"Do not go where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail."

Thursday, August 21, 2008

The Upside of Anger

Spencer was mad yesterday. Madder than I've seen him in awhile. As a parent, it's hard to see your kids upset in any way, and especially hard when their pressure is coming from within. He wasn't mad at me, wasn't mad at anyone other than himself. It was anger that came from frustration. He'd just completed his swimming lesson, probably his 8th one, and was unhappy with his progress. Spencer's approach to swimming, as it is with many things, is to cautiously put one toe in at a time. He had made huge strides in his comfort in the water, but yesterday he finally admitted to a great frustration over watching Paxton during his lesson. Quite the opposite of Spencer, Paxton has the tendency to - in this case quite literally - dive right in and hope for the best. Both non-swimmers at the beginning of the summer, Paxton is now swimming fairly competently, diving in and out, floating well, treading water, learning the backstroke. Spencer is great at holding his breath, and will try new things when there's a hand to hold.. but is only comfortable when both feet are planted firmly on the bottom of the pool.

I tried my hardest to empathize with him, to reassure him, to point out all the things he knows how to do well that were once difficult for him. But he was really in no mood to be consoled. What he needed was to be angry. And when he was done being angry, he got back in the pool (another advantage to having private lessons in my sister's pool) Pushing past the fear, he held his breath and put his face in again and again - and again - as he tried to swim to me as I sat on the step. Gradually he stepped further and further back, until his little glide forward needed a stroke of the arm, then two, then a kick. He was so determined to do it, he didn't even notice that his feet were finally up off the bottom.

It's new, and it's tentative. But he swims. Sometimes I don't think my heart can hold all the pride I feel for my kids.


Tuishimi said...

I am sorry I missed that! Sandi came in and told me after that he had swum to you, face in the water and all. Very big step!

Families are Forever said...

Way to go Spencer! I am so proud of him. It is hard work to learn to swim...you can even tell him that I don't know how, except that I can doggy paddle :)

yaya said...

Tell Spencer the story of his dad and the roller skating experience!
Some things need more practice than others. I don't know if Mike has ever learned to roller skate!

Sam said...

We struggle with this all of the time. Some things come easier to some people than to others. We are all different and we all have our strengths.
Sometimes you do have to get angry to move forward... to push yourself to that next step.. I am so proud of him.


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