I have always, as I am sure all of you have, had students whose behaviour ranged from Practically Perfect in Every Way to Why Can’t You Follow Just One Rule Consistently. I have tried to understand both of those children, and all the ones in-between and meet all the accompanying needs. I have even spent time trying to put myself in the parent’s shoes, wondering how the parents of the well behaved students feel about The Other Kid, and vice versa. This summer I have realized that I am that parent now. Specifically, I am the parent of both of those children.
Both of my children have finally been signed up for swimming lessons. Many things delayed this happening, but the main obstacle in our way was timing. At the YMCA, independent lessons start at 3 years old. I could never take both children at the same time simply because there weren’t openings in a class for an under 3 and an over 3 that could fit into our schedule. No matter, really. Both of my children are comfortable in the water, and we swim often so they have learned a lot of the skills that show up in swimming lessons.
During our first lesson, my daughter, age 4.5, immediately began to shine as the top student. Seriously. During the first lesson they determined she should move up a group. She was fully compliant, and fully able, and still had a great time and used all her kind words. Alas, no spots were available in the next level group, so she has stayed. My son, on the other hand, placed in the same group for reasons unknown, was running away from the teacher, refusing to jump when he was meant to jump and jumping when he was meant to sit. He wouldn’t lay on his tummy to flutter kick, or blow bubbles in the water. The second lesson was even worse. I kept telling myself not to worry. I kept ordering him to return to the group instead of sitting on my lap like he wanted to. I kept noticing how the discipline of my son was keeping my daughter (and their one classmate) from having a good swimming lesson. Luckily the other mom was very absorbed in her phone and didn’t seem to notice. Or maybe she just understands that this is how it is sometimes.
We’ve had a few times like this over the summer. Daughter is so well behaved at the library, at the store, at playgroup. Son runs around like a maniac, pulling books and grocery items from the shelf at top speed and playing instead of participating in Closing Circle. It’s an age thing. It’s a boy thing. Daughter was well behaved much earlier on than her brother. But I keep reminding myself how important it is that he is allowed to participate in all of these activities so he will learn how to do it – how to have some self-control even when there are trains in the room.
Now I don’t have to imagine how both of those moms feel because I am both of those moms. We had our 3rd lesson on Thursday. Both kids did really well. My son stayed with the group, only cannonballed into the pool at the wrong time once, and kicked up a storm exactly when he was asked. Last week we also successfully navigated the ice cream shop, and only came home with one $10 pepperoni I hadn’t intended to buy when we visited the grocery store. Neither of us cried at any of those places. And I can already look back and laugh at myself sprinting down the aisle of the grocery store trying to catch him. Almost.
Yes, that is why we had to get a new dishwasher.