Wednesday, June 17, 2009

To sweat or not to sweat that IS THE QUESTION!

I went running today, while little Margo was at swim practice. I ran an old track next door to the pool, with one of the other mom's. She is a bit younger than I, I am guessing in her mid 40's. We talked about our perspective as an older or should I say "mature" mommy. I think what we came up with is that we will often times not sweat the little things. Meaning if the swimming coaches want to change lanes on my daughter and she has a little difficulty with this, go for it. She needs to learn about changing environments. Ok, truth be told, my other friend who is in her early 30's told me little Margo had a bit of a meltdown the other day. Then my daughter engaged the coach in a discussion, or I was told a debate about the benefits of staying in her original swim lane, (which she is comfortable with). Eventually Margo calmed down, and agreed to swim in the new lane. My friend said she did stay out of the situation. Good for her! I make sure I stay out of those situations too.

Change is difficult for Margo to move with...Probably because it is difficult for her to move her body in a graceful fashion with control and balance. She goes to Occupational Therapy every week, to work on strength, and coordination. The current goal is getting her ready for play at Kindergarten. Margo is already reading, has a wonderful and wild imagination, is tagged as one who thinks outside the box (even if a box does not exist) and enjoys talking. However, playing duck duck goose, climbing a tree, or the ladder to her loft bed, jumping off the curb without fear is something she is only now enjoying in life. She only remembers the struggles at doing things we find easy and "natural", now she can do them, but she forgets that she can and surprises herself when she is successful at hopping on one foot. All of this to say, Margo controls her environment so her coordination weaknesses, and strength weaknesses do not show up. Thus the fear of swimming in another lane.

The breakdown in the pool occurred, when she was being told how to do the breast-stroke, but could not execute what was desired. She cried, then left the pool, ok, was told to take a break from the pool to refocus. No I did not intervene at the moment, I watched, and wondered how I could communicate some of Margo's needs to her coaches. For instance, verbal physical ques are very difficult for her to exercise for a new movement. This means the coach needs to move Margo's body in the form required for the stroke. Ah ha, so that is what I told the coaches. And they started doing drills outside of the water to help, and one of the coaches will move Margo's limbs in the position they need to go. She is doing much better with the verbal ques. Other times there will be a swimmer in with the 5 and 6 year olds to help them along. Now she has someone to watch.

Another time I heard a pitiful voice saying, "I am not doing this right, what did you want me to do?" when trying to do a one armed butterfly drill. She would start the exercise, realize something was not right, and ask again with despair in her voice, "what did you want me to do?" My heart broke with every word she uttered, but I did not intervene. Why, you might ask? Because she needs to learn perseverance, not quitting and trying again, when her body does not do what she is trying to tell it to do. I do not want her to live in a small safe world, where she is in control of everything and everyone, that is not a life.

In each of these situations, she is growing and doing better. Yes she crys, and tells the coach, "this is hard work", when asked to swim more laps, or do that butterfly drill again. However, she is doing it! She is becoming more adventurous at the play ground, she is becoming more adventurous with her friends. She is learning that she can, instead of "I can not".

Today in the pool, again it was a new lane, she did not cry, but she did take a long time before she started her laps. She was poised, ready to go, but waiting, even after the coach said to go. After more than a few moments, one of the coaches repeated what she needed her to do, said "Go", and Margo took off swimming. The coach walked the length of the pool giving her words of encouragement, and she swam. I left to go and run, knowing that they would work with Margo, and not let her life be "I can't". Yes she is only 5 years old, yes she is little, but she is learning her confidence through swimming.

As we were leaving the pool today, I was told by little Margo she does two sports, swimming and gymnastics. "I did not know gymnastics was a sport, but now I do, and I also swim". Tonight, she climbed up the stairs saying, "mommy it is snuggle time", so it was my turn to climb up into her bed, read a book together and end the day. "Mommy, I am a great swimmer!" Yes you are, little Margo, yes you are.


  1. Hi French Mommy -
    Loved this - thank you for your insight and wisdom. Margo has grown beautifully - she is blessed with 2 good parents!

  2. Hey frenchy, I was looking at your site and read about Sophies trying times with change. Well, I went throught the very same thing with my daughter when she was little. Before the "dreaded " kindergarten year I started taking her to the school and doing endless hours of talking. I put together a photo book of pictures in the classroom and out on the playground of Lauren in the new upcoming environment. We shared the book every night for two weeks prior the her sailing off into Kindergarten. It really helped and made the adjustment much more pleasant for everyone. This was just something I knew I had to do for her before any big change in her life.
    I love the pic's of (Little Margo)! She is beautiful and full of life. Continue the awesome path! Hope to see you soon! Love, Ginny