Next Monday, Lyd starts swimming lessons. She took lessons for 4 weeks last summer, and absolutely loved it. She never progressed out of the beginner Pollywog stage, however, because she was not willing to put her head under the water. At the end of her 4 weeks of lessons, her teacher and I were pleased that we got her to blow bubbles in the water for about a second! (Interestingly, her teacher last year was a former student of mine from my pre-children middle school teaching days. Boy, did it make me feel old to be addressed as Ms. S again!)
So, next week we start swimming lessons, again at the Pollywog level. Lyd and I have been talking about putting her head under the water. I’ve used the same phrase with her that I used when I was encouraging her to do number two on the toilet: When you’re big enough, you’ll be able to do this. It worked well with the toilet training, as it put the impetus on her to make her own decision, which took the pressure off of me. I just had to be willing to change diapers for as long as it took, which I was. However, with swimming, Lyd has informed me a handful of times over the past few weeks that, yes, she IS big enough to put her head under the water, and she’s looking forward to swimming lessons. And this morning she took a big step, in my mind, towards being ready to dunk her head:
She asked if she could join me in my morning shower.
Now, typically, more mornings than not, she hangs out in the bathroom with me while I take my shower. She runs a little water in the sink and plays with her bath toys. We talk a little bit, she sings, it’s a very relaxed time. Once in a while she’s asked to peek into the shower, but she’s never actually wanted to take a shower with me, and I’ve never pressured her about it. She has seemed to be afraid of the idea that water would be falling on her face. However this morning, just as I was finishing rinsing the conditioner out of my hair, my unclothed daughter knocked on the shower door and asked if she could come in. I said, “Are you sure you want to?” Yes, she said. So, she came in and had her first shower. All the water splashing off our bodies and onto her face threw her a little bit at first, but I tried to teach her how to wipe the water out of her eyes with her hands instead of using my towel, and she seemed receptive to that. By the end of the shower, she even put her face in the water for a few seconds, which I consider a Major Accomplishment. I told her many times how proud I was of her, and how brave she was for doing this. I now have tangible hope that swimming lessons really will go well these next six weeks!
And, many times this morning, both in the shower, after the shower, and as we combed our hair and got dressed for the day, my darling, lovely daughter said, “Momma, I want to be just like you!”
Remember my post of three days ago? Yeah, she’s watching me. All the time.
(This experience also reminds me how strongly she will base her own body image on how I view my own body. I don’t want my daughter to ever think better or worse about herself just because her body is or is not a certain shape. That was something that happened to me growing up, and I don’t think it was for the best. So, when she pokes at the floppy skin on my jiggly tummy, or pats my ample rear end, or feels the weight of the milk in my mammary glands, I try to be as positive and encouraging as I can, and answer any questions that she brings up. I talk about how girls’ bodies mature, and some of the wonderful things our God-given bodies are made to do. I’m not doing actual sex-ed persay, but I truly hope I’m fostering a good sense of self-esteem as far as her body goes. I absolutely do not want her suckered into the mainstream “You have to be thin to be happy” mentality that’s so prevalent among girls (and women!) today. So, my daughter gets to see me in my birthday suit, with all my “flaws” laid bare. I hope that this will give her confidence and love for her own body, now and in the future, no matter what her body may look like.)