Monday, February 06, 2012


one who abandons an attempt, activity, or chosen path

It is official.  Jilliana is a swimming school dropout.  When I last posted she had her first lesson and it went great for what I had expected.  But, when we went back for the second lesson she started crying before she even got in.  I thought she would stop but it only got worse.  She was crying and would not let go of the teacher when she was in the water.  She then began screaming, "I want my Mommy!" over and over.  I have to tell you that I have never had this experience before.  All of my other girls have loved the water. 

The teacher kept trying to work with her, but it only got worse.  She was screaming!  At one point she got out of the pool and tried to run to me.  The teacher cannot have this happening when she is responsible for other children that are in the pool.  I came over and put her back on the edge and she stayed, but she kept crying (loud).  

Then I began to doubt myself.  Was I doing the right thing?  Was this too early for her?  She was still screaming, "I want my Mommy" and reaching toward me.  This is when I really lost it and tears were in my eyes. (She could not see that because I was far enough away.)  I knew if I took her out she might never go back in a pool.  I couldn't wait for the lesson to be over.  My instinct was to go get her, but at the same time my instinct was to let her stay.  I don't want to blame the teacher, but I did feel that she should not be trying to put her under if she was crying so much.  She should have made it about learning to trust her, getting her used to the water, and making it fun.  When it was finally over we chatted and before I could start to explain a little about Jilliana, the teacher said, "She is used to getting her way, isn't she?"  I told her a little about Jilliana and then we left.

I thought if I took Jilliana in the spa every night, took her to watch the other girls take a lesson, and talked about it she might be willing to try again.  We did all of those things and invited Nai, Nai to come watch the night before. Jilliana said that she would swim.  We made a big deal about it and I was hopeful that it was going to work out.  I even bribed her with a sticker book.

So today we went and about half way there she said she didn't want to go.  I got her dressed and then we went in and she continued to say she didn't want to go.  It was time for our class and my Mom and Kami came in.  Jilliana was in my lap and she was not getting out for anything.  We watched the class for a little while and she was holding so tight and crying.  I made the decision that she was just not ready.  I hoped I was not making a mistake, but I just could not do it.

She is a smart little thing and knew I was disappointed.  We went to the front desk at the YMCA and had our money refunded.  We will try again.  But not now.

My little dropout.


Amy said...

My {bio} daughter is almost 6 & is a 2-time swim lesson drop-out. Our experience (both times) have been almost identical to what you described. I've been in shock over it for years- I was almost literally a fish when I was growing up. I would much rather be in water than on land! Not her, though. I gave up when she was 4. Our 2-yr-old son (who's been home @ 9 months), is fearless & I can't wait to get him into lessons! I'm hoping (like you) that our dd will see our ds & some kind of natural sibling competition will ensue & she'll want to learn to swim as well. Who knows. Good luck to you (& me!)!!

Anonymous said...

My mom went through something very similar with me. I was adopted from Vietnam when I was 4, and the first time I was taken swimming (in the sea in Vietnam) I absolutely loved it. Swimming lessons when we came home couldn't have been more different. I screamed and screamed and screamed, refused to cooperate, and to this day I can't explain why, I just remember an overwhelming feeling of 'I do not want to do this'. My mom and dad tried 3 times with me but gave up when I was 6.

Then one day when I was almost 9 I just decided I was going to learn to swim. So my big sister offered to teach me, and it took me a matter of weeks. I'm now 16 and I still don't like swimming very much, though I do like being in the water and I can swim if I really have to.

The point is that I think you have to be ready to learn to swim, sometimes you might think you're ready but then you realize that you're not quite there after all. Jilliana will get there in her own time I'm sure, one day she'll just get on with it and never look back. But maybe not just now.

Florencia xx

Paige said...

I have a swimming dropout as well:). We ended up having lessons a few months later in a friends home pool with a few of her friends and that worked so much better. I felt JUST like you when my Madeline was so scared to stay after the first disastrous lesson

deborah said...

That's did the right thing by not pushing her to continue if she's that upset about it. There may be a good reason for her fear. Sounds like the teacher is not too toddler savvy. She'll learn in time, perhaps, from being in the water with you, whom she trusts. Mommy knows best...don't doubt yourself. :)

Vicki said...

Thank you all for your comments and making me feel better. I really appreciate your insights.

Kathy said...

Hi Vicki,

I have lost your email but I wanted to let you know how it has gone with our April Panda (yes, our 7 yr old). She has just gotten her face in the water 2 weeks ago. She is terrified. We have a pool and a house by the ocean. She has been terrified. Only by having private lessons with the sweetest older woman you can imagine has she gotten her face wet. We have not pushed for the last 6 yrs. she had to come to it in her own time. Kathy in Va

K said...

Sounds like it was way too much for her right now more than liking or disliking the water. My guess is that it was too much, the feel of the water, of being cold, being away from you, the feeling of no human contact, the sounds, etc...

I'm willing to bet that you and her sisters can easily teach her this summer in your own pool. It's too much fun for her to pass up.

Anonymous said...

I had the same experience with my daughter when she was Juliana's age. She screamed and screamed and actually got so upset she vomitted in the pool. So, I took her out of lessons. Two years later, I signed her up at a different swim school. The coach gained my daughter's trust first, then taught. She is now 6 and can swim, but not independently yet. She loves being in the water (especially if she is with me). One or two more seasons of swim lessons and I know she will be fine. I try not to push too hard and just make sure to take her in the water a lot with me even if she is not in lessons.

You definitely did the right thing by taking her out now. Take it slow and just keep going in with her.

Amy, mom to Rachel (April panda's)

Sandi in FL said...

Hi Vicki!
I think you did the right thing too! I am not one for pushing kids to swim. Our first daughter from China is a FISH. Our younger daughter didn't take to the water the same way at all! We didn't push. We watch a house in the summer and get to use the pool, so I can be in the water with her all the time. We started her with a floaty suit, and though you can argue that isn't the smartest way, we did it anyway. :) Let me go back a sec... even though daughter #1 is a fish, because she wanted to be all over the pool, we also started her with a floaty suit. (and our eyes are ALWAYS on both girls, believe me!) and she progressed away from it as she got older. (Now 8, home at 2) So, our younger daughter now goes under the water on her own and all, but it took about 3 summers. So, I see tht she will progress out of her floaty suit as well. Just slower than her sister did. No problem. What's the rush? We don't have a pool at our own house and don't own a boat or anything, so IMHO there isn't any reason to rush. lol I know others have a different philosophy, but that's ours... For what it's worth. ;)