s good for them. Because once they get better at it, they’ll realize how much fun they can have.

After the drama of Saturday’s class, he did the entire class on Sunday. Even if I did let him off the hook by showing up 15 minutes late. Hey, he did his whole class, even if it was technically only 15 minutes.

Baby steps.

Just not in wet swim trunks.


From → Expat Mommy

  1. pagemanuel permalink

    I'm just glad my son had/has interest in the water and learning to swim and that he didn't give me a hard time pushing him on this. Because at age (almost) 40, I will admit to you that I still don't know how to swim. I guess no one pushed me enough. Either that or I was too stubborn. :-(

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  5. Maybe didn't actually NEED to be covered by it, not for medical reasons, but maybe it was a security blanket, like young children sometimes like. Maybe he just got some comfort from it, so if so then maybe it. Rick Deckard Coat

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