Time keeps on slipping

It’s been a big week over here at Girl in a Boy House headquarters. Mark started swimming lessons at school, and it has been great. He loves it. I will admit right now that I fretted a lot – privately – about school swimming lessons, although that may be partly due to the waiver that the school sent home. Evidently DEATH, DISMEMBERMENT, and INJURY are lurking everywhere, from the ½ block walk to the pool to the actual swimming lessons themselves. Of course, the same exact waiver was sent home when the kindergarten walked the ½ block to the library. “I absolve the school of blame for death, dismemberment, or injury from possible slipping on the ice/ crossing the street/ bleeding to death from a paper cut in the children’s book section”. I know they have to cover their bases but really. This does not help if you happen to be a nervous sort with a not-so-little phobia about public swimming pools and their change rooms. You might be thinking that I should probably tone down the crazy just a little, and you would be right.

So anyway, Mark is having a great time, swimming with his friends and reportedly doing just fine in the change room, unlike his crazy mother. The first time I enrolled him in swimming lessons, he was three years old and I ended up withdrawing him after two sessions because I just couldn’t take the crying any more. I also couldn’t take the other mothers, whose children were splashing and singing happily, who kept advising me to “just put him back in the pool, or he’ll never get used to it.” After withdrawing him, I fretted and worried and was convinced that I just contributed to a lifelong fear of water and that he would never learn to swim. I enrolled him again when he was almost five and he loved it, and he is learning to swim.

Is it me, or is our society programmed to start children in sports and activities too early? A friend was telling me about parents leaving their sobbing children on the hockey rink for an hour, refusing to take them off, because that would encourage a quitter’s attitude. These children were three and four years old. As my friend said, “Is that any way to introduce a child to a sport?” I vehemently spoke against starting a U4 soccer league in our community, for two reasons: a) we are constantly short of volunteers and a U4 league would require a high adult-to-child ratio, and b) if you want your three and four year olds to run rampant around a soccer field, surely you can do so in a non-organized way. I was reading that Olympian Chandra Crawford started cross-country skiing at age one, essentially as soon as she could walk. Well, I’m not too worried about quashing my children’s Olympic dreams; they are much more likely to be mathletes than professional athletes.

The other big event this week was that I registered Jake for kindergarten. Let’s all just sit silently for a minute to absorb that information. I recall Jake as an infant in the Baby Bjorn, where he lived for months, as I chased around his not-yet-two-year-old brother. I think about the cumbersome double stroller, the myriad diapers and gargantuan diaper bag, the way I frequently envied mothers of school aged children. There’s no need to make children do things before they are ready, because the time speeds by so swiftly, even when it seems to be crawling. That period of my life that seemed interminable at times is now rapidly ending.


  1. The thought of registering my youngest for K made me cry. And I have a year yet. Sending you chocolate wishes!
    I hear you on the sports thing.
    My niece is in gymnastics, skating twice a week and cheerleading. She is not yet 5.
    My kids take swimming. And my three year old who is not in a school of any sort takes a “sports class” which involves a lot of running and mommy sipping a latte.
    The point of the class being the Latte.
    But that’s it.
    That’s the way i like it.

  2. *SNIFF*

    I don’t want to sign our kids up for too many things, either. However, my eldest wants to be involved in every.thing. Keeping the right balance for our family has been a learning experience.

  3. I just just fretting today to my husband that I hadn’t signed up my son for any sport yet (he’s 3). But he seems so young still and I’m not really sure there’s a point to paying a bunch of money to put him in something. All the other moms are doing it though so I felt pressured (indirectly). Reading this made me rethink and I think I’ll hold off on enrolling him into anything for a little while longer.

  4. My son (kindergarten-eligible next fall) just started swimming lessons and he kind of hates it. But learning to swim seems to be on a different scale than say, learning to kick a soccer ball into a net.

    Congratulations (and sniff sniff) on your son entering the fabled kindergarten year!

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