Posts Tagged ‘ swimming ’

Do You Believe In “Participation Awards” For Your Child?

Wednesday, March 6th, 2013

 

I got a lot of great insight from you guys in regards to my ballet class disaster (and a comment from Nancy who called the blog “absurd.” Ouch. I disagree, but she also made some good points so I won’t totally rant on her).

I’m happy to report that we went to the new class and it was oh-so-much better. Fia still didn’t want to let go of my hand, so in my ratty converse and yoga pants, I got to plie and spin with a bunch of little girls while their parents looked on–bored. We even brought Olivia the pig, since I told her it was an “Olivia approved class.” Yes, maybe I am taking this all a bit too far.

At the disaster class I wrote about how she stuck out like a sore thumb in her purple tutu. I said this time I was going to get her an outfit that was more in line with the others. She is wearing it above. It is adorable, and yes, more typical of a ballet outfit.

Nancy’s comment said: “Jill, you admitted to projecting your feelings on to your daughter. She feels bad because her outfit is a different color? She feels bad about herself when you leave? I do not think she felt any of that; she is too young for that much self-examination. And as soon as you get home you order her the perfect dance outfit? I have gone on enough. I guess you get my points.”

But then Julie made me feel a little better when she said: “There is nothing wrong with getting her daughter a new pretty outfit with a splash of originality. The reality is that from a VERY early age children who express originality are separated from the group and they CAN most certainly understand this is happening.” 

I think I agree with you both. Part of it is my projecting. But I don’t think it hurts for a semi-shy kid to initially fit in a little more while she finds her groove. Of course I had to laugh when we got to this new class. Half the girls were in pale pink. The other half? In aqua blue and bright orange tutu’s.  Maybe I just need to stick to my hip hood for classes since the disaster class was in a less hip area of the city.

About half way through Fia wanted to leave, but I told her we had to stay until the end. She continued to whine, but I just stayed the course.

“Fia, we don’t quit. We will leave when it’s over,” as I glanced at the clock, appalled to realize we still had 27 more minutes.

When it did finally end though, I praised her for staying through the whole class. For the next two days she talked about how much she loved it and how, “Mama, we stayed until the very end too!” I think I’ve decided if the class is good and the teacher doesn’t suck then we at least need to see it through to the end.

The great thing about this class is you don’t have to make a commitment. You can just drop in. So we’ll try it a few more times and if she isn’t into it, or too young, then we’ll stop.

But before I sign off, I want to pose another question that Julie brought up. She said:

“…While 3 is a bit young to worry about being a quitter for life, I do think it is absolutely right to question the decision to make sure you aren’t simply removing all challenges from your child’s life. Because even at 3 a child can learn that complaining means they don’t have to do something. (I also don’t believe kids should get participation “awards” but that is a totally different subject).”

But on that subject, I’m curious: After each swim lesson, Fia goes in the office and picks out a treat.  After gymnastics she gets stamps from the coach if she participated and listened well. This week we hit the bookstore first and I got her a coloring book. I told her she couldn’t draw until after she participated in swimming and gymnastics (they are back-to-back on Monday).

In gymnastics she initially didn’t want to jump. I had the coach tell her she had to if she wanted to use her new coloring book. She suddenly became the most active participant there. And in such good spirits to boot! She was waving at me from afar, giddy and laughing with the other kids, etc. So is what I’m doing considered a “participation award?” And if so, is that a bad thing?   I certainly don’t want a kid who only does things with an expectation at the end.

So continuing this debate on how far to push your child: What is too much?  Are things like stamps, stickers, treats and coloring books considered a reward? Bribery? At 3, how much does that matter?

I await your comments. Even Nancy’s. Just don’t call my questions–or this blog–absurd.

Fia and Olivia: Proud, post-class!

 

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How Spontaneous Are You With Your Kids?

