Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Swimmingly Good, and Some Adversity, Too

After two days of summer school, my son is off to good start adjusting to being in a new classroom and having a new teacher. He has been safe both days, and his teacher reported that he has been happy and doing a nice job. It probably helped that she let the students pick something out of her prize box on the first day and Kai found a couple of Pokémon cards.

Of course, life with Kai usually means that even when things are going well in one area, there are often complications in other areas.

Yesterday, Kai came home from school in a good mood. After greeting him, I went back to my home office feeling happy that he had had another good day.

But about a half hour later, when it was time for him to leave for his swim lesson, I heard some yelling. I came out to see what was going on.

My wife explained that Kai said he wanted a Nintendo DS. (Quick aside: I don’t know where this desire for a DS came from. I am pretty sure he has seen them before and he never was interested at all. Perhaps he is becoming more in tune with his surroundings and taking more of an interest in things that other children have.)

Anyway, my wife said she told him that perhaps he could get it for Hanukkah or Christmas. When he said he did not want to wait that long, she mentioned that he might be able to earn it if he achieved Level 4 at school.

He was not happy with that idea. When Kai wants something, he wants it RIGHT NOW. He does not like waiting even a week for something. To wait until the end of the year probably seemed like an eternity.

But one of my goals has been to try to teach him to be able to wait for things, and to work a longer period of time before getting rewarded. I believe that it is a crucial skill he needs to learn. But it is not easy to teach.

In this case, he whined and moaned and yelled that he can’t wait that long and that he wanted it now. He said that he would not go to his swim lesson.

As it was already late, I felt an urgency to get him going. We could have waited him out, tried to calm him down, and reason with him.

I used a different approach.

I put my arms around him, carried him to the garage, and put him into the car. He was screaming the whole time, saying that he didn’t want to be my dad anymore (meaning he did not want me to be his dad).

My wife said that she would not be able to get him into the gym so I got in the car with them, sitting in the back seat next to Kai. During the ride, he kept expressing mean thoughts. But his anger gradually subsided.

At the gym, I thought there was a chance that he might walk in on his own.

Alas, when he refused, I grabbed him by the arm and pulled him into the building. He has grown a lot so he is no longer a small child. If he really resisted, it would have been nearly impossible to get him inside. But he only put up mild resistance and I was able to get him over to his trainer James.

While I was getting Kai into the building, my wife had called James and explained the situation. When he saw us, he started to talk to Kai and gave me the signal to leave. James told me later that Kai calmed down a while after I left.

I went back toward the end of his lesson and saw that Kai is swimming better than ever.

I praised him for recovering and doing a great job with swimming. But I also told him that he had acted poorly and would not be able to play with his Pokémon cards for the rest of the day. He accepted his punishment calmly, as he realized that his actions were not appropriate.

We went on to enjoy the evening, playing yet another game of Monopoly after dinner.

And so it was a day filled with good and bad, adversity and recovery.

I don’t know what will happen the next time the topic of the Nintendo DS comes up, but that is for another time.

Instead, I will leave you with a video of Kai swimming yesterday. His form is not perfect, but he has come a long way.


  1. Excellent form! I was so surprised with Kai's swimming. He has concentrated on his timing and the technical aspects of his strokes. He will continue to improve since his basics are solid. Good job Kai. Very impressive!

  2. We had similar posts today, didn't we! Kai is swimming very well! Good for you in using a new approach that worked and he didn't miss his lesson! :)

    1. Well, I don't want to have to go through that every week, but a little 'nudge' now and then is needed I suppose. :)

  3. I just showed my son this video. Kai has much better swimming form...and he knows the freestyle stroke...Alex only knows the Breaststroke. Alex was impressed with Kai's swimming abilities.

    1. Thanks, Shiroi. I don't see Kai swim every week so I am always very pleasantly surprised to see how much he improves each time. He is a far better swimmer than I am!

  4. Yuji-
    Big sigh... I have had similar experiences with piano and swimming lessons. It is hard-especially if you are upset and embarrassed as the used to bother me much more than it does now.

    I know with my son, that he has had more challenges lately since school recently got out. Any changes (even good ones) take some time to adjust. I don't know your son, but maybe it was a transition issue. Just some thoughts... Blessings to you and your son!

    1. Kelly, I don't get embarrassed nearly as much these days as before. But I still have to do better at dealing with these types of situations more matter of factly, and without emotion.

      Yes, this could partly be a transition issue... we were surprised how well he is transtioning to a new class and teacher for summer school, but it could be affecting him in other ways.


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