Funny thing about Liam, for someone with such a big mouth full of cheeky comments and all his bravado, he really is a fake. Yes, he is an extrovert and will not hesitate to steal your limelight right from under your nose, but the real Liam is really quite a scared-y cat. Not in the way you think – he isn’t afraid of the dark or loud bangs or the boogeyman. He isn’t afraid of creepy crawlies or daddy long leg spiders. He isn’t afraid to talk to people or interact with children he doesn’t know, nor does he shy away from taking the lead in certain situations. For lack of better phrasing, Liam is afraid of making the first move, I guess. Pretty much like the kid who, yes, will jump in the fire if his friend jumps in the fire, but only AFTER his friend has jumped into the fire (remind me never to use that daft line on him when he is older – I mean the things our parents used to say to us?). Basically, he feeds off other people to quell his own fears. Case in point: swimming.
Liam has been going to swimming lessons for about two years now. Over this time I have seen his confidence grow in the water and he is very aware of water safety and watching himself around the pool and what to do if he accidentally falls in and so on. This is great and I was happy with his progress. This holiday my sister’s two boys, aged 7 and 10, were with us for three weeks. All four kids spent a lot of time in the water, swimming almost every day and I couldn’t believe the monkey-see-monkey-do that I witnessed over this time. The tweens were fearless in the water; cannon balling, cartwheeling, seeing who can hold their breath the longest, and all the other crazy things that 7 and 10 year old boys do. Liam went from sitting on the pool step, to monkey walling (when you make your way around the pool, while holding onto the wall), to cannon balling with his arm bands on, to removing the arm bands and using only the pool noodle to keep himself afloat, to FULL BLOWN SWIMMING ACROSS THE POOL UNAIDED WITHOUT FLOATING DEVICES… all in three weeks. Now after two years of swimming lessons, I have to ask myself what made him just “get it” after three weeks? And the answer is simple: just being in the water watching his cousins and wanting to be like them and realizing that his fears were really only in his head. Hey, maybe they weren’t even fears, maybe it was the safety training he had received that just made him cautious, but from not wanting your face to be submersed for longer than two seconds, to going to touch the ground in the deep end and coming up giggling and gasping for air… come on, that’s a massive achievement! Lauren over at Life in Lolly Land told me that nothing can replace actual time in the water, so perhaps it was also the continual time in the water, versus a once, sometimes twice a week swimming lesson? All I know is, Liam has his cousins to thank for showing him how it’s done. He still doesn’t know how to tread, but he can swim across the pool while kicking and coming up for air quite comfortably, I CANNOT WAIT for his first swimming lesson this term so that he can show off to his teacher!
As for Hannah – she is my no-fear child. She too, took to the water in new ways after watching her cousins and brother. She still needs her arm bands, but you have got to see this kid run and cannon ball into the water, happy to have her head submersed for those 3 or 4 seconds! She kicks and floats and holds her breath really well under water. Again, on Twitter, we were chatting about how soon to get rid of the arm bands and Lauren advised me that most kids get the hang of it after age three because any younger they just aren’t strong enough with only rare cases of children aged 2 ½ finding their water wings. I was always against floating devices because I just felt like they gave the child a false sense of security – little children think they can swim due to having worn arm bands and jump into pools without the arm bands, expecting the same result. OH the horror for any parent. Our swimming school is actually against floating devices altogether. HOWEVER, when I see how much Hannah enjoys the water and the freedom that the arm bands give her, and ESPECIALLY the way her confidence has grown due to the floating devices, I don’t think they are such a bad thing. The important thing is education I guess. Making sure they know NEVER EVER to get into the water without them, and instilling this in their minds.
It’s a welcome feeling of relief to know that Liam is OK around the pool. Of course this does not make me any less vigilant around the water, that would just be foolish, but I guess the relief comes from knowing that IF he had to fall in, he’d know how to surface and swim to the wall, without going into a panic.
Check my ‘lil swimmers out: