A lesson in Swimming - What I have learnt.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Saturday morning, another morning of dragging my son to swimming lessons. He gets dressed at home into his swimmers and then complains every minute until he gets into the pool. Twenty minutes every Saturday morning for the past 3 months, complaining “I hate swimming”, “why do I have to do swimming?”, “the water is too cold”, “It’s terrible”, “I can’t get it right”, “I’m not even good at it” on and on.... and on. Probably hoping we’ll cave and make him stop because of his complaints.

Believe me I’ve come close but we have a rule (Lesson 1) that the boys have to do one sport a season and once they start something they have to finish. He has been in swimming almost a year now, we gave him the option to do tennis (if swimming was that bad) but he insisted that would be worse (without even trying it:) ) so swimming it has been.

Lesson 1: Make it a rule, if there is something you truly believe in, make it a non-negotiable for everyone!

Lesson 2: There is no point in arguing, as it isn’t about what he is saying, it is about attitude. You see, children say things, words come out of their mouths sometimes and underneath is what the real issue is. It’s easy to ramble on and moan or grumble and as parents we get stuck in the problem solving and try to make things better.  We come up with comebacks to everything they say, we can give (convincing) reasons or explanations to answer their questions. All futile, and mostly unnecessary (see why down the page). Eventually after 10 weeks (I’m a slow learner) we kept quiet and ignored his rants, We discovered there was no point in arguing as it isn't the argument or words he says, it is his attitude.

Dilemmas, problems these can be solved through discussion, through argument or debate but attitude can come only from within oneself.

He has been working tirelessly in the swimming class to move up to the next level and while I am all for levels and measuring there is a downside- the risk of failure! His swimming teacher has painstakingly concentrated on his backstroke and repeatedly explained how to perfect his stroke and kicking style, his younger brother had moved up 4 months earlier so this was another obstacle.

We explained to him that when he got to the next level he could make up his own mind as to whether to stop or not and it was his decision then. It has been long and tough on all of us, seeing him try and try and somedays frustratingly - just not getting there, just not being good enough to move up.

Another Saturday, another morning of complaining, another practice, another session, but this time success! He got promoted to the next level. He had stuck it out, he had done it! And perhaps the fact it has taken so long means he feels even more pride. You know what, even more surprisingly to me - he came home saying, “I got moved to the next level, I need a pair of flippers like M’s now” What?!, yes you read right, he wants to stay in swimming.  The same boy who has moaned for months is now motivated to continue, to keep doing it for himself. Attitude, it has to be developed in a child. (perhaps there is another blogpost there)

Lesson 3: Don’t let your children give up without a very good reason! There are so many lessons to be learnt from perservering, from completing what one has started and eventually that sense of pride that can lift them up and means they can accomplish even more.

Has your child ever succeeded at something they have found really difficult? How did you respond?

Don’t judge me – this is my normal.

Monday, July 18, 2011

These are my children, I am their parent.
There are boundaries I focus on and some I choose to let go.
My children are individuals and I am an individual- as you are.

You cannot compare because you don’t know what is behind my decision, my belief,
my cultural background, my values, my upbringing - they have formed me.
My opinions, my views, my thoughts are not yours and they don’t have to be.

It’s normal in my house to hear my children laughing loudly, playing and sometimes fighting between themselves. I don’t mind that - it’s my normal.
My children may not swear in my house - that’s my normal,
Sometimes my children won’t be enthusiastic or greet everyone who comes over, that’s my normal
and what I choose to do about it is my choice, my decision – my normal.

My children may debate, sometimes I may want to abdicate – that’s my normal.
My children may be allowed to snack two hours before dinner time, 
My children may be allowed to watch two hours of tv,
It’s my normal,
My children may have to do chores,
My children may have to buy their own toys,
My children may be influenced by what I believe,
My children may get excited about time with me,
My children may or may not .....
it’s our normal.

We all have a 'normal'! What's yours and what is it based on?

A lesson in a stuck zipper – a metaphor for parenting

Friday, July 1, 2011

The zipper of one of my winter boots got stuck. I pulled and tugged at it and eventually just wore it half done up under jeans, it stayed on and I figured that no-one else would know so it did not matter.

Everytime, I wanted to wear these boots I would remember the zipper was stuck and would try to get it unstuck. I would jiggle it, tug at it, attempt to pull it up and down - to no avail. I wore it stuck like this for a couple of weeks. I knew material had got stuck in the side of the zipper and most times I was in a rush and could not deal with it and would just wear it half done up and think I’ll do something about it later.

Finally, one morning I had to wear these boots and could not wear them under jeans. I had to take some time and concentrated on finding out exactly what was wrong, I found the piece of material that was stuck and manipulated the zip and material in just the right way. The material was free and I was able to move the zip up and down with ease. It works perfectly now.

This made me think about parenting and child behaviour. Sometimes we get stuck as parents, we may notice behaviour that is not appropriate or difficult to manage. There may be behaviour that has been going on a while and we feel as though we’re dealing with it by noticing it, rewarding it or punishing it. We just don’t have the time to examine it carefully and look for the underlying cause. Sometimes we let things go on and it’s not until it stands out so much or someone else notices and comments that we are moved to action. It’s easy sometimes to leave things alone but a relief when we sort things out.

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