For the past year or so, DadJovi and I have a running joke that E. is lazy. It’s not that she’s a sloth who just lays around the house. She’s definitely a very active kid who works hard at learning to read, playing piano and in her ballet lessons.
But the rest of the time? Dang that girl is lazy.
She’s constantly asking for us to carry her or if we go for a bike ride, about 3 blocks away from home, she’s not only done riding, but she expects me to somehow and miraculously carry her AND her bike home.
Now, before you start suspecting that maybe she has some painful leg condition that is keeping her from walking or biking, you can stop right there. I had that same fear myself. She doesn’t. It’s selective laziness.
That girl can run far and fast — when she feels like it. She can work her little toddler legs off for a full, intense hour of ballet class without batting an eye.
But ask her to walk to the end of our block? OOOO EMMMM GEEEE. We’re the worst, most torturous parents who’ve ever lived.
E. is about to wrap up her second week of swim lessons. They’ve been brutal. OK, fine, just for me. The lessons are Monday through Thursday, and I have to rush out of work every day at about 4:45, race to school and pick her up, get her changed into her suit, then rush over to the pool where her lessons are by 5:30.
Last week, one day was completely rained out (but only after we arrived) and two other days were cut short thanks to lightning in the area. It’s been hard to keep any sort of rhythm going. E. (for the most part) can swim. She can swim underwater, float on her back and get herself to the side of the pool. She’s been using a kickboard to get across the pool and the teacher started working on freestyle (which she calls big arms), backstroke and sidestroke last week.
And E. was, you guessed it, lazy with her strokes. When she’s supposed to do freestyle, she’ll take maybe one or two strokes, then float on her back. Another two strokes. Back. And sidestroke? She flat out told her teacher she didn’t want to do it.
This week, weather-wise, we’ve been luckier and I’ve noticed some real progress with E. On Tuesday, she even swam freestyle the full width of the pool by herself, even if there were MANY float breaks.
On Wednesday, our weather luck ran out.
As soon as we arrived, it not only started pouring but they also rang the lightning alarm, which meant everyone had to get out of the pool. But I hadn’t heard any thunder so we decided to stick it out and see if we’d get lucky and be able to squeeze our lesson in. We should have left.
By 5:30, the all-clear alarm rang but the rain picked up.
For about 10 seconds, E. thought it was the coolest thing ever that she’d get to swim in the rain. Then she got into the cold pool. And then her teeth started chattering. And then her eyes started raining, too.
It was, in a word, a disaster.
From the deck, I kept trying to encourage her to kick her legs or do bobs in between her turns with the teacher (it’s a group lesson with three other kids). I told her the move she moved, the warmer she’d get.
She wasn’t buying what I was selling.
As the other kids, well, acted like kids and played around, E. stood in one place shivering like crazy and crying.
She got out of the pool twice. The first time I said, “If you don’t stop crying, we’re going to leave. Is that what you want?” I figured she’d say no because she LOVES swim lessons. And I was right. She said no and pouted her way back into the pool.
About 10 minutes later (the lesson is 30 minutes long), she got out again and I made the same threat. This time she said, “Yes, Mommy, I want to leave!!” Damn her for calling my bluff! This time, I said if we left this lesson she couldn’t return for her final one on Thursday.
That got her back in.
Somehow, she still kept taking her turns through the tears.
Mercifully, the half-hour finally came to an end. I praised E. for sticking with a tough situation and finishing her lesson, but again, she wasn’t buying my load of bull.
In E’s defense, the weather was rotten, the water was cold and later that night, she had a nasty bout of diarrhea, so maybe she was just off. But this wasn’t the first time she’s resisted “toughing it out” because she was too tired/hot/cold/bored, etc. Just ask DadJovi about the time he had to carry E. on his shoulders ALL.DAY.LONG at Disney because he forgot the stroller. It took both of them several days to recover from that.
How do parents do it? How do you encourage your kid to finish what they started without being an obnoxious overbearing parent who pushes her kids to do things they don’t want to do? How do you push your kids without being pushy?
Basically, I just need someone to teach me how to raise an Olympian. Oh, crap, did I write that out loud?
But seriously, I want E. to have that spark in her that makes her stick with tough situations and push herself beyond what she thinks she can do. I suppose it should help if I had that same spark. Who am I to talk, really? I’m terrible about committing to and sticking with workout and eating goals. Maybe that’s why I’m so concerned that she’s better than me.
Whenever you hear an interview with an Olympian (totally just for example, I swear!), they always credit their parents with encouraging them to work hard. How do they do that? Was Michael Phelps actually a lazy toddler until his mom said some magic words of wisdom?
And I know, I know. She’s only 4. I’m not that worried about her toughness now but the disastrous swim lesson just drove home the point to me that I’m really clueless about what to say in these situations. If she was 8 and this was happening, I’m afraid I’ll end up saying something really hurtful like “suck it up.”
Any suggestions? Did you parents or a coach ever give you any words of wisdom that have stuck with you through the years?
Or is becoming a crazed helicopter parent who push, push, pushes my only option? If so, well I’m in trouble. I’m too lazy for that.