Thursday, February 21st, 2013

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I always thought when you have kids, spontaneity goes out the window. In the beginning it kinda does. But during these early years–before real school gets in the way–I’m finding myself more spontaneous than during my pre-kid/marathon/climbing Kilimanjaro years. Take, for example, last week. We went to Hawaii. On a whim. No sh-t.

Phil got an unexpected window in his schedule last Friday–a whole, glorious week off between scripts. We looked at each other like, “Should we go for it?” I got online and began calling places to stay. With kids, we wanted a house. And I only wanted the Big Island.  It doesn’t rain there. Yes, I was picky and determined. Not an easy combo.

Every booking agent laughed.

“This short of notice? Villas book out 6 months in advance.”

After multiple calls I was about to concede defeat. Then a woman named Anne returned my call.

“I have a house that no one has rented before. The owners weren’t planning on renting it this week, but they are game.”

Done.

Then Phil and I took it a step further. We called his parents–Rev and Bev (Rev is a retired Episcopalian priest). They live in Wisconsin. We asked them to come too. It’s a place they’ve always wanted to see. And of course they always want to see the grandkids. They are almost 80-years old. Rev’s back is bad. It’s a 12-hour flight. And though retired, they still have plenty of things on their calendar. Meals-On-Wheels, Tuesday Club, Ash Wednesday, you know the drill.

Phil’s mom, at first, said No Way. His dad said Yes Way. Then apparently Rev said to Bev, “You just aren’t spontaneous.” Well that’s all it took. Spontaneity might not be her thing but stubborn is. And she isn’t about to let Rev “be right.”  She called us back. They were down. Woo hoo!

I called in a sitter and worked for 4 hours on securing a place, renting a car, and booking flights. Travel, planning, and cleaning are my forte. I should have been a cleaning lady-travel agent.

I began doing all the last-minute things you do before you go. Find someone to feed the cat. Throw in laundry. Put paper on hold. Pack. Pack more. Arrange for Cynthia Roelle to write some blog posts. (Thank you, Cindy!)

48-hours later we were on our way to 6 perfect days. We had a house with a pool and the beach in the distance.

This was last week. Now we are back and I’ve realized a few things:

  • When you book last-minute, you have no time to anticipate. Therefore, when your vacation is over, your letdown isn’t as great. I’m not writing this from a pit of post-vacation depression. Just a little blue. But also totally rejuvenated.
  • You become super-efficient in getting ready. And you accept that some things just have to be left undone.
  • It’s hit or miss, but sometimes you can get deals. Flights weren’t bad, we used miles for some, and since the villa wasn’t going to rent out anyway, we got it for slightly less.
  • You have no time to worry about the what-ifs. “What if Emmett gets a cold?”, “What if Fia won’t sleep?”, “What if my father-in-law snores so loud it keeps us all up?”
  • And if you have it, throw money at the problem. Case in point:

I found a company over there that rents everything for kids. It is an amazing idea.  For the week, I got two cribs with bumpers and blankets (taken to house and assembled before we arrived, taken apart when we left), a big tub of toys picked out specifically for Em and Fi, a highchair, beach toys, and a play yard. All for less than $300. I think that’s pretty good, considering.

Needless to say, we had an amazing time. We played in the pool every day…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We went to the beach a handful of times…

We saw whales. And waterfalls. Big and small.

We bought fresh fish from a local market and grilled. We watched Emmett walk…

…and Fia swim (yes, after I declared her swim lessons awash, she suddenly started to “get it.” And enjoy them. So we’re sticking with it for now). I sat outside one morning and read my book.  It was heaven.

Now we are back and I feel refreshed and rested. I’m so glad we seized the moment.  We did the same with our Death Valley adventure in December. So is it possible that kids make you more spontaneous? That they help you to live in the moment, embrace what’s present? I guess if you let them and let yourself. This was a big way to do it, but there are small, everyday ways, too:

Fia wants to take a different route to school so we can go past “the little blue car.” Okay, let’s do it…

We get stir-crazy, but it’s late in the day. We decide last-minute to run to the zoo. Even if we only have time to see the reptiles…

Stuff like this. Of course, if you have a husband who never knows when he can take vacation, you’re kinda forced to live impulsively on a larger scale. I am rarely bored.

