My daughter has just started in a new swimming class which requires my mum to take her and me to go along as soon as possible after work to pick her up.
As I walked into the pool on the very first day, I was upset to see in the distance, my daughter running along the side of the pool to my mum (in the spectators’ area) for a hug. I rushed over as quickly as I could to find out what was the matter.
My daughter, who had claimed to be fed up with her old swimming class and the children who mess around and the teacher who has taught her for four years, had looked around her and realised she didn’t know anyone. And she had burst into tears. So she did what any little girl would do and had rushed over to Grandma who could make it all better.
Suddenly, my big girl who is one of the tallest in her class at school and who stands tall, proud and confident in the front of her dance class was reduced to a tiny little girl again.
The funny thing is, she’s so focused in what she does – swimming, dancing or school work – that she doesn’t really interact with those around her anyway. For a long time she was the only child from her school at her dance class and she didn’t mind. And she actively disliked the chatter and messing about of the other kids in her previous swimming class.
So why was she upset? I guess even if she didn’t talk to the others, she liked the familiarity of the same faces and especially the same teacher.
And suddenly everyone was bigger than her. My daughter is a good swimmer for her age. All the other children were taller – they looked around year 4 and she’s only year 2. (My boys were at this level just over a year ago, when they were in year 6 and year 3.) And of the 10 of them, eight were boys. Her swimming classes before had always been dominated by girls.
Things didn’t get better when she was in the water. Even though she swims well, she likes to be close to the side so she can grab it if she needs to (I don’t think she needs to, but it makes her feel confident). She was in the second lane – no side to grab.
Her swimming was so much better than the other kids’. Her front crawl is close to perfect while the other kids were all arms thrashing and heads turning all over the place. Yet half way through the lesson, the teacher hauled my tiny, tearful girl out of the water.
She’d got mixed up with her breathing and started to panic when she couldn’t grab the side. So she’d burst into tears. Thank goodness she’s got such a good teacher who noticed. Because not all of the swimming teachers are that good.
We had more tears in the changing room as she struggled with all the changes – the teacher, the kids, the lanes, the time of the lesson, even having me there instead of Grandma. Everything was different.
My tiny girl is going to need time to find her confidence again. But I’m sure that, give her a few weeks and my big, confident girl will be back.