This was a big year for our family. Bean turned three, which meant that he was now able to play any and every sport offered at our local YMCA. Chris and I were pumped. We had our sideline chairs polished up and read to go. This was also the year that both kids were enrolled in Safe Start infant survival swimming lessons. I was totally ready for this one, too. Nothing scared me more than having a home with a pool and two kids who can’t swim.
Swimming lessons for Bean ended up being awesome. Truly one of the greatest experiences we’ve had with kids. He learned how to flip himself over in the pool if he were to fall in and float until he could swim to the side and hold on until help came. I can’t tell you how proud I was of him. By the end, he could jump in the pool in full winter attire (long sleeve shirt, winter coat, pants, socks, and shoes), and swim/float all the way to the side.
His teacher could even flip him head over feet in the water and he could still get himself to the surface and float/swim over to the side. It was pretty spectacular.
It took Bean six weeks to complete the course. Gracie took twelve weeks. Every day for twelve weeks, I hauled that little redheaded spitfire up to the YMCA so that she could learn how to save herself. And every day Gracie screamed and pitched a fit through the lesson and refused to swim. It got to the point where they had additional instructors from Safe Start come out and try to help Gracie. At one lesson one afternoon there were THREE instructors in the water with her. And still, nothing.
Finally, I told her very sweet (and highly experienced) teacher that I just could not keep coming every day. So last week was our last week with Gracie at the pool. By the end, she could TECHNICALLY float. Kind of. Sort of.
When she got out of the pool on the last day of lessons, her teacher tried to make me feel better by saying, “I’m PRETTY sure that if Gracie fell in the pool, she could PROBABLY float…”
Who was she kidding? We both knew Gracie would sink like a rock. But I appreciated her effort. Truly. In fact, we decided that in six months when Gracie is a little older, we would bring Gracie back to that same teacher for real swimming lessons, not just Safe Start classes. We all agreed that Gracie, though technically the age that was required for the program, was just not ready.
Which brings us to soccer.
Bean started soccer in September. He had practices on Thursdays and games on Saturdays. Bean loved the idea of soccer. He loved all the equipment, like the shin guards and soccer balls. But he just never got into the actual game. He stood out on the soccer field and watched everyone else run around. Chris and I spent more time running around during practices and games trying to get him to play than he did.
On game days, he got really excited to GO to the games, but when we got there, he would say, “Can I sit in the shade with Gracie?” or “Let’s go home and see the doggies.” Still, Chris and I wanted him to learn about commitment to his team and all that other sportsman stuff, so we cheered loudly and dragged him out on the soccer fields during games and practices.
But last weekend, when it came time to get ready for the soccer game, Bean started crying because he didn’t to go. And at the game he cried because he wanted to go home. And on Thursday, he cried when he had to go to practice. Finally, we realized what was completely obvious. Bean was just not ready for a team sport yet. No matter how much we tried to talk to him about sticking with things and not quitting, he was just too young to understand that concept yet. All he knew was that he HAD to go do something that he didn’t want to do at all, and everyone kept telling him how much fun it was supposed to be.
This week I emailed his coach and told him that Bean wasn’t going to finish out the season. He wasn’t surprised, really. Bean was the youngest on the team and was the only three-year-old to make it this long into the season. Two others had already quit after the first two weeks.
So, we learned a parenting lesson this fall. Just because your kids are the right age, doesn’t mean they are ready for things. We also learned that just because Chris and I are excited about something doesn’t mean that our kids will be, too. We are dialing it back a couple notches and settling down a bit. I mean, they’re only 18-months and three-years-old for Pete’s sake! Mommy and Daddy need to take a chill pill.