Thursday, June 09, 2005

Brave Boy

I think I mentioned that my kids are taking a break from TKD. I signed them up for swimming lessons, which didn't go over too well at first, especially with Eli.

At age 8, Eli has never taken swimming lessons before. He's never learned to put his head underwater, either. He gets a bit frantic at the pool when he's splashed, and is pretty limited in what he can do.

After the initial resistance, Eli decided that he did want to learn to swim. So I was able to get them to the pool without much trouble. Robbie actually likes swimming lessons, and has taken them since he was 5, about once a year, so he jumped right in.

Eli, on the other hand, had some trouble. He didn't cry or cling to me, as he would have were he younger. But once in the water, he spent most of the rest of the lesson slowly climbing out of the pool--hanging on the side, then perched on the edge, then scootching back on the pool deck. From where I was watching in the balcony, I could see the teacher talking to him, and Eli shaking his head no, no, no I don't want to.

He cried after that first lesson. "It was cold," he sobbed. "I don't want to learn to swim."

I remember cold pools from when I was 8. That was when I started lessons, too, at an outside pool in Cleveland at 9 in the morning. Talk about cold. My lips would turn blue. But it seems to me I basically liked it.

Eli was really resistant, but I didn't want him to quit. So I told him what I wanted him to get out of the class.

"I just want you to learn two thing: how to swim underwater and how to float a little," I told him. "And I want you to try two things next time: stay in the pool, and say 'OK, I'll try' when the teacher asks you to do something."

And I added a bribe. If he did those two things, I'd take him to the coin shop in a nearby town. I said nothing about purchases, but what Eli really likes to do is talk to the owners of places like that.

It worked. On Wednesday, Eli stayed in the pool. He let the teacher pull him around on a kickboard; then he swam by himself with it.

He was very proud of himself. I was proud too. I think he was both scared and cold before, and he tried anyway. That's bravery.

No comments: