After one particularly difficult lesson where the teacher, who always stayed at the side of the pool , attempted to get Brodie to jump in by picking him up and dumping him in the water I knew we would have to find another way to learn to swim. I could see the terror in Brodie's face and I was convinced it wasn't merely defiance keeping him on the edge of the pool. I wiped his tear stained cheeks and resolved to find us a solution since the only option offered by the teacher was to use my strength and authority to force him to do something he found unpleasant again and again until he could tolerate it.
This made me feel hugely uncomfortable. There are many times when Brodie and Grier have to do what I ask them, and it's my job as their parent to help them understand that, but 'forced submersion' as it's called was not something I wanted to pursue. When I got home I googled for other swimming schemes and came across Kalie at Mighty Swimmers. I fired off some emails and while the kids were in the bath that night I received a reply from Kalie letting me know she had space and would we like to come along the next day for a trial.
I had no time to procrastinate so the next morning we had our first Mighty Swimmers session. We met Kalie who was as upbeat and motivated as her email had suggested. Brodie liked her from the start and I appreciated her supportive, encouraging and firm handling of the kids. She has big expectations of her swimmers and they respond by raising their game. After Brodie was out of the water we watched a trio of little girls swim with Kalie in the water - she stays in the water always which I'm sure is a massive factor in her success as she can observe and communicate much more closely than on the sidelines. The girls were exactly how I wanted Brodie to be, they were calm, confident and enjoying the water. I think I may have shed a tear on the drive home thinking about how long we had persevered in a situation which was upsetting us all and was having a negative effect on my relationship with Brodie. I felt so uplifted after that one lesson, I knew we had found the right place for our family.
That's not to say it's all been plain sailing (or swimming) only recently after an emotionally exhausting lesson I was so exasperated that I was considering ending our time with Mighty Swimmers as I just didn't feel I had the stamina to carry on. And I completely misjudged Kalie’s quiet determination to get Brodie to comply with a lack of understanding. She just expected Brodie would get it, that it would all click and the confidence would come. She saw in him what I've often seen in children who were on the verge of 'getting' reading. The seeds are all sown but they will only blossom in their own time and children will only move on when they are good and ready despite our best efforts.
A magical combination of readiness, goal setting and reward with a complete and all consuming thirst for knowledge of oceans and sea creatures have catapulted Brodie forward to where we always hoped he would be. He's loving the water. He's brave and strong and indeed mighty. Swimming brings the biggest smiles of the week and excited gasps as he relays lessons to family and friends.
Mighty Swimmers has been a fantastic experience for us all and I would would wholeheartedly recommend them. Grier is first to get her toes to the edge of the pool in her lesson, Brodie is itching to get in the water and now I can cross swimming off the list of things to worry about in the dead of night.