Just Keep Swimming

Parenting is frustrating. And sometimes it’s not even your kids’ fault! Sometimes, you’re your own worst enemy.

Detective Munch loves to swim. He’s had lessons almost every year since he was a baby, but he’s always been scared to dunk his head. Despite several summers spent at Grandma’s pool and on the beach, he still wouldn’t go under.

It bugged me. To a fault.

It wasn’t about my pride; I didn’t care that he was “behind” some of his friends, or behind some of my friends’ kids, who could be seen on Facebook jumping off docks and cannon-balling into swimming pools.

swimming, dad and buried, frustration, parenting, kids, summer, learning, development, pressure, mike julianelle

It bugged me because I know how fun it is to go under water, and how much he would love it, and I wanted him to experience that. Swimming isn’t really swimming if you’re not going under!

I tried not to pressure him, tried not to get annoyed when he would freak out at the possibility getting water in his eyes. It wasn’t easy; sometimes my impatience got the best of me. I just couldn’t wait for him to do it, and I couldn’t convince him to. I couldn’t get him past his fear.

I felt like I was blowing it. He knew how eager I am, and it seemed like his awareness of that was only making it worse.

Then, this summer, at Grandma’s, he said he was ready and that he was going to do it. I shrugged and tried to act nonchalant about it; I even let Mom and Buried take him into the pool instead of me.

As I feigned disinterest from the deck, he went under. And before I could give him well-deserved props, he went under again. And again. And again.

It was exactly what I’d been waiting for. He’d finally ripped the Band-Aid off and there was no turning back! Suddenly it was impossible to get him to stop, and even harder to get him out of the pool. (It actually got kind of annoying!)

I was more proud of him than he was. But I was disappointed in myself. Watching him finally overcome his fear, it seemed silly that I’d ever been frustrated to begin with. I was creating stress where there needn’t be any.

Every kid moves at their own pace, and while he missed out on a few years of underwater fun, he’s got plenty of time left. Forcing him to do it before he was ready might have soured him on swimming entirely. I was lucky I hadn’t!

swimming, dad and buried, frustration, parenting, kids, summer, learning, development, pressure, mike julianelle

Soon enough, nobody will even remember the days when gold-medal-winning Olympic diver Detective Munch wouldn’t dunk his head. And because I’d managed to (mostly) restrain myself, he won’t remember me as some psycho sports parent who forced him to do something he wasn’t ready to do.

But I’ll definitely remember the moment when he finally got out of the pool and I forced him to admit that Dad had been right all along.

This post originally ran on my Facebook page.

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