I liked asking him if he had fun because his face would quickly morph to a stern pout as he quickly replied with a single, "no." It was actually really adorable annnd I really just like messing with my kids.
At about halfway through the second session I asked the instructor if she thought it would help if I went into the lobby, where I would still be able to see him but wouldn't be just a few feet away having to reassure him over his extremely loud and pitiful pleads of, "mommy! mommmmy, mommmy!!" to get him the hell out of the water.
I walked away and watched from the window separating me from him and listened to the howls of his screaming from about 50 feet away as I realized this was just the first of many in which I would have to step aside, out of arms reach, in order to do what's best for him.
He's only three years old but as he grows into a child, a teenager, and a (ahem) man (whaatt?!), I know I'm going to have to step aside more and more. It's an unfortunate effect of motherhood because it goes against the grain of our love for them. There's such a large part of me that wants to pick that little boy of mine up into my arms and say, "it's okay, fuck this water," but I know I can't.
The fact is children grow up to be adults, no matter how hard we try to slow down the process, and the overall goal should be to raise them to be independent, responsible, compassionate, and critically-thinking adults that "do good" in this world.
Thus, swimming lessons wasn't just about swimming lessons that day. Yes, I'd love for him (and my other children) to be excellent swimmers (because it's a skill that could save their lives one day) but if Tristen decides, as an adult, to never step foot in a pool or any body of water, for that matter, I could care less.
But from now until the end of his life, I hope he learns and realizes even if something is beyond terrifying and painfully hard that he's going to be okay. I hope he builds his confidence so high that nothing can shatter it.
The screaming and absolute disdain for water continued until about the third session when he finally relaxed. I think he finally realized he's probably going to live past the age of three. These days when I ask him if had fun after his swimming lessons, his little face brightens as he smiles a sweet little, "yes."
Along with building his confidence and knowledge that no matter what, he's going to be just fine, I, also, want him to know that no matter how far away I am I will always be thinking about him, hoping for the best, and forever loving that sweet, little boy of mine.