When parenting failure leads to success…in a weird kind of way

Kids are more prone to scars and ill-feelings. They need to be encouraged to express these since this is good to their self-esteem as well as helps maintain a communication channel between parents and kids.

My oldest son was upset the other day because she could not participate in an activity and had to pull out. But the way this little girl handled the situation, made me proud of being her dad.

She received an invitation for a swimming competition and she is keen on swimming. When I arrived at the pool, I was taken aback upon learning the participants had to swim 25 meters butterfly, breast, crawl and back strokes. Come on, it is a huge challenge for kids in grades one to three.

Sarah had only swum 10 meters but in the deeper end of the pool. If you’re wondering whether she has had formal swimming lessons, then yes. But even after the lesson, 25 meters was quite too much. Sarah was insistent and confident and I didn’t want to be the one to break it. In all honesty, I was a bit skeptical about the distance. There were lifeguards there on high alert so I wasn’t much scared for her safety.

Sarah successfully finished two lengths. But then they had to do back strokes and this isn’t her forte. She wasn’t particularly happy about it. I was watching from distance trying to keep the other daughter toddler from jumping the pool with fully clothed.

Since she wasn’t up for the back stroke, Sarah herself spoke to the instructor and explained why she didn’t want to do it. Meantime, I made my way down to talk to her.

They allowed her to omit the back stroke but she would still have to do the front crawl on one condition. She was forced to take the outside lane so that she could hold on the wall to rest it need be. When she was called to do it, she wasn’t up for it and I didn’t push it. We left.

Yes, there were tears. I mean she is just a little girl; I’d be worried if she didn’t cry it out. As a father, I repeated a couple of times how proud I was of her for completing two lengths and how she exceeded my expectations. When my wife got back home, she made the same comments and there were encouraging hugs. But most of all, I was proud of the fact that she spoke up and accepted it wasn’t for her. Most kids her age wouldn’t have done so. I don’t think if I was in her place and age, I wouldn’t have either.

But really, I am more proud than my words could possibly describe. If she had taken part in the length and failed miserably, that would have damaged her confidence and some things a little kid can just not bear. I really think she dealt with it really well.

So after the whole thing passed, I asked myself what my role was here. I wondered if I should have let her participate in this thing at all. I have to say, I shouldn’t have. As a parent, this was a lesson for me. I should have had all the information about this competition and talked to the instructor myself beforehand. Also, I need to be sure where my child and her abilities stand in the situation.

But on the brighter side, I am more prepared for my second daughter and these mistakes will probably not be made then. Parenting is hard. We need to cut ourselves some slack.

So, Sarah hasn’t given up her swimming and is still taking her lessons. Guess all’s well when it ends well. I on the other hand, still need to get over the incident.

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