Friday, June 21, 2013

Just keep swimming...

Our decision to not travel East this year means we can try to take care of some things around here. Small repairs around the house and activities like swim lessons and more focused studies for the kids have taken over our summer plans.

All 4 kids have been intensely working on swimming. Pollito and Milagro just finished their lessons while Tortuga and Corazon are in the middle of swim team. I cannot believe they have been swimming for only a month. C. took the older two to the pool every day for about 10 days starting in mid-May in hopes of getting their basic swim skill strong enough for swim team tryouts at the beginning of June. They worked hard and made onto a small recreational swim team. Each morning they do two hour workouts and come home exhausted. By 7 p.m. Tortuga is a total wreck and can barely stay awake. I am not convinced that we won't have some serious fallout as swim team progresses for them but time will tell.

It has been interesting to observe them as they each tackle this activity. Milagro, who loves the water and has been "dying" to learn to swim, was completely overwhelmed by her lessons. She does exactly what the instructor tells her to do and NOTHING more. No amount of coaxing will get her to try things on her own when one of the instructors isn't standing right there with her. She won't play in the water or practice any of what they are learning. I hadn't seen here be this reticent about anything and frankly it came as a surprise given how much she wanted this. I asked if she wanted to quit but she was adamant she was enjoying it. Yesterday was to be her last lesson but we skipped it. She found out on Tuesday that she wasn't going to get her "badge" for completing the level and she tried so hard to pretend it didn't matter. The first thing out of her mouth when the instructors told me was "I don't care." I could see she cared and I could see it bothered her but she would not acknowledge that even to herself.

Pollito was totally different. He is reticent and hesitant about most things and the only one of my kids who I think is a little afraid of the water. He has had a hard time warming up to new activities EVERY single time he starts one. You would never know it from watching him in his swim classes. After the first 10 minutes on day 1 he was a total fish. He tried everything and practiced everything and his skills improved dramatically. He demonstrated a maturity and confidence that I haven't seen in him before except recently in dance classes. It was so much fun to watch him and see him so relaxed in the water. He still has a way to go before he is a "swimmer" but he is further along than I expected. I was sorry we hadn't set him up to start the next level next week but since we were going to be traveling to my mom's this weekend it wasn't the ideal schedule. 

Corazon has really struggled with swimming which of course reminded me of why we stopped swim lessons years ago. When she was 5 we enrolled her in swim lessons but her need for adult attention overshadowed her desire to learn to swim. Each class we saw her "charming RAD" unfold and that was before we knew she had RAD. She would pretend not to know something or pretend to be drowning just so the instructors could rescue her and give her attention. If we came near her she would quickly cut the drama and tell us she didn't need us. We finally pulled her out of lessons after a very serious stunt in which she almost hurt herself badly and gave all the lifeguards and instructors heart attacks. We vowed not to try that again anytime soon.  About 3 years later we tried again and the results were even worse.  This summer she asked for swim lessons but she was too old for the recreational classes available to us so she asked C. to teach her to swim. Tortuga jumped on that bandwagon so they both started their private lessons with C.

Corazon has had quite a bit of drama since swim team started but C. had a talk with the coach about how to handle it and he seems to be doing a good job of managing her. He is young (19) and is awesome with the kids. He treats them with the maturity of a young adult but with the attitude of a teen so it works great for them. She has figured out that she can't really get attention for acting out and the workout is intense enough that she has figured out not to expend the extra energy on dramatics. She also had her worse athletic performance EVER at her first swim competition. She came in dead last and while she generally is not competitive she was disappointed in her self. It was actually a funny sight. C. and I were standing there praying she wouldn't flake out and quit mid lane with some dramatic "I'm drowning, I have a cramp, or I give up moment." We could have cared less what place she came in. So when she actually finished we were sooooo excited and proud. We jumped up and down and cheered and told her how proud we were of her. She looked at us like we were nuts and with total 12 year old attitude said "did you notice I took forever and finished LAST??!!" We said we did but we were so impressed that she didn't stop or flake out that we didn't care and we were taking them all out to eat to celebrate! She rolled her eyes and LAUGHED! This is huge is so many ways and speaks so well to the kind of healing we have seen with her.

Tortuga is so tall and lean that C. has often said he is build like a swimmer. He has taken to swimming remarkably well and is doing really good work. He tries hard and works hard and is improving dramatically. He also won his first blue ribbon at his first swim meet and he was so happy. Initially his responses were totally appropriate. He told the timekeeper who told him he won that she was joking. She smiled and said "you won!" and he said "No I didn't." (gotta love ODD) and then added "I don't believe you. I think you are joking." She didn't know what to do with him.  By the next morning however it had gone to his head and he was the best swimmer on the planet who was always going to win first place and who nobody could beat. He even tried to give Corazon a hard time about her placement by continually asking her times and bragging about his. As bad as this has been it still is so much better than previous years so we are trying to ignore his boasting and trusting that he will learn what he needs to learn (and get knocked down a few pegs) as the season progresses.

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