Last week we had a disastrous swimming session, so this week we were keen to get back to normal. I'd thought a lot about last week and had a plan.
The first few swimming lessons had gone so well, and were becoming the highlight of our week. When problems arose at the last couple of sessions we were unsure what to do. I wasn't sure if we should battle through, or back off. My instinct was to try and make things as much fun as possible, and to back off if Amélie was looking distressed.
As soon as we got into the water we were asked to do 3 rounds of 'name .. ready .. go'. This is where you say your child's name, then ready, then go, then a slight pause before dumping a cupped hand full of water over their heads and faces. The last couple of lessons this has caused Amélie to get upset and I've just tried to carry on regardless.
This session I just didn't do them, I didn't want to start the lesson on a bad note. Then we were told to get into swim position. I could feel Amélie's heart beat speed up as soon as we got into position, and her face started to twist ready to cry so I immediately stopped and sat that out also. Then is was 3 more rounds of 'name .. ready .. go' which again I sat out.
So far we had avoided any crying but we hadn't done much, I was disappointed to hear the next move was a stationary underwater swim. This is where you let go and touch the sides of the pool before you pick them up from under the water. I decided we would go ahead with it, but was expecting fireworks. She was underwater for a few seconds and looked unhappy and ready to cry when she came up. Before she had a chance to cry I was saying 'well done!' and tried to distract her by nibbling her ear (which she likes). It seemed to prevent a cry, and within seconds she was looking pretty bored and yawned.
We did swim position a few more times, and each time I could hear her heart speed up. I tried to distract her as much as possible, and when I felt it was getting too much I stopped before she cried. Eventually she was much happier with it.
Then we did holding onto the side of the pool. For the first time we had to do this all on our own. It was very easy, and Amélie did it quite well, although when I let go she isn't yet able to keep holding on.
Then there was the moving underwater swim, she seemed to know exactly what was going to happen and was looking a bit distressed. I mentioned this to the instructor who agreed we should skip it for now like we did last week.
None of the other babies were at all unhappy last week or this week, it just seems to be us. The instructor told me that sometimes they go through these little phases. She also said that she might be understanding the 'name .. ready .. go' command now and associating that with something unpleasant. Or she may just find the swim position uncomfortable.
My personal feeling as her Father is that she is a bit bored. She behaves in a similar way at home when she is bored, and if you persist in doing a task with her that she is bored with she behaves in the same way (curled lip, then crying, then screaming). I also think that perhaps one or two times when she has been underwater or had water poured over her head that she has got some in her nose or something. I know when I get water up my nose when I'm swimming it hurts like hell, this has most likely happened in swim position and perhaps she has started to associate the two together.
Next the instructor took the babies one by one for a swim, she then puts them underwater and you catch them underwater and pick them up. I turned Amélie around so she could see all the other babies doing it, when it was her turn I could see her under the water, eyes wide open looking up at me. She seemed quite happy and I was very pleased.
We did some Humpty Dumpties and a few other things, she looked pretty bored but wasn't upset or anything. Lastly it was back stroke, first of all where you cradle their heads with both hands, walking backwards. You have to sing 'on our backs we lie nice and flat, nice and flat, nice and flat' to the tune of 'here we go around the mulberry bush'. Amélie was fighting against me and looked ready to cry, I persisted and it never turned into a cry and eventually she lay there nice and happy while I ground out the nursery rhyme. Then it was the other back stroke where you are walking forward, baby moving backward, held by one hand under head and neck while your other hand is held above them in a twinkling action while you sing 'twinkle twinkle little star'. Very humiliating for me, but Amélie was perfectly happy.
When I handed Amélie back to Clare after the lesson she was giggling like crazy. It was the best we could have expected really, no crying all lesson, and laughing at the end. I want to take her to the local pool on Friday and build on the progress if possible. So far my plan seems to have worked, if I'm 99.9% sure she is going to get upset I avoid doing a move, if I'm 90% sure she will cry I persist and try and distract her.
Next week is our 10th lesson and we have been told to bring goggles as we will be going underwater with our babies. This sounds very exciting, I just hope she is going to be comfortable with it again by then.