I live in a lake community. It’s a pretty big lake with three beaches. We also have 2 pools. In the summer, that’s where you’ll find us. Either at the beach or the pool (some days, that’s the biggest decision I have to make…and that ain’t bad!). Basically, that’s a lot of water around us and that makes me happy. I wish we lived on the water or even on one of the streams that feeds out of the lake. But I don’t, so I’m happy just to have day-to-day access to it.
As a child, I started life (ironically) in a lake community and then always had a pool in my backyard. To say I was part fish is an understatement. By 3 I knew the basic mechanics of how to swim. By 6 I knew how to swim and swim well. I had the ear infections from never being above water to prove it. So, my history and love of the water makes it a little hard, and perplexing, to watch my 3 year old daughter have the opposite view. It’s not that she doesn’t like playing in it. She does. But that’s about it. She doesn’t want to be splashed or have any part of her head or face get wet. She won’t go out further than she knows she can stand (yes, I know that’s not a bad thing). She doesn’t like me to carry her out past a spot she knows she can’t stand. It’s puzzling to me. Especially when I watch my friends 3 or 4 year olds run in and gleefully go under and get their heads wet.
And yes, there have been accidents. She’s tripped or gotten splashed, or holy hell…had a bucket of water dumped on her head by a friend (who would love to have the same done to them). Tears followed. Screaming and tears followed. I do my best to console and point out that she’s not physically hurt or harmed and that water is expected to touch body parts above the neck when you are in water. She calms down and heads back…leaving future therapy sessions to a minimum.
To encourage, I signed her up for swim lessons. (I’m really not a throw your kid in the lake and she’ll learn to swim kind of parent. I save that mentality for things like going down the slide.) If we are going to live in a lake community where you are in water almost every day during June, July and August you are gosh darn well going to learn to swim. We had our first lesson. Not as bad as I thought. She did attempt to “float” on her tummy and back. But that head was lifted up and not touching on drop of water (I’ll spare you what hair washing night is like around here.) The poor swim instruction probably has permanent nail marks in her skin from the death grip my child had on her. God bless her. Tomorrow is lesson #2. Here’s hoping!
Yes, I do know my daughter is probably the norm given her age. Yes, I do have friends whose kids prefer playing along the shore line and think getting in to their knees is a big big deal and I see that and I’m happy that she’s not afraid of the water overall. But I want to help her not be scared and, truly my bottom line, is to learn how to swim and be safe when she’s in water of any type.
I found this article (click HERE) about helping kids overcome the fear of water. If you’re going through the same thing, this might help you. I know when she’s older my view of peer pressure will change, but sometimes it’s a downright miracle mover when it comes to the little ones. Good luck with your little Ariel or Nemo to be!