I’m the mother of three fish. I guess it was inevitable―both their parents are amphibious, and when life’s unfolding to its great unplan, we are at swimming pools, lakes or rivers one to three times a week. By six and four, Flora and Cinder were more than competent swimmers: they were astounding. Self-taught, the result of hours and hours and hours of time in water. Ender’s probably going to be fully amphibious even sooner. (Today, at age 3.5, he swam the length of a pool, half of it underwater.)
So why is it that when I’m in the water with them, I often encounter these two reactions?
1. “You should sign them up for swimming lessons.”
This scenario goes like this. We’re at the swimming pool. Cinder dives, swims under water, does flips, hand-stands–he’s amazing. Flora’s doing laps, her tiny little self breast-stroking her heart and lungs out across the massive pool. Back and forth, back and forth. And the relative/friend/lifeguard/random stranger beside me, after ooh-ing and aah-ing at how competent they are in the water and how skilled and how much fun they have at the pool, says this:
“You know, you really should sign them up for some formal lessons. They’d really benefit from that…”
2. “Maybe if you work hard at your swimming lessons, you’ll swim as well as he does.”
This one happens even more often. We’re at the pool. Ender is jumping into the deep end; Cinder is diving; Flora is backstroking. They play. They find a friend or two to play with. They impress and terrify the heck out of some other parent. Who asks me, “Gosh, they’re so good in the water, you must have had them in lessons since they were in diapers.” And I say, “No, no swimming lessons, ever, they’re just self-taught. We just come to the pool a lot.”
And the parent turns to her child and says,
“See, if you work really hard at your swimming lessons, one day you’ll swim as well as this boy does.”
What? Where did that come from? Now, I’m not against formal swim lessons in any way; I expect at some point one or the other will want to take them. Maybe a diving class, or a class in which they get to refine the techniques of their strokes. Or not. But the point is:
They swim like fish because they get to go swimming a lot. Because they love swimming. And because they’re parents (and grandparents) love swimming.
“You should sign them up for swimming lessons”? Why?