Sunday, August 28, 2011

Swim Lesson Fiasco

This summer we signed the girls up for their second round of swim lessons. Kenzie has become pretty confident in the water so I signed her up for a Level 2 class where she could start to learn some strokes and get better at swimming.

All summer long the girls asked me when swim lessons would start. Finally at the end of July, we put on our swim suits, grabbed our towels and headed to the Roy Complex for our lessons. They were so excited. Hannah even headed off to class (even though the teacher was a boy!) without any trouble at all.

I was playing with Ellie in the bleachers, watching the action and thinking how wonderful swim lessons would be and the next thing I know, a sobbing, screeching Kenzie is next to me crying about how she doesn't like swim lessons. I am puzzled. Kenzie won't tell me what happened and I didn't see anything. I try giving her a hug (drenching my clothes) and sending her back. "You like swimming. Look you can do what your class is doing. You can do it. You've floated on your back before. Go on."

I try gently directing her back to her class. She refuses, crying and crying.

"Here I'll walk you back out there. Come on." I take her hand and we walk over to her class. Her teacher spends some valuable class time trying to convince Kenzie back to the water. She starts to get back in. I am walking away when the crying Kenzie comes back to my side again.

My patience, which I did not think would be tried by my children refusing to do things I paid for that are supposed to be fun, runs thin. I try the reward mode.

"Look Kenz. If you go back to swim lessons I have an ice cream cone with your name on it that you can have when we get home. But you have to go swim and stay in your class."

She sits next to me and cries harder.

"Come on don't you want an ice cream cone? Mmm. You love ice cream." (Just like she loves swimming, I thought)

The forty-five minutes of class are ticking away as her class members practice floating and swimming to the teacher, things that Kenzie can do. Things she needs to practice. I give her a five minute time limit to get back to her class, or no ice cream!  The five minutes tick away. My patience ticks away.

"Fine. Kenz, these lessons cost $45. Do you understand how many chores that is?  That's 180 chores. You're going to swim lessons or you're doing chores for the rest of your life to pay for them. Do you like chores? Because you're going to have to do four a day. Remember how you hate doing two a day? Well it's going to be worse. Four a day. It's going to take you all day. And they'll be chores I chose."

"I don't want to go to swim lessons," Kenzie sobs. "And I won't do chores! I won't!"

"Well how are you going to pay me?" I'm getting angrier by the minute. "Just go out there and swim! You like swimming! Don't be a quitter." (resorting to name calling always works with children)

At this point, my sister-in-law, steps in. "Hey Kenz, we're going to Uncle Josh's work to swim after lessons today. Do you want to go?"

A tear-streaked Kenzie nods.

"Well, you have to go and finish your lessons."

"Did you hear that Kenz? Go on. Go!"  Kenzie finally (with ten minutes left in the class), goes back to class.

After class we had a great time swimming with Josh and Sherrie and their kids and Kenzie showed her prowess at swimming underwater and back floating. I know the class isn't too advanced for her.

"Next time I'll go to class," says Kenzie.

But it was the same pattern at the next lesson. What the heck? She even started acting the same way at tumbling lessons, coming out of class crying at me. Finally, when she refused to put her swimsuit on for the third lesson, I gave up. Luckily I was still able to get a refund, or she really would have been doing 180 chores.

I never thought I would have to teach my children everything. When they are babies it's things like teaching a child not to throw themselves off of surfaces taller than they are, how to get food to their mouth instead of their ear, and how to go to sleep and stay asleep, that surprise me. I thought survival skills were somewhat innate.

Now that my kids are getting a little older it's lessons like "don't give up at the first sign of hard work," or "throwing fits makes people want to run away from you," and "if you're not nice no one will want to be around you," that surprise me. And the fact that we have to learn these lessons OVER AND OVER AND OVER.

It's hard to teach them how to be happy.

Thursday, August 25, 2011


1. Don't wake up the baby.
2. Don't make extra work for Mom.

We could have some peace around here if these darn kids would just cooperate.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Rage, Rage Against Trifles

When I was little from inside our house we could hear our neighbor yelling from inside her house at her boys. She had quite a set of pipes and I remember thinking, "She must be a pretty angry person. I won't ever yell like that."

Since parenthood is all about dining sumptuously on the words you previously said, of course I have yelled like that.

Yesterday in fact. And it was stupid.
Here, let me set the scene:
Hannah and Kenzie had their cousins over to play. I had gone in to use the bathroom and when I came out, Ellie, who had just been put down for her nap 30 minutes ago, was crying. ARGHHHHH.  Hannah and Koy were downstairs playing loudly by Ellie's bedroom. "Out!" I said in a furious whisper, pointing up the stairs with fire in my eyes. I wasn't at yelling level because that would only exacerbate the situation.

Right now the largest goal in my life is Naps and Bedtime. I suppose I'm OCD about it.

I hoped Ellie would go back to sleep if I took the kids outside and let it be quiet for a bit. She really should have been sleeping. Really. She missed her morning nap and needed a good couple hours to make up for it.

We headed outside and I put some sunscreen on Kenzie and squirted some into my hands to get ready for Hannah. "Hannah come and get some sunscreen."  She looked at me and stayed where she was.

"Hannah come and get some sunscreen right now, or you have to go inside."


My blood pressure was already high.  I was already super ticked that she had woken up Ellie, and now I had sunscreen all over my hands and she was going to make me get out of my chair in the shade and act on my threat in front of her friends.

Hannah ran around the yard, hiding behind the trampoline. I think if I was a bull I would have snorted and pawed the ground. I probably did snort. And I wiped the sunscreen on my hands on the grass so I could grab the little sucker.

"Hannah! If you don't get over here right now, you will be very sorry!!!!!"  I was yelling. The cousins cowered in terror. Hannah giggled and in a last ditch effort to avoid my charge jumped into the swim pool.

I waded into the pool, grabbed her by the arm and yelled some more. I managed to keep it a PG sort of yell.  "DANG IT ALL TO HECK! YOU ARE STAYING IN YOUR ROOM UNTIL YOUR FATHER COMES HOME! OR UNTIL YOU STOP DISOBEYING!"

I dragged her unceremoniously up to her room and heard Ellie screaming her guts out. Fantastic. I went back outside and calmed myself down before going back in to get Ellie. I checked on Hannah but she was pretending to sleep (soaking wet in her bed), so I ignored her and went back outside with Ellie.

Later, after my heart rate was restored to normal, I went back in to talk to Hannah. I felt pretty bad for yelling.  And for getting so angry. We made a deal with each other. I would practice not yelling if she would practice obeying.

So I'm going to try a little harder to be a little better. It was sunscreen. I could have handled that situation a lot better.