Swimming argument

My daughter is a pretty good swimmer. She’s not going to be in the Olympics, she wouldn’t be considered gifted and talented, but she’s pretty good for her age.

She’s on the final stage of swimming lessons (of course she could go on to badges and competitive swimming etc, but that’s not the plan). She’s done two terms and we hoped she’d pass this time. This is something her brothers never did. They did two terms at this stage and they failed and I just wasn’t prepared to throw any more money down the drain pay for any more lessons. They were right at the end of year 6 and year 3 respectively when we gave up the swimming lessons.

On top of her usual lessons, my daughter had been swimming with school for a term and had done very well. The other day she swam THIRTY TWO LENGTHS of a 33metre pool. If my maths is right, that’s nearly three quarters of a mile – just under 1200 metres. Pretty good for an 8 year old! So we kind of assumed she’d pass this term. No more swimming lessons and we would get our Saturday mornings back.

But she didn’t pass.

The teacher had obviously thought long and hard about it. She filled in her sheet during the lesson, while all the other kids’ were already filled in – pass or fail. She’d spoken to the other teacher and taken into account the whole 32 lengths thing. But she’d decided that her breaststroke just wasn’t good enough.


I’d like to say my daughter took this well.

But she didn’t.

It’s great having high achieving children and I will never say that it isn’t. But the only downside is that they have very high expectations of themselves and they don’t take failure well.

I tried to tell her she couldn’t always win everything, couldn’t always be the best. But in her mind she can and she will.

For the first time ever, she turned on me.

Nothing I said could appease her. It was just making it worse.

‘But you’re a good swimmer.’

‘Well I’m not, am I? So and so went up and he’s not as good as me… ‘

And on and on she went.

I pointed out that it wasn’t my fault. And it wasn’t hers either. She just needs to work a bit more on her breaststroke, just like she worked on her front crawl a while back. But she wouldn’t let up. Everything was negative. Everything was turned round and thrown back at me.

All she wants is to beat the boys. They failed after two terms and so had she.

She’s a better swimmer than them and I told her so. That wasn’t good enough.

I know she could beat her eldest brother in a race, despite the five year age gap and I told her so.

‘Well, when we race, he just drags me back and stops me from winning.’

There was no point. The argument went on from the changing room and all the way on the drive home. I didn’t want to argue with her and tried to stop it, but she couldn’t stop throwing stuff at me.

So I sent her away to calm down. I left her on her own for 45 minutes.

When I saw her again, she was back to normal. She’d read her book and done her hair (she does her hair constantly) and all was well with the world again.

Now I wonder if this is the start of tween behaviour – our very first argument (which I suppose is quite an achievement to go eight years without one.) At what age do girls usually start arguing with their parents?

If you enjoyed this post, and my other posts, I would be very grateful if you could consider nominating me for this years Brilliance in Blogging awards (BiBs). You can nominate right here http://www.britmums.com/awards/  (I think I might fit rather well into the ‘family’ category).


Author: Sarah Mummy

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  1. I think it’s hard at that age as you’re full of hurt about something but not able to vent it out right and mums are the easiest target. I know because I was like this (although I was a pants swimmer!). I hope she’s ok now though x

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  2. My son used to get so upset when he had a setback, but it is part of learning. Sad that as parents we get to bear the brunt of their frustration.

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  3. Oh bless her. I have no real experience of tweens but it does sound like it is fast approaching and it IS all a part of learning. x

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  4. I imagine that this will be the first of MANY Sarah – get used to it! Bless her heart, I remember this swimming stage being so hard for all of mine too. None of them passed and it was all due to the breast stroke as well. If she is determined than maybe let her finish but why not persuade her that she can go recreational swimming with her brothers and prove that she’s better than them!

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  5. So hard. It amazes me what they’re expected to do to pass. I don’t remember ever being taught proper strokes in all the years we swam at school. We just swam the lengths (ok for bronze award we had to do 3 strokes), but it seems insane to fail someone on the basis of one stroke when the rest is so strong.

    It’s great that she’s a high achiever though – hopefully over time, she’ll relax a bit about the perfectionist bit (I know that feeling well), or focus on she can improve rather than comparing – definitely hard in a competitive sport.

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  6. It must be very hard at that age to deal with any kind of failure (even though it’s not really failing, but i’m sure it’s how she sees it) x You’re a fab mum I’ve no doubt she’ll find her own way of dealing these things with yourvsupport x massive congrats on the MADs shortlist too! I’ll see you there xxx

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  7. Swimming lessons are a massive con – you know my views! If I child can swim and swim the amount of lengths your daughter does why does she need anymore lessons? Swimming lessons should be regulated. Re temper tantrum – zero tolerance and these things happen – If my daughter goes into victim mode I tell her to get a grip and just agree which annoys her more but then normally pipes down x

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  8. You did the right thing by telling your daughter you cant win at everything and as we know its horrid when things don’t go our way, but its life and I tell my boys the same thing x I’m sure in time it will turn her into a strong young lady, especially with the loving support from a mother like yourself. xxx

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  9. Thanks very much, everyone!
    I didn’t ever have to do lots of strokes either, Emma! I couldn’t even do front crawl, I could only do breaststroke, ironically!
    Ha ha, I totally know your views, Natasha. Strangely it wasn’t a temper tantrum. It was just endless answering me back, which she don’s usually do.
    She does totally see it as failure, Wally Mummy. And congratulations to you too! Look forward to seeing you again 🙂 x

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  10. Oh this sounds so hard. My daughter is 4, so I have this to come. Letting her cool off is exactly what I’d do, I think, and yes, a first argument after 8 years sounds really good to me!

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  11. It wasn’t much fun! But I think eight years without an argument is pretty good.

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