Tuesday, June 16, 2009

On Throwing Reluctant Children into Pools

Bad news. I saw it happen yesterday. It happened on my LEAP watch, embarrassingly enough. But things aren't always as they seem. Seeing my co-worker gently set a very defiant, fully-clothed five year-old into the swimming pool yesterday was horrifying. After having dedicated hours to coaxing this young one to the edge of his greatest fear, it was a blow to my efforts and, what I initially perceived to be, the terminus of that child's swimming career. Again, things are not always what they seem. After a chat with my co-worker about her actions, the reality of the drastic measure became clear - the boy, who had been to swimming lessons days prior, had been fired up about the lesson that morning, but upon seeing the edge of the water and realizing the enormity of the commitment that he had made, he freaked. My co-worker, having worked with young kids and with children's psychology for decades knew what she was doing. Whether or not throwing the fully clothed kid in the pool was right, it is impossible to say. Doubtless, my heart is much too soft to carry out such a harsh course of action; my persuasion/effectiveness with young ones comes through soft-spoken, sincere dialogue, not force. Well, it all turned out wonderful of course. The young lad, once in the water, enjoyed his lesson (and the water) thoroughly and today, made great progress on his way to becoming a swimmer. One thing is for sure, this pre-K kid prefers the easy way (me), to the hard way (my co-worker). It takes very little convincing on my part (now) to get him through the locker room and to the pool; a couple of soft words and a smile and he is poolside, at attention.

The moral? Don't throw kids into pools unless you have a kind-hearted cohort to whom you can thence refer the child to for soft-spoken persuasion. Otherwise? The child lives in fear of over 2/3s of the Earth's surface, forever.

1 comment:

Deane Christianson said...

I was once a young child that was pushed into the lake off the dock by a swimming instructor. I was in swim trunks, but shocked none-the-less. And now I am scarred for life... fearful of water. I had many swimming lessons since - private, group, high school... but I still vividly remember being shoved head first into a lake, and pulled back up by my legs to safety... and saved from drowning! I will forever be a reluctant child... when it comes to water!