Competition, Failure and Lying to your Kids

The girls did their first session of swimming lessons this summer. At our community pool, every day for a half an hour for two weeks.

For the first three or four classes, Alena wailed the entire time. She hated getting splashed and she hated jumping in and she hated the stupid Fishy In the Middle song and the only thing she liked, so she said, was climbing up the ladder out of the pool.

By day four, she had come around, and by yesterday, she was jumping into her teachers arms in the deep end (with a life jacket on), putting her entire face in the water, blowing bubbles and singing songs.

She received her “report card” with a little sticker of a sea turtle, and hasn’t let go of it since. She’s been colouring on it and it’s starting to rip already. She carefully thought about where to place her well earned sea-turtle sticker, and lovingly placed it in her little note book this morning. She’s proud of herself, I’m so proud of her!

Leila was a higher level, where they learn to swim independently. at the start of the session, she would not put her face in the water, by yesterday, she was doing assisted front floats face-in and she even swam – like, actually truly swam, butt high in the air, face in the water, doggy paddling her way along. She bobs – submerging her head under the water completely – she swims all the way to the deep end in her life jacket. She *has* jumped in, but hates it – too scary.

Her level is called Swim Kids 1 and the check list is long. I know a lot of the kids in her class were on their second try. To go from bubble blowing and song singing to independent floats and 5m swims, that’s a lot to learn in one session! She didn’t pass because she didn’t master the independent floats or jumping in by herself. And… I didn’t tell her.

She has learned SO MUCH and conquered a lot of fears, I felt like telling her she wouldn’t be going to Swim Kids 2 next summer would negate all that she’s done. I’m proud of her and I want her to feel proud of herself, too. She did about half of the required list, and two weeks ago she was doing nothing on the list.

The thing is, passing the level was important to her. And the kids has a memory like an elephant, so it’s not like she’s going to forget what level she’s in, I just figure we’ll deal with it next summer. I texted Steve to give him the heads up last night before he got home, so he wouldn’t ask her if she passed. He is completely on the same page as me.

So… is this wrong? I guess we are lying to her, or at least leading her on. But Leila is very competitive, and I know she would feel bad about herself if she knew she didn’t pass. Like I said, I don’t want to take away from all that she has learned (and I am SO, SO proud of her) by telling her it wasn’t enough.

Life is fast and harsh and rough and I’m the mommy, so I get to make the choices about when to let her be exposed and when to wrap her in my arms and protect her. For now anyway.

One Comment on “Competition, Failure and Lying to your Kids

  1. I think your approach is right on. Letting her bask in her accomplishments now is exactly what she needs! You know your girl and there is no need to crush her spirit with this technicality right now. You’re not lying to her by not bringing it up. You’ll have to prepare for how you’ll respond if she thinks to directly ask the question, though. But, hopefully that won’t happen until next year. WTG for both girls on their progress! Swimming is one area I really, really want my kids to master their skills and it’s been a stop-and-start journey thus far….

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