Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Tiger Mom in Training

Once upon a time I spent every day in a bathing suit.

From the age of fourteen through twenty, I spent six days a week in or around a swimming pool. Besides competitive swimming practice, my days were spent either as a lifeguard or teaching swim lessons. In that six year time period, I taught hundreds of people how to swim. Private lessons, group lessons, adult lessons, child lessons, I had done it all.

I knew it all.

Okay so maybe not it "all" but all one needed to be a really good swim teacher.

And then I had my own kids.

And I sucked.

I missed the window, so to be speak. That window of opportunity where my kid was filled with confidence and enthusiasm about the swimming pool.

Instead, I've got a hot mess!

Before Maeve's birth, I had enrolled Mo in parent child lessons. At under two years old, she loved swimming. Eagerly she would jump into my waiting arms, laughing and kicking, enjoying each moment.

Then it got to be too much. Having a newborn and a two year old, we put off swim lessons..

"We'll sign her up soon" we both promise.

One year passes and then another.

In the bath, just after the new year, she plays with her sister as usual, and I sit on the floor beside the tub.

"Put your face in a bit!" I instruct.

"No mommy. I no like it!" she barks. "I no like swimming!"

"Of course you do" I say, "Don't you want to go swimming in a pool?"

"No. I NO LIKE SWIMMING." her voice echoes through the bathroom this time.

"Hey Bry," I call, "Come in here for a sec. Mo has something to tell you."

Tears stream down her face as he enters the bathroom. Her breathing labors as she cries, "I no want to go swimming. I no like swim lessons. I not going to go!"

Way to go Jackie! Parent of the year over here!

Without delay, that night we join the Y, and enroll Mo in beginner swim lessons, which start the very next Monday.

As the weeks pass, her confidence builds as she becomes relaxed in the water, even finding confidence to jump in during the last class. Her well seasoned teacher is a Godsend, and Mo loves Miss T.

In the next session we find Mo's teacher to be a high school aged guy (Mr.B), who, Miss T confesses is only teaching his second session independently.

Wonderful!, I think, Let's hope he doesn't lose all the great stuff Mo got from Miss T.

Surprise, he is wonderful! Mo likes him, and he gives her just the right amount of support and instruction. I'll eat crow on that one.

As the session is coming close to an end, B gives recommendations to parents for the upcoming class sign ups. Glancing quickly, I notice Pike 1 is scrawled in pen.

No big deal.  It's only been two sessions, and my money's on the 2020 Olympics anyway.

I'm about to leave, ushering the toweled wrapped girls off the pool deck when B. makes his mistake.

Instead of leaving well enough alone, he catches my attention, stuttering a bit says, "Well I have Mo down for Pike 1. She's pretty close to being ready for Pike 2. We'll just see how she does these next two weeks, and then we can decide for next semester. She's pretty close you know."


I have little time to digest this information before Mo begins squealing into my ear, "Panera! Panera! Panera! Panera please?" as Maeve tugs my leg, reaching her arms up for me hold her.

We have a problem here.

Apparently B. isn't familiar to the logistics of swim lesson sign ups.

Remember those concerts that sell out within minutes, leaving would be buyers thinking what just happened?

Sign up for swim lessons is exactly like that.

First come, first serve baby. I can't be waiting two weeks for my kid's instructor to decide whether she's in Pike 1 or Pike 2.

The early bird gets the worm, or in our case the most ideal class time, so Mama's got to make some big decision here.

As it is Sunday night, sign up's begin on Monday, which gives us one night to decide where to put Mo.

That night, after the girls are sleeping, I broach the subject with Bry. Filling him in with the brief conversation with B, the paper, and my own professional opinion of the situation.

"Well, sounds like we should sign her up for Pike 1 again." he starts. "I mean, this way she'll be comfortable and everything."

"Really?" I say.  "I definitely was thinking Pike 2."

"But B said, she's close, not there all the way yet. I wouldn't want her to hate it, you know? It's only been two sessions." he continues.

"Ah, she'll do fine!' I say confidently.

"Jac, she's only four. It's no big deal". he finishes. "We'll sign up later tonight".

"I guess you're right." I concede. "Pike 1 it is then."

And then like good parents everywhere, later that night,

we forget.

Two days later, I wake in a panic. My heart is beating fast, and a cold sweat has broken out over my brow.

I shove Bry awake. "We forgot to sign up the girls for swimming. We're going to get stuck with some crappy time!"

Getting downstairs a few minutes later he pulls the website on the computer.

"Saturday at nine, right?  for both girls, right?  This way it'll be easy for all of us." he asks.

"Sounds like a plan" I say.

"Um," he coughs, "We got a problem. Pike 1 is full."

"Is Pike 2 open?" I ask, making sure my eyes meet his.

"Well, yeah. But I thought.." he starts.

"Don't think. Sign her up for Pike 2." I assert. "She'll be fine."

"I'm holding you personally responsible if the shit hits the fan on this one" he says, securing Mo a space in the Pike 2 class.

"She'll be awesome." I say, "I just know it:"

Saturday morning comes and she is awesome.

For the record, it was me who never had any doubts that it would be any other way.

Time to get your read & vote on! Yeah Write #56 is in effect!


