I attempted to take Gideon to his swim class on Sunday. It was a big fail. I should have known better, really. He has never liked swimming, and the pool usually freaks him out (he likes lakes better, but even so, he doesn't like going in the water he just likes playing on the beach). I think all the noise bothers him. Even in the change room he was screaming like I was ripping off his toe nails or something. Simply because he didn't like his socks being off. I remember a time when he refused to wear socks, when he was little. Then last winter something flipped a switch in his head and he realized socks = warm, and ever since then he has been very pro-socks. Now to the point where he will not go sockless, even in bed he MUST have socks on (and the world ends if one of his socks gets twisted!). I also realized when we were in the change room that Gideon was not going to be able to take his Blankie in the pool (duh), and that was probably going to be an issue too.
I was really patient and super gentle and tried to coax him into letting me put his swim suit on him. No dice. So then I just started doing it, I had sacrificed my sleep and got up early and got him ready and out on time (despite daylight savings!), so I wanted to at least try. But it was just bad. I took him out and let him see the pool (with his Blankie), I thought maybe he would change his mind, but no, he didn't want to be near there at all. He even calmed down for a while and looked out over the pool, and I pointed out the kids having fun, and the toys, and how he could splash and play. He paused for a moment and thought about it, then calmly said "No, I want to go back to the van." I knew it would be a bad idea to force him, so we just went back and got changed and left.
He was very happy to get his socks back on, and then he was good to go! I took him to the observation area by the pool, and we watched the kids swim and play, and even watched his own class for a while, but he still DID NOT want to go in there. So I guess that's that. I really really should have known, I feel kind of stupid now. That's a total waste of $44. I think I just signed him up because I felt bad that Judith has been to so many classes, and even Ruthie has been to swimming classes with me, but he never has. Obviously there is a reason I never took him!
I have taken him swimming at the pool a couple times with Judith (before and while I was pregnant with Ruthie), and he didn't scream those times, but he did cling to me. I guess now that he's older he can fight me a bit more, and before I could nurse him in the pool, but of course now he's more attached to Blankie, who can't come too. Maybe he would be ok if Judith was there, but obviously she can't come to his class.
The only thing I am really upset about is the money. I know it was an honest mistake, and I'm trying to learn to embrace failure as an opportunity to learn, but I don't like when it costs us financially. I will call and cancel if I can, but I doubt I will get any money back. I really do want to do something special with Gideon, I feel like he gets shafted a lot. I just wish I would have been smart enough to sign him up for a music class or something instead. Something sock-friendly.
Anyway, after our big ordeal, we left the pool. I was super calm the whole time, I'm surprised that I didn't get angry or frustrated at all despite my lack of sleep the night before. I think it's just that I understand Gideon, I just finished reading The Highly Sensitive Child, and it not only helped me with Gideon, but also showed me so much about myself, as I am definitely highly sensitive too. It really validated me, and also reaffirmed what I have been doing with Gideon all along instinctively. I don't feel guilty about "coddling" him anymore, I am just being sensitive to his sensitivity. Hopefully I can teach him to manage his intense emotions and navigate through all of the overwhelming things in life instead of just shutting down all the time like I do.
I knew it was the best decision, even though I was upset with myself for wasting money. I didn't really want to leave, though, since it took so much work to get there. Then I remembered that there are always a lot of school buses parked out back, so we went and checked those out. Gideon was really excited. We have been watching episodes of The Magic School Bus from the library, and Gideon has started to notice and love school buses when we are out. He was thrilled to run up to a big bus, the wheel was bigger than him!
After that we went to a park and he played for a little while. He really wanted to go on the big slide, but had to go across these "treacherous" steps to get there. He wanted to give up right away (like me when I have to try something new), but I held his hand, and he did it! Then he went down the slide and loved it, and climbed back up with confidence, but then when he got to the top of the slide the second time I think he realized how high it was, and he started to freak out. I couldn't reach him, he was too high, so I put my hand up and coaxed him to sit and come down the slide. He had to push off before he would reach my hand, so it took some courage, but he did it! He caught my hand as he was sliding (it was a super slow slide, and he had done it before just fine, but his feelings of fear were valid and I wasn't going to belittle him), and then he was so proud of himself! That was definitely a better lesson for him than if I would have forced him into the pool. If I would have forced him in the water, it probably would have done a lot more damage than good. Not to mention how difficult his screaming would have been for me and annoying for everyone else. I honestly don't really care what the other parents thought of me, even in the change room when he was apparently dying. But still, I wasn't going to push it. I'm really proud of myself for staying calm, trying my best, and then making a wise decision.