Things I Love Thursday: personal flotation devices

tilt.jpgThis blog carnival is called Things I Love Thursday. The rules are simple: “pick an actual thing that you love. Feel free to do a product review, but make sure to let your readers know that you have been supplied with the product to review so we are keepin’ it honest.” No one sent me a life jacket. I borrowed my brothers’. For more excellent things that we cannot live without, check out The And read about the blogger there that I spoke about in my post on Monday!

img_2742.jpgI have three kids. The ex swims like a fish, I float like a log. Tessa can swim lengths of a pool, Graydon refined his swimming skills at Camp Oochigeas and can swim out to the lighthouse and back (whatever that means, I’m not sure of the distance but he was bursting out of his skin when he first told us, so it must be a good distance). Luka refers to having a bath as “having a pool” and if that were up to him, that’d be the end of it. He hates swimming. With the aid of five noodles and a flotation device, he’ll play in a backyard pool. At a pool birthday party he once went up to his chest, realized where he was and freaked.

So this summer it was a goal of mine to get him “comfortable” in the water. Not swimming lengths, or diving for dimes. I have broached and cajoled the taking of classes, group or otherwise, and it ends in tears.

“I am not a fish! I don’t have to swim! I can walk!”

“I don’t trust the water! It’ll get in me!”

“Fish bite! Bloodsucking leeches are everywhere!”

So I murmur on, never insisting, never demanding, never “Because I said so!!!” because I want this little guy to slip into the water without fear of punishment. (He still remembers, or has a memory of some kind, of being thrown into a pool when he was 2, and he was, by a well-meaning nanny. That was not a good idea with this child.)

Today, I resorted to the personal flotation device as a way to get him in the water with me. I strapped one on him, and one on me. That way, I reasoned, I have nothing to worry about but him. He can grab my head or hair or both arms, and the jacket will keep us afloat.

After 20 minutes of chit-chat, me in the water, Luka chatting from the dock, I asked if he thought he might like to sit on the edge and come in. Ten more minutes of talk. He sits on the edge. Maybe 15 more minutes of discussing how fun the water is, how warm it is, how neat it is to dangle your legs in the water and relax, how the fish are not bothering me, how there is no seaweed, how nothing is sucking me down, I ask again, “want to come in?”

After an hour, my fingers now pruney, he says he’ll come in once. Once. He comes down, he turns around, and puts his arm around my neck. Now we can go in the water. For three seconds.

Three seconds in the water, his arm around my neck, he is shrieking: “Go back! Go back! Help! I’m done! It’s over! Help!!! I AM NOT COMFORTABLE!!!!!!!”

And guess what? Neither am I. In the calm afternoon I can see people in their little fishing boats looking over. Yes, I have been trying to drown my son, but heck, I think I’ll give up for today and try again tomorrow.

QUESTION for you: The summer is slipping away. I’m not above bribes – I’m all about bribes, actually – so any and all suggestions will be tried and tested, reported back and appreciated. I really want this little guy in the water and liking it!

See you tomorrow!

5 Responses

  1. ooh, tough one. My kids took to the water pretty well. Do you have any zero depth pools or splash pads in your area? That might get him used to it gradually.

  2. my niece grew up around the water (her babysitter has a pool) but at 4 years old she refuses to give up her floaties. you know the inflatable arm things? that way she can still kick and move around in the water, but she knows they’ll hold her up. we’re actually having trouble getting her to take them off!

  3. Hi Jackie, I remember one summer when we were young teens, I was visiting you for a while in the summer and the family either went to some lake or we stopped there on the way to somewhere else… but we all had swimming attire. I was ready to dive in and you said “I don’t swim” haha!! you just wouldn’t go in the water! I’ve never forgotten that.. I’m thinking that Luka comes by his reluctance honestly!!!

    On the other side of things, I think that a wading pool might be a good place to start. They’re usually somewhat warm by mid afternoon which makes them comfortable to be in and with enough fun toys or maybe a good friend along (and the fun toys), the fun happens without the kids noticing that they’re in water. This of course is the perfect theory… reality may differ!!!
    good luck! and please keep us posted!

  4. Luka is old enough to know if he wants to be in the water or not. But being a parent means you want to know he can find himself in the water & safe at the same time. In my opinion I would sit down with him (no where near the water) and have a calm, easy going conversation with him. Explain why you want him to “get comfortable” with going into the water. That lessons would be more for his safety around & near water. I would really express the need for him to have this safety knowledge and ability so that should there ever be a time when he wanted to or in case he must get in the water he could do so without fear. Also if he agreed to take lessons and completed them and he still has no desire to go into a pool or lake etc that will be the end of it. Rules may have to be determined for how he spends his time while poolside or on the beach while everyone else is in the water but basically if he doesn’t want to go in the water why should he?
    Just my opinion … wish you the best of everything as you try to help Luka adjust to the “water” people in his life. (because if the rest of the family weren’t into the water activities then chances are Luka would not be subjected to the pool/beach all that often).

  5. Hello,

    When my son was 3 or 4 yrs old, he too would not go into the water. I signed him up for swimming lessons, and had a friend take him. For some reason, (maybe because I too am not a “water duck”) without me being there, was easier for the instructors to eventually coach him in. They too started with sitting on the edge. He was always so excited to tell me how much farther he went into the pool that day! Now at 14, he is a great swimmer, loves it, and is considering life-guarding! I think kids can sense our fear, like animals.

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