  1. I come from a family of 4 girls. I am the only one of us who can swim. I was taught by my neighbors whose kids I played with often. I knew right then my children would be in the water with a proper respect from an early age. I stuck to it till my last one. Him I suddenly panicked over.. he of course swims like a fish. Despite my best efforts to keep him in the baby pool..

  2. It's so hard to make decisions like this. I broke out in sweats signing my little one up for basketball. He was in between age brackets at the time, and I was tormented on what team to put him on. It's also hard when we have expectations as parents that are so different from what our kids want/like. Glad to hear she did well! Stopped by from Yeah Write #56.

  3. Swimming is one of the few things I was diligent about enrolling my boys in. Both of them are fish.

  4. yea, i'm that mom that always forgets too... way to go, pike 2-er!

  5. Hah yay for you for being right! Glad its working out

  6. You are great.
    You are doing the best you can (and I think it's great).
    Cut yourself some slack. I'll see your kid in the Olympics.

  7. Woo hoo, so glad she did awesome. But you knew she would!

  8. Mother's know best ;)
    Glad you got in a class on time!

  9. I have just noticed that you have the same background as me! Great choice :)

  10. Thank goodness I am not the only one who forgets and then wakes up in a cold sweat. And for the record, getting concert tickets is way easier than signing up for camps or lessons because there is stub hub and ebay. Way easier. There are no second chances with YMCA sign-ups.

    Things happen for a reason. Go Pike 2! Ellen

  11. I'm glad it all worked out! Hate that pressure to sign up for classes before they fill up... Years ago I had my son in infant swim, to help him crawl. But he's not a water lover. I guess you could say he's a land lover! (He did learn to crawl, tho!)

    BTW I'm at LifeHappensThenWrite.com (Google plus will send you to my Google page, ick.)

  12. Swimming was something I was afraid of when I was young. How grateful I am that mum pushed me into swimming. Yes literally push me into the water. Are chinese/asian mums truly tiger mums? :P

  13. In the midst of swim training with my little guy. It is so much fun to see them develop the skills and confidence to take on the pool!! Great post!

  14. aha!! of course she's awesome! :)

  15. Yep, I'm the mom who forgets too. In fact, my 7 year old is still not completely proficient in swimming. Sigh. That's what we'll be doing this summer. She can swim enough to get to the side but she still needs more practice.

  16. "Like good parents everywhere, we forgot." LOVE that. So true! :)

    1. I think there are far more of us out there then we admit!

  17. ahhh i hate the rush to sign-up. and yes, i am the mom who gets stuck with the worst time slot.

    go pike 2, go!

  18. This is my life right now with my kids - registration, time, schedules... and the figuring out of it all! Holy Moly.
    I would have done Pike 2, too. Good for her!! (And you.:))

  19. Aw how great! I hope she continues to enjoy it!

  20. I was never a solid swimmer and had really bad teachers. I'm glad you're watching out for the kids and teachers.


  21. Mommy has the instinct to know when kids need to move up, dang it! He should never have doubted you ;)

    Swim lessons are, bar none, the most stressful thing I've ever had to sign my son up for. And he loves his lessons! It's just crazy to get the right class/time/day combination, like you said.

  22. Whew! Glad it worked out. And good for y'all for giving the girls confidence around water. I had swimming lessons (one) as a child, but I never made it past the one. I still fear the water to this day. I so wish my parents had pushed just a little harder to get me through those lessons.

  23. okay, you're a tiger mom but your tiger cub will be able to swim across the river and gobble up the baby foxes on the other side. what cracks me up here is the waking up in the middle of the night thinking OH SHIT I FORGOT TO SIGN HER UP. A perfect portrait of modern-day parenting, right there. Or the "oh crap he needs that costume TODAY" (a useless realization at midnight the day before)... and etc etc. Funny, funny, funny. Congrats to the baby pike. Look out Michael Phelps!

    1. I haven't had to deal with the costumes yet Deborah, but I do anticipate this will happen someday soon.

  24. The agony of trying to decide to push ahead a little bit or let them relax and learn at their own pace - it's so hard to know the right decision!

  25. This is a great post. You really capture the anxiety. I remember going through that with my girls when they were younger and I was enrolling them in dance (I'm a former dancer). As soon as I heard the moms talking in the vein of competitiveness about other kids, I pulled the girls out of lessons. They never returned. Now, when I see my older daughter performing in theater, I have a bit of regret. She would have been good...but...and sorry this is long...she is good at many things. I may have destroyed any possibility of her being a professional dancer, but... I am trying to articulate that it is stressful making those decisions. But as long as we love them, they'll grow up to be great...at anything they choose. Hang in, you're doing well. Blessings to you. ;)

    1. I get it Kimberly! As a former competitive swimmer, I need to find the right balance. It's her life, not mine, her passions, not mine, and that might be the hard part. I appreciate your kind words!

  26. great post! will be back to read more..........


  27. I can feel the stress as I read this, but it sounds like you all made a great choice. I bet you'll have a lot of fun once summer rolls around.

    1. I'm just worried she'll think she's more capable than she is in reality. Four year olds are filled with confidence!

  28. Oh man, reading this has stressed me out! None of my children have been in swimming lessons (they are 4, almost 3, and 18 mos). I need to get over my fear of babysitters I think...bah!


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