“Mum, did you see me? Did you, Mum?”
What a difference 3 months of swimming lessons has made to Paddy.
Paddy used to scream. And scream and scream. He hated swimming lessons. As soon as we pulled up into the carpark at the swimming school, he would start crying and saying “No mum, no mum, no swimming lessons”.
He hated them. In fact, on his third lesson he screamed so much and got so worked up that he vomited in the pool. Great. Cue crazed parents rushing to drag their kids out of the vomit-infested swimming pool. I felt about 3 inches tall. Thank you Paddy for endearing me to so many potential “mummy friends”.
But I persevered. The swim school owner told me to stop watching Paddy in his lessons.
“Take a magazine and a coffee and sit in a corner, with sunglasses on, pretending to not be interested”, she said. I wondered how on earth this method could make him feel any better, make him scream any less. I tried it out anyway. I mean, what did I have to lose, except perhaps a few more potential friends and future play dates? I took along a couple of magazines (because the gossip magazines of today only keep a reader entertained for all of 5-10 minutes) and I sat in the corner, with darkest sunglasses on, sipping on my skinny vanilla latte, and read.
And a funny thing happened. The screaming stopped, and Paddy even stopped crying. I actually caught a glimmer of a smile at one stage. Could it be? Was Paddy actually enjoying himself?
It seems that Paddy was getting stressed because I was watching him, and he thought that me watching him meant that he had something to be worried about. And that got him all worked up. As soon as I stopped “watching and worrying”, he calmed down. Strange as it sounds, it worked.
Three months later, and Paddy is like a fish in water. And now, he is about to move up to the next level. The funny thing is, there are other kids in his class who are reacting exactly the same way as he did. One of them even threw up in the pool recently. And do you know what I did? I walked over to that child’s mum, who was completely mortified, and I sat down next to her and started talking. I told her about Paddy and what I’d gone through, and recommended she try the same thing. And guess what? It worked. And I even have her number so we can organise a play date. It’s a win-win for all.