swimming lessons

Musings while waiting at the pool

Five of my boys started swimming lessons last week.  Yes, five.

Their lessons were staggered throughout the afternoon, and I sat next to the pool for several hours and watched each one have his first lesson.  One of the swimming teachers looked over at me at some point and said, “You’re spending your whole day here!”

Despite what might have looked like inconvenience to others, I really enjoyed being there. I felt nostalgic.

It’s been about 17 years since our oldest three children took swimming lessons.  That was followed by years of many other activities and lessons, with me sitting at the sidelines watching and usually supervising younger siblings at the same time.

There were years of going shopping and to the dentist and everywhere else with all of the kids in tow.  Many years.  I didn’t get out alone too often, but while there were times that I longed for more ‘me’ time, lots of togetherness was the reality of our lives.  It was necessary and appropriate and something I really enjoyed.

Time moves on.  The children referred to for so long on this blog as ‘the littles’ are now almost 8, 9.5 and 11.  They’re old enough and independent enough that they don’t need me to set up play dates .  Ds9 and ds11 both can get to their extracurricular activities without me accompanying them; ds7 can go to his friends’ homes without me walking him there hand in hand.

As I sat by the pool, I felt wistful for those days of going everywhere with the kids.  Yes, I very much appreciate that it’s now possible for me to take naps and go places on my own without too much wrangling of my schedule.  I appreciate that Israel has safe public transportation and that has created opportunities for independence that our children in the US didn’t have.  But I kind of miss those years of everyone piling into the car and just being there with them – those times created lots of warm memories.

Someone said to me at the second lesson, “You’re not going to watch your seven year old every time, are you?  He just needs you to be here the first time.”  Sure, I could send him in on his own now that I facilitated the first lesson.  It’s not that he needs me to be there, but that he wants me to be there.  I want to be there for him.

I’m so glad to have this opportunity to sit and watch my boys as they do something new, watching them overcoming their hesitations and then seeing the flashing smiles appear on their faces.

Our kids grow up so quickly – enjoy every moment!

Avivah

4 thoughts on “Musings while waiting at the pool

  1. Thank you for reframing all those hours I have sat and will be sitting at the pool (cum sauna for those of us who aren’t in bathing suits; it’s an indoor pool) with my boys who are taking swimming lessons! It’s been seven years of swimming lessons so far and another four or five to go.

  2. Can I ask you, for the sake of honesty, who is watching your 4 year old (and the baby that I thought you were fostering)? Were they with you the whole time you were watching the older ones at the pool?

    I have spent four years at taekwondo lessons. The times that I just took the kids and got to sit, read, relax, blog, were nothing like the times when I was desperately trying to figure out 3 to 4 afternoons per week what to do with three young kids who were not taking taekwondo but surely would not let me just watch?

    1. Hi, Ilana! That’s a fair question.

      Ds4 is one of the kids having swimming lessons who I am watching. While it would be possible for me to take the baby with me and at this age taking him places isn’t a difficult thing to do, he stays home with dd16. When I watched the second set of lessons, ds4 was with me and there’s no question that my attentions were split between keeping a constant eye on him while watching two of his brothers in the pool!

      It is definitely very different if you are watching on your own or watching along with supervising several young children not engaged in the activity! I’m the last person to deny that there’s a lot of work involved. And that’s what I’m reflecting on here, those years doing exactly that – it was a lot of work but there are a lot of good memories, too. In the moment it’s very hard to see the value of what you’re doing beyond the necessity of doing what you have to do.

      Here’s something else to throw into the equation. Let’s say I don’t have to take the kids with me. If they aren’t with me and they aren’t with their older siblings (and for many years I didn’t have older siblings who could watch them), who are they with? It’s nice to have more independence and not need to take kids along, but lots of time outside the home brings up other issues.

      My point is that there’s a ‘cost’ to whatever you do, and there’s also a value to whatever you do. I try in whatever stage I’m at to really appreciate that stage. Kids move through these stages amazingly fast and the things that were so draining at the time are later things that you look back on fondly.

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