Ben and I aren't the richest people in the world. My kids go without a lot of stuff that I had as a child, and that's kind of a hard pill for me to swallow sometimes.
For instance, when I was growing up, if we wanted to do an extracurricular activity, Mom and Dad could pay for it. No prob. But my poor kids are deprived in the extracurricular area of their lives. We finally were able to start getting Dylan into Taekwondo a year ago, when he was almost 8. Sadie took ballet lessons for free when my cousin lived here, but now that my cousin's moved, Sadie's dancing days are over. She'd like to do Taekwondo as well, but we just can't afford it right now.
Swimming lessons have been a particular point of contention between Ben and me. I keep telling him that being able to swim is such an essential skill, especially living in Idaho, with all the canals, lakes, rivers, etc. It's just wise to give your kids swimming lessons. He always insisted that we couldn't afford it, and that he would teach the kids himself.
Yeah, that's never happened.
I was able to talk Ben into putting the kids into lessons once in 2007, and then once in 2009, but nothing since then.
As you know, two weeks ago, we went to Lake Chelan, Washington, for a week to hang out with Ben at his mom and stepdad's house. Ben decided that now was the time to teach Dylan to swim. In the freezing cold snow melt-fed lake. In an area where Dylan couldn't touch. In a lake where he couldn't see below his waist.
It did not go well.
I was sitting on the grass near the beach, and you know how sound carries really well over the surface of the water? I could hear every tormented word that came out of Dylan's mouth: "MOMMY! MOMMY! SAVE ME! I'M GOING TO DROWN! MOOOOOOOOOM! HELP ME! I'M SCARED!! NOOOOOO!!"
And I could hear Ben's frustrated attempts to calm Dylan down: "Dylan, I'm not going to let go of you. You're going to be fine. Stop scratching my back."
I let it go on for about five minutes, until some lady came up to me.
"Is that your kid out there?"
"Tell me that's someone you know with him."
"Your husband, right?"
"I know, right?"
I figured that maybe I should go intervene, since people were starting to say things to me. So I peeled off my really ugly coverup and waded out into the water. They were out pretty deep - probably to my chest or so. And like I said, this water was ffffffreezing. So I was wading out there, step by step, hugging my boobs to my chest (I don't know why that's my first response when I walk into cold water. Hug the boobs. That will help. Not.), trying to call out to Ben, studdering from the cold: "B-b-b-b-Ben. Be-en. Gi-gi-give Duh-duh-Dylan to m-m-m-me. Pe-pe-peo-p-p-ple are s-s-s-saying things to-to-to m-m-me."
Frustrated, Ben thrust Dylan in my direction, and he dog-paddled to me. When he reached me, I scooped him up, and he clung to my neck as if he was two years old, sobbing.
I heard Ben mutter as I waded away, "I don't know what his problem is. Everyone needs to stop coddling him. This is how I learned to swim - my dad threw me into the lake and said, 'Swim!' and I did."
Dylan and I reached a point where he could touch, so I set him down and we walked over to the log where Ben's mom was sitting with Gage. She was chuckling.
"So Ben seems pretty mad."
"Yep. Tell me something - is it true that Ben learned to swim by his dad throwing him into the lake and telling him to swim?"
"NO! He took several years of swimming lessons!!"
"That's what I thought."
Later that night, when Ben had calmed down, I said, "You know, eventually, Dylan will be able to swim in a cold lake. But he hasn't learned in a safer environment first. If you would let me sign him up for swimming, that will be a more comfortable place for him to learn. Eventually, you two will be able to swim in the lake as much as you like."
Ben pouted for a few moments, and finally said, "Okay, fine. Sign the kids up. Fine."
And that is how I finally won the Swimming Fight.
The kids started swimming lessons today. They're all doing great. Well, except for Micah. But let's be real here - he's NEVER doing great. He's usually in various states of emotional meltdown. Today was no exception.