4 September 2013

My Most Perfect #Parenting Moment Ever.


We're quite lucky with our local leisure centre - they lay on all sorts of stuff for the kids throughout the holidays for just a couple of quid at a time because they're non-profit making.  Unheard of as this is, it doesn't mean we wouldn't take advantage of it, does it?

The boys have been learning to rollerskate / 'Blade' and, among other things, to play table tennis which might not sound too glamorous, but there are tables dotted all over Brighton for free playing on them and this will have saved no end of arguments over the rights and wrongs between us all, bringing about a great deal more joy than strife from now on!

But by far the best thing to come out of them thoroughly exhausting me this lovely break was something we did quite independently and is something on which my heart has been set for some years.

One of my greatest sources of shame as a single parent (and there aren't many!) has been not being able to teach the boys to swim properly, because coaching them individually has been out of the question with two such young children.

The eldest had lessons but they became an ordeal when he had an 'incident' and lost his confidence, which we tried to push through but eventually gave up on, because I was pregnant with littlest, had kicked my husband out and neither of us needed any more sources of stress. 

Further lessons have been sporadic in line with finances, but we have enjoyed plenty of play sessions in pools nevertheless with the baby / toddler / pre-schooler who is fearless to the point of dangerous.  It became imperative he also learned to swim because, unaware that it was entirely down to his special floatie swimsuit, he thought he could and acted accordingly, so I booked him half a dozen aid-free lessons.

The small pool has served us all well which is where we stay, so the eldest rarely gets to practise lots of complete lengths, which would undoubtedly stand him in better stead for his friends' pool parties now he's at that age, but it's great he's itching to do it, considering his fear's been so long lasting - and that's where we were recently when my most perfect #parenting moment ever occurred.

Littlest hurled himself into the water towards his brother, never bothered to come up for air and swam underwater a good few feet all the way to him!  Just like that.  Two lessons was all it had taken for him to figure out what he was doing.  

So thrilled were we all that he repeatedly did this for the rest of our time there that day - only ever to his brother - his true inspiration.  

I *might* have laughed and cried with joy.  We *might* have a long way to go until we're all able to swim a 
decent distance together.  The youngest learning to breathe so he can keep going *might* be useful before we try.  But we've had a breakthrough.

And the best bit of all?  The brotherly love and devotion the eldest demonstrated as he encouraged him over and over again, oblivious to how this might give him what he wants and deserves - for us to be able to properly swim together.  

He knows I went with my dad when I was young, which would give me the 'nice, funny feeling' he said he had in his tummy on the one occasion when we have managed it (by dragging a friend along without any of their own kids to care for!).

He doesn't know it was the only night of the week we might have seen our dad and that he was training with his scuba diving club really, that he would actually only do a few token lengths with me and my sister before abandoning us altogether to do a load more on our own and then, in case we didn't get the message, which we didn't because we were just children, he'd leave us in the back of his Landrover in the pub car park afterwards, together with his new wife's children and a bottle of lemonade and a packet of crisps each for the rest of the evening!

But it's why my swimming is good and I want my boys to be able to enjoy theirs and when you look at my patchy teaching methods - basically persistence and patience - and how handsomely they've paid off, there really is nothing to feel ashamed of.  Being a single parent sometimes means being doubly proud.    

Just look at this little beast in all his glory!   



48 comments:

  1. WONDERFUL - all in the sea next summer then?!

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  2. Definitely nothing to be ashamed of, I love swimming but unless I go on my own I rarely get one! That was a blast from the past, lemonade and crisps whilst the grown ups partied on!

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    1. Ah thank you. Yes- that's exactly how things used to be. Can you imagine anyone getting away with that nowadays?! xx

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  3. That is such a lovely post. Swimming is really important, I never learned and I am still awful now but it made me determined that mine would learn. We seem to pay a small fortune for them to go but it is a real investment as all mine love the water. It sounds like you had a very productive summer, well done you

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    1. Thank you. I agree it's important and it's such a shame that you're not a happy swimmer but it's never too late to learn. Good for you for giving your kids a love of the water though - I hope you can catch it some time. xx

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  4. Oh I feel like having a good long cry after reading this, especially as I have been swimming with you, albeit without the boys, I can still visualise it all too well, so well that this is an emotional and heartfelt post to read.

    Simply beautiful, like you!

    Liska x

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    1. Oh dear, but thank you. I know you will appreciate how much it means - and thank you for such a compliment. I remember that day we all went too xx

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  5. Lovely post. My dad played water polo well into his married and parenting years and I also remember being in the pool with him, longing for him to play with us. He did for a while (and was a fantastic dad I hasten to add) but he was always itching to plow up and down the lap lane on his own.

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    1. Thank you. I know what you mean about them itching to get on with their own thing - while we just want them! I've let my frustrations go for years so that mine didn't get that feeling :)

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  6. Oh my lord, I remember being left in pub car parks with a drink and a packet of crisps. Imagine doing that nowadays!! I didn't learn to swim really properly until I was 40 and decided to take lessons. It's now my favourite ever form of exercise - I just want my own pool (some hope!)

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    1. It's unimaginable nowadays isn't it? Everyone did it! Good for you for learning to swim - it's such a loss not to. Wd love my own pool too :)

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  7. Swimming is so important, a child can drown so quickly. I swam all the time when I was a child, raced for that matter, but sadly my parents never came to see me, let alone drive me. It's good to hear, that we correcting our parents mistakes.

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    1. You're so right - and get you - such a good swimmer! I think we always want to correct their mistakes, while, probably, making others of our own ;)

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  8. Well done! Swimming is such an important skill to have and you have done brilliantly to teach your boys!

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  9. Brilliant!

