Keepin’ Her Head Above Water

Tomorrow, Camille and I will once again suit up and join in with a bunch of other moms and dads for our StarBabies swim class at the Aquatic Center. When the classes began in January, I was SUPER excited. Camille enjoyed playing in