Lillian wasn’t thrilled about swim lessons. She spent the two days prior to the first lesson not-so-subtly lobbying for a stay in the sentence. It went something like this:
“I’m not going to swimming lessons.”
“Yes you are.”
“No. I. am. not.”
“Yes. you. are.”
“Well. I won’t put my face in the water.” Repeat. Repeat, again. And again.
Monday came. Coaxing got her there. Upon arrival, we discovered her teacher was my niece’s boyfriend, Billy. That got her to stay.
I watched through the fence. She laughed. She cried. She laughed again. She cried again. She climbed on him. She climbed out of the pool. True to her word, she did not put her face in the water. Day one. Down.
Later in the afternoon, while picking up her room, I mentioned that her blue bathing suit was clean, so she could wear it tomorrow.
“What’s tomorrow?” She inquired, with a suspicious head tilt.
“Swimming lessons.” I cautiously responded.
“What? I have to do that AGAIN?”
Apparently, I failed to mention that it was a two-week commitment.
“Yes. You do.”
She spent the entire day declaring that she was not going. She had gone. She was done. Time served. And that was that.
The next day, she was up and fully clothed at 6 a.m. I think in an effort to distract me from the lessons. At 9 o’clock, I started the cajoling. Which quickly moved to bribery. Hey. I’m not above it. There are certain things that require a little nudge. I wanted her to go willingly. And she needs to learn how to swim.
“We can stop at Johnny B’s and get a cookie.” I said. “One of those pretty flower cookies. Or a sunburst. What do you think?” The idea of one of those fancy frosted cookies was apparently just enticing enough to get the suit on and get her to van.
When we walked into the shop, she pointed to a tray of star cookies and said, “I want two stars.” Now, not to be manipulated by a four-year-old, I reminded her that I said she could have one cookie. Sticking to my guns. After all, I’m not a complete sucker.
She carefully examined the treasures behind the sparkling clean glass. Then pointed to her choice.
“I want the cookie shaped like a wine glass.” And there it was. A very large cookie in the shape of a martini glass. It was frosted to every edge in smooth and shiny lavender sugary goodness. Yikes. With the hopes of diverting her attention from the giant cookie, I showed her the flower cookies. The sunbursts. The graduation caps, even.
“No. You said I could have one cookie. That’s the cookie I want. The wine glass.”
The lady behind the counter looked at me, “Smart kid.” Mmm Hmm. Don’t I know. And stupid mommy. (I kept that part to myself.)
Needless to say, I got her the martini. She consumed the whole thing on the way to swim class. Between bites, she repeatedly reminded me that I needed to tell Billy that she wasn’t putting her face in the water. And that she wasn’t staying, unless I spoke with him.
We arrived. I spread out her Little Mermaid towel. Kissed her on the head and started to move toward the parental quarantine zone. She quickly grabbed a two-armed hold of my leg, stopping me in my tracks. She looked up at me with those sweet yet demanding blue eyes, smiled while she said behind slighted clenched teeth. “You are NOT going until you have that CONVERSATION with Billy.” And I knew she had me. Again.
I dragged her clinging body the two steps to Billy, told him that she wasn’t going to put her face in the water. He said okay. Then he smiled at her at told her that she was going to need to put her face in when she was ready to learn to swim. But he wouldn’t make her do it. And that was enough. I was released from the death grip. She happily went to lessons, and eventually the feeling returned to my left leg.
She ended up having a great lesson that day and willingly went the next morning. (Not without unsuccessfully trying to swindle a cookie out of me.) She enjoyed the remaining lessons, and eagerly went every day. And the thing about not getting her face wet seemed short-lived. After all, you can’t jump off a diving board without getting your face wet.
The lessons? If you’re afraid to get your face wet, it’s not so bad starting the day with an extra dry martini. That, and every single parenting technique you use will someday (much sooner than you think) be used on you.