Nathan has never been a big fan of swimming. When we first moved here we lived in an apartment complex with
a pool. There was a ramp which was great for kids, it allowed them to walk up and down and splash in the water without having to actually go "in" the water. For that entire summer he never went deeper than his knees.
Last fall, we signed him up for swim lessons. A mistake on our part to wait so long to do it, he was 4 years old and very aware of his fear of the pool. Every Saturday Will took him to his lesson and for 45 minutes, Nathan clung to Will like a spider monkey. Didn't get our money's worth out of those lessons.
So this time around we decided to eliminate the security blanket, or should I say the security parent. This session Nathan is doing the child only lessons. The parent can watch the first few minutes but then leaves, and doesn't return until the last few minutes.
The first week Will took him and the report I got back was he did ok but was hesitant. Apparently the teacher held him most of the class. Not a great start... The next week I took him and it wasn't pretty. I walked him out to the pool deck and immediately felt 4 limbs wrap around my leg. He started to cry and beg me not to leave. He was sobbing that he didn't want to go in the pool and I stood there using one arm to try and hold Ryan from jumping in and using the other arm to try and peel Nathan off of me.
The instructor couldn't do much to help since she was already in the water with the rest of the class but luckily a lifeguard walked over and distracted Nathan long enough for me to pull myself free and run out the door. I felt terrible the entire class but when I went back at the end, I was pleasantly surprised to find him jumping off the ledge into the instructor's arms.
This week I wasn't sure how it would go. We talked a lot about how exciting it would be to jump in the pool again and what new things he might learn how to do this week. I held my breath as we walked into the pool area and prepared myself for a quick getaway. But to my surprise, he happily joined the rest of the kids and waved goodbye. When another boy in the class started to cry, I ran out as fast as I could, before Nathan remembered how much he didn't want to be there.
I sat out in the waiting room duringclass hoping he was having fun and could hardly wait to see him jumping in when I got back. But when I went back in 45 minutes later, I didn't see him jumping. I saw him swimming! All the kids were lined up against the wall of the pool and one by one, the instructor told them to go. Nathan saw me come in and waved frantically. On Nathan's turn he jumped in. And started swimming!!!
He looked up at me as he dog paddled his tiny body as fast as he could, arms flailing and water splashing in his eyes. The look on his face kept going back and forth between pride and terror. A few times his instructor had to gently steer him back on course as he drifted the wrong way but he eventually made it all the way to the other side of the pool.
My little boy, who just last week was begging me not to leave him, just swam from one side of the pool to the other. By himself!! I could hardly contain myself and tried wipe my tears away enough to take some pictures.
He ended the class by jumping in with the rest of the kids and the whole time he was smiling ear to ear. At the end of class we walked over to Starbucks. A special moment deserves a special treat so he got to pick out whatever he wanted. He chose a chocolate cake pop. The smile on his face matched the way I was feeling too. Pure joy.
My sweet little Nathan constantly surprises me. He goes through life at his own pace. You can't rush him. But when he's ready, there's no holding him back.