Jan 10, 2011

Voluntary Torture

Have you ever PAID to be tortured for 6 weeks in a row? Well folks, that is precisely what I did one week ago today when I set foot in our local YMCA.

Oh suuUUuure, the Young Men's Christian Association sounds like a fine place, and upon entering it looks like a harmless establishment as well. But sign up for a Waterbabies class, throw in one child named Ella and you've got yourself six weeks of H-E- double hockey sticks (There. I didn't say it this time!)

You see, Ella is a very intelligent child with some....how shall I say....ahem, intracacies. And gosh darn it, she can articulate VERY well! She likes the water on her own terms. She likes the lakes and ponds when she can wade in and out as SHE pleases.

Last week, I purposely got to the Y early so she'd have time to adjust to a new place and take it all in. We watched the lovely seniors arobicize to their hearts content through the viewing window. We weren't rushed as we changed. We got onto the pool deck early. We strapped on her foam floaties with ease. We watched all the other kiddos happily climb in. All seemed fine. She said she wanted to go in too. But I had a nagging feeling that this was just the calm before the storm. Boy was I right. THE INSTANT we entered the pool she started SCREAMING. I am NOT exagerating. She was, face red, tears flowing, snot shooting, mom-clawing clinging, SCREAMING! And it did not stop...for an ENTIRE half hour. (Yeah, it was kind of like that picture up there...only ONE MILLION TIMES WORSE.)

Half way through I looked at the instructor with pleading eyes and begged for her opinion. She assured me that this was totally normal, that she'd had children scream for the first three lessons straight, but that they eventually stop. "And what if they never stop screaming? Because you may have met your match in this one lady!" I wanted to say. But I didn't. I gritted my teeth, smiled and returned to the fun.

No amount of pool fun (including but not limited to, the hokey pokey, wheels on the bus, twinkle-twinkle, motor boat-motor boat, humpty dumpty, blast off, and a slide!), even for one split second, succeeded in taking her mind off of her sheer determination to exit that pool. Theres was flat out screaming non-words. There was screming, "NOOOOOOOOOOOOO!" There was screaming, "I GET OUT!!!!" There was screaming, "I GO HOME!" There was screaming, "I NO LIKE SWIMMING!" There was screaming, "I GO GET MY TOWEL, GO IN CAR, GO HOME!" But there was never, no not ever, an absense of screaming.

JOY, JOY and more JOY! I left emotionally and physically exhausted, wondering if I had just forever emotionally scarred my child, and feeling terrible for all the other mothers and babies in the class.

But Jason and I have decided, that she needs to be in the water, she needs to know how to swim and we need to be strong and can't back down. And by "we" we mean "me" because let's face it people, it's my butt that's taking her to the blue pit of torture every Monday, not Jason. My mother reassured me that when she took her little sister (my aunt Kirsten) to baby swim class for the first time she screamed and cried the whole way through too. But I'll have you know that Kirsten grew up to compete on swim teams, teach swim lessons, be a lifeguard and is now the director of all aquatics at a private center like the Y only better. So there is hope my friends. There is hope. And that hope I shall be clinging to as my child clings to me!

PS: Today was self-infliced torture session #2. I'm proud to say that the decibal level of her screaming went down slightly and she only screamed for a good 80% of the class. Yes, there were actually moments where she was not screaming. Did that have anything to do with the hot chocolate and fruit snack I had waiting in the car? Perhaps. And just for the record, I've decided I'm all about behavior modification in the form of positive reinforcement (that's super fancy social work language for "bribes").


Cheryl said...

Oh,you poor thing! And those poor other mothers and babies. :-) But I am so encouraged to hear that there were moments of non-screaming this week. YAY! Hang in there, kiddo, maybe next week it will only be 75% screaming. :-)

Amy said...

Yo. I bet the other moms loooooove you!