Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Punch That Clown

As a parent, I have learned to give a countdown to an event, so that when that event is actually upon us, it does not come as a shock to little systems. For example, when a play date is just about over, I will let the kids know they have “Ten more minutes!” “Five more minutes!” “Three more minutes!” “One more minute!” “It’s time to go!”

Depending on how much fun they are having or how close to bedtime it is, some days that 10 minutes can stretch to a half hour or more; other days that 10 minutes will last only five. Oh help me when they actually start telling time. This generally works for Braedyn and Emily because they know the impending doom that lay ahead – bed time, quiet time, end of a play date, etc. They may still procrastinate (the apple didn’t fall far from the tree), but they generally aren’t all freaked out and tantruming because they didn’t see it coming.

Last night this countdown backfired on me. After Braedyn crawled into bed for the night, I leaned down and kissed him. I got all overly-animated and smiley and mentioned that he was going to have his first swim lesson in the morning. I thought he’d be excited. Um, I thought wrong. I didn’t just get a piercing look of shock and horror. Oh, no. His little eyes started to swell with tears. I knew he was trepidatious around water, but we had visited the swim school and thought he’d be charged about going. Yeah, not so much. But I managed to save it by pulling my foot out of my mouth and promising that he’d get to pick a prize out of the swim school's prize bucket after the class was over. This little factoid seemed to put his mind at ease.

He seemed a little more assured this morning, and he actually was excited about getting to wear his Spiderman swim trunks. We got to the swim school and had to buy him some goggles. I knew he needed some and the 99 cent pair I brought with us had broken for the twentieth bazillion time, so I coughed up the 12 bucks for a pair of theirs. Ouch! This made him happy though. He got to pick out the color (blue), and he seemed chipper.

Silver Bear Swim School runs a tight ship and is very organized with the comings and goings of the kids and parents before and after a class. Braedyn went with the instructor to his section of the pool, while Granny, Emily, and I sat in the waiting area and watched his lesson through the glass. He was the only one with this particular instructor today. I doubt we’ll be that lucky each week, but it was sure a treat for his first lesson. I was completely impressed with the way she handled him. There were some tears shed. Sure. There were some pleading arms reaching out for me a couple of times. Sure. But by the end of that half hour, the miracle-worker instructor had him at arms length moving him through the pool and up to a platform where he got to punch a blow-up clown. For a boy who is always being told not to hit, that was a big treat. Braedyn was even laughing and splashing her by the end of their short time together.

So, we had a big day. He had his first swim lesson. He got to pick out new (cough) $12 goggles. But what were his first words to Greg when we called him to talk about the lesson? “Daddy, I got a prize from the bucket!” And what was that prize that he picked? A tiger tattoo. An itsy-bitsy tiger tattoo. I must remember this at Christmas.

I screwed up the countdown routine with Emily today too. I should have been counting down to the end of Braedyn’s lesson because when it was over, she was very upset. Because she wanted to watch Braedyn some more? Oh, hell no. Through tears she pleaded, “I want to run on the water. Like Scooby-Doo.” I told her she had about a year to go before she did swim lessons. This countdown didn’t make her happy either. Countdown be damned! I obviously need to work on this skill which takes precise timing and delivery.


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