I also really give Rev and Bev credit. It seems the older you are, the more stuck in your ways you become. They even took a red-eye home, landed, and went to church, then drove 3 hours home from Chicago. But I know it was worth every minute…

I feel like this way of living must keep me young. I also realize there is a difference in being flexible versus spontaneous. As parents we have to be flexible. You have plans but your kid gets sick. You cancel. But what if spontaneous could be attained by choice rather than necessity. It’s something to think about….

Consistency is good (especially with sleep/sleep training), but throwing it all to the wind isn’t a bad thing either.  It also keeps my spirit free and adventurous. I can tell it rubs off on my tots, too. For me, parenthood–and even life is general–is all about finding that balance.  I definitely think we did last week.

Until next time…Mahalo.

P.S. As a side note: I’d love to hear how spontaneous you are with your kids. Please share!

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Fia Hates Swim Lessons. Any Suggestions?

Thursday, January 24th, 2013

When we first moved to LA, loads of people suggested I put Fia in swim lessons. I was told everyone has pools and that we’d spend many a day in them. The idea of swimming lessons was both for her comfort in the water and my peace of mind. Not that she’d be in alone, but just knowing the basics of holding your breath, paddling, etc., would make the pool a more enjoyable–and safe—experience for us both.

Fast-forward a year and a half. I have been to exactly one, yes, ONE, pool date. However, I have invested 1400 minutes (5000 minutes if you count the time to the lessons and back) and gobs of money. And guess what? She still can’t swim. She can paddle about 3 strokes on her own with her face in the water. Certainly not enough to be considered “pool safe.”

Here’s the kicker: we both hate it. Every Monday morning as we make the trek to the Valley (we live in Los Feliz for those who know LA), she asks who her teacher will be (we’ve had to switch several times because she didn’t like some of them). Then she starts saying, “I don’t want to put my face in the water.” I try and convince her why water on her face is fun. I don’t mention that I, too, hate water on my face. Even raindrops. I cringe just thinking about it.

I also remember having swim lessons when I was about 8-years old. I remember all the kids jumping into the teacher’s arms and me standing there crying and afraid. I remember the teacher’s frustration with me as I simply refused. Granted, Fi is with an instructor one-on-one. And at this stage, there is no jumping into arms. I should mention it’s the Jim Herrick swim school. It’s a top-notch place and there is no part of me that thinks they aren’t doing the best job possible. There are also phases where Fia seems to enjoy it. So it’s not like I’ve dragged her kicking and screaming for 70 weeks. She does love the water when she’s with us (pictured above).

My question is: do I just cut my losses and consider it a “sunk cost” or do I forge ahead? The teachers keep saying she is really close to “getting it.” But I don’t want her to start hating it so much that the water becomes something fearful.

I was all ready to pull the plug until this past Monday. I took Emmett with me and we sat on the steps of the pool splashing around, getting soaked. He was loving it. We told Fia to show baby brother how to swim. She loves nothing better than being the boss and showing him how it’s done. Swimming was no exception.  It was the most excited I’ve seen her in the pool in a long time. She did amazing too. The instructor suggested I bring him every week. It interrupts his naptime but that is the other option I’m debating.

Do any of you have any experience with this issue or any suggestions for me on how to proceed? If I get in the pool with Fia myself, 1) I have to get on a bathing suit. 2) I have to get water on my face. 3) I have to get Emmett a babysitter. (God forbid, judging from the backlash I received on that issue last week).

If I give up now, has it all been for naught or will some of this experience stay with her until she’s older and we try again?

Suggestions? Thoughts?

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