    I've actually just organised to take Ry to a swimming class next week with @ChelleMcCann & Fizz - exciting! I just love swimming!

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    1. Brilliant news too! I'll be quizzing you about where you're going in private x

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  10. That's excellent, well done for persisting with it., what a fab Mum you are !

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    1. What a lovely thing to say - thank you so much!

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  11. Ah I must teach mine to swim. My Dad taught me. My oldest is five now and scared of the water, a bit like me but they must learn. I am putting it on my to do list, you have inspired me!

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    1. It would be wonderful if you could teach them yourself - it's such fun really!

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  12. How times have changed. I don't think anyone would dare leave kids in the back of a car with a packet of crisps and pop for more than 10 seconds unless they want to attract the attention of social services! And what a lovely big brother - so supportive and encouraging to his brother, who I have no doubt is going to make a fine sportsman - he's got to channel all that energy somewhere! Learning to swim is one, if not THE most important skill a child can learn - hat's off to you! X.

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    1. Yes, times have changed - thank goodness! He was so lovely with his little brother - it was extraordinary and wonderful to witness - and the youngster, yes, looks like he'll be a strong swimmer tbh. Thank you :)

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  13. You mustn't feel bad or ashamed-you prioritised and reducing stress when it matters is more important than swimming. Kids are so adaptable. My eldest has glue ear so apart from a dabble in the water at 6 months until this summer (3 1/2)and he would accept ear plugs he wasn't allowed by the specialist to swim. He (excuse the pun) took to it like a duck in water-almost naturally finding he could swim (with help from me) and his armbands and I hope his confidence remains.

    Sorry to hear about the 'incident'...getting confidence back in water takes a long time. A teacher once pushed me into the deep end at 9 and remember it took a long time for me to venture near deep waters again (still prefer not to).

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    1. Thank you for such a lovely, understanding comment too. Sorry to see that about your eldest's glue ear, but glad to see it won't hold him back now. They love the water naturally and all any of us need is encouragement and support but these 'incidents' do leave their mark, as you say. Let's hope there's no stopping them (and you) now!

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  14. Wow, well done you. I'd be rubbish at teaching mine as I'm such a terrible swimmer myself. xx

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    2. Thank you. You could always learn too but you're brilliant at teaching yours lots of clever science stuff and we can't be good at everything!

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  15. whey hey! go go go! ronnie started lessons on saturday so bring on next summer and we can all race each other!

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    1. Oh go you too - well, go Ronnie! That would be wonderful wouldn't it?

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  16. Lemonade, you poor thing, I got those brown bottles of ginger beer and a pack of scampi fries.

    It is fantastic that the swimming is going well. You know we love love swimming. And after school I was able to take my big 2 in the big pool whilst youngest had his lesson. Your boy seems to have picked it up nice and quickly - and we will soon be meeting up to go to a waterpark :O)

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  17. Cor - lucky you! I was reading about your fabulous swimming adventures earlier. The littlest has been playing in pools since he was born and watching his brother and others and just picked it up naturally, I guess. He's an overconfident little thing though, so it looks like we timed it right. Meeting up at a water park is a stellar idea :)

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  18. Many childhood hours of mine were spent in the back of a car too. Excellent achievement in the pool x

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  19. Touching story Anya, great honesty

    All that about your dad. You've mentioned him before (unglowingly)
    (I know this is about your sons swimming)
    But, I think there are two sorts of people who've had difficult experiences when they were younger (and I'm not talking about learning to swim).
    Those that can never, let go of horrible experiences and their life is one long pity party (sadly I dated one recently)
    And those who stand up and be counted, I think you are the latter!!!!

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    1. In regards to my above comment.

      I was on a bus yesterday, and there was a banner on a wall at the side of the road, and it said,
      'It's not where you start in life it's where you finish'

      Some people who have struggles when they are young, move on to a different place. They lift themselves out of it, I suppose it's having the confidence and belief to do so.
      Some people who have struggles at the start of their life, end up still IN their struggles, they dwell on it so much it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, (the pity-party I mentioned)

      So take note of the banner at the side of the road, near The Point Theatre, Dublin, Ireland.

      'It's not where you start in life it's where you finish'

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    2. That's so kind thank you. It's not something I ever think about - I just get on with everything that needs doing and suppose I'm blessed with a cheerful disposition and a hopeful heart! I really appreciate you taking the trouble to comment so beautifully. Please leave your name because the email isn't displayed. So sorry to see that about the dating disaster - I was married to a permanent pity partier, so am glad you are using the past tense and got out. Best of luck next time. Do keep us informed :)

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    3. Maybe that's just it Anya, you have just got on with life, with your optimistic disposition.

      I suppose it's in your DNA, it is a blessed quality.


      e-mail missingfrance@yahoo.co.uk (Patrick)

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    4. You sound the same, Patrick, thank you :)!

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    5. Thanks Anya.

      E-mail anytime you want for a chat/sound-off/advice
      (delete applicable)!!

      Patrick

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  20. Ah well done - it is a sense of relief when they 'get' swimming isn't it? And yes, many a pub car park with a coke and a packet of crips for me in my youth!

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    1. It was just such a surprise and fantastic moment - will be more relieved when he's breathing though! Those were the days, eh?

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  21. Awww so nice when it suddenly clicks isn't it? Pickle had alot of confidence issues after she was 3 yrs old DESPITE having been a water baby from 5 months. The Monster, on the other hand, didn't start swimming until he was 2 years old and has been much more confident. Such an important skill, though. Worth pursueing.

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    1. It's funny how they're both so different, isn't it? Yes, it's crucial, especially when, like this, my youngest actually thought he could swim and would jump in anywhere willy nilly!

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