I have 7 nephews and nieces. Â Usually when I get to spend time with them it’s all or none. Â This weekend, however, my middle niece had a “Big Girl’s Night” with Leslie, which allowed us to spend some one-on-one time with Mary Beth.
This morning, MB really wanted to go swimming and, to let Leslie have some time to do yoga, I volunteered to take her swimming by myself. Â Boy, did I learn a lot during that hour and a half in the pool.
I can do it myself.
I know this is probably late compared to most kids, but I learned to swim by myself the summer between 1st and 2nd grade. Â My niece has just finished K5 and is following closely in her uncle’s footsteps. Â This morning MB was convinced that if she didn’t learn to swim today sheÂ never would.
After finishing our cereal, dressing and getting sun screen on, we headed to the pool (it only took us half an hour to keep her focused enough to get dressed!). Â Of course, what’s the firstÂ dilemmaÂ you face when swimming? … Jumping in! Â When the air’s warm but the water isn’t, it takes an extra bit of will power to jump in. Â Now, try convincing a kid that it’s worth it and that you’ll catch her no matter what.
What do we call it when a child says “teach me,” but doesn’t want to learn?
I can swim without your help…but will you just keep me on top of the water?
Odd. Â I thought the nature of swimming kept us on top of the water. Â I guess I just misunderstood that – clearly my 6 year old niece knew better than me.
So there we were in the pool. Â I’m on my knees with arms straight out to support her and Mary Beth is laying on her stomach kicking and flailing her arms: swimming. Â Without fail, every time that MB said, “Let go, I can do it now,” she, in fact, could not. Â I watched her kick her little legs as they slowly fell to the bottom of the pool and she was ultimately forced to stand, not swim. Â I would very politely say, “Let’s practice our kicking then try again.” Â “I don’t need to practice, I can do it,” was always the response she gave.
Somehow, I convinced her to hang on to the side of the pool and kick for a few seconds before she informed me that she was ready to do it herself now. Â Unconvinced, I still let her try…and fail.
As we bobbed from the edge of the pool to the deep section (all 3.5 feet of it) MB wasÂ squirmingÂ and twisting and clinging to me – it was like she was afraid to not have me there for some reason. Â Then, magically, as soon as I stretched my arms out she would wiggle out there and start kicking and flailing her arms again. Â I’d patiently suggest she let me help her more and she’d say, “No, I can do it!”
It’s funny how I can see my own spiritual walk mirrored in my niece’s swim lessons. Â No matter how many times I’m told to “jump in and I’ll catch you,” I’m still scared to jump. Â How often do I tell God I’m ready to do it myself, only to sink? Â What about when I say, “this is the last time I can screw up,” and try to actually limit God’s willingness to teach and forgive me?
So, what do we call it when a child says “teach me,” but doesn’t want to learn? Â I don’t know. Â But maybe, when I figure out what to call it when a grown man acts the same way, I’ll let you know.