Today, we took B over to the indoor pool at our apartment complex cabana. She’s never been swimming before. We meant to take her while we were down in Florida when she was ten months old, but the timing was never right – every time we wanted to go, there was lightning, or she was tired, or we were hungry. So it just never happened.
I was excited to take her. I love going to the pool, and would go a lot more often if I had the time (and didn’t feel so self conscious about my post-baby body, but that’s a blog for another day). I got her all ready in her cute little swimsuit, and I got myself ready. My husband wasn’t feeling up to swimming today, but he tagged along to see B experience the pool for the first time, which also gave me a handy cameraman. 🙂
We started out sitting on the steps in the pool, and she was smiling and having a pretty good time. But I wanted to take her out into the pool and see if I could get her to float on her back, so off of the steps we went. She turned into a little octopus. She was clinging fiercely to me, and wouldn’t let go. I kept trying to pry her off of me, and she kept clinging tightly to me. So we twirled around in the water a bit, and I bounced up and down so that the water splashed up around us a bit. She smiled, but still wouldn’t let go.
She wrapped her arms around my shoulders and buried her face in my neck and refused to look at the water anymore. I was disappointed. I took her back over to the steps, and set her down on the topmost one so that I could fix my ponytail. Her face lit up and she started splashing in the water and giggling and laughing. She started babbling away and pointing at the water and the little tile design on the steps and yelling at daddy so that he would talk to her.
It made me realize that I had been trying to force my idea of a good time on her, instead of letting her play the way she wanted to. I wasn’t being malicious about it, but that’s exactly what I was doing. I’m not the first parent to do it, and I won’t be the last. I should have just let her go at her own pace. Maybe a year from now or two years from now or five years from now she’ll be splashing with me in the deep end or letting me tow her on her back across the pool. Or maybe she’ll always like sitting on the steps. Either way, I’ll let her choose how she wants to enjoy the pool. Or anything. Because trying to force your child to enjoy something usually ends up having the opposite effect, and then it turns into a miserable experience for everyone. At least I had this experience now, so I can remember it and not repeat this mistake later on.
Something else positive came out of today. We had tried moving B from her toddler tub to a regular bathtub a few times over the past couple of months, and she just wasn’t having it. But when we got home from the pool, and daddy gave B a bath, the pink toddler tub went into the closet, because she was all sorts of excited to splash around in the regular bathtub. Good times, good times. My baby girl is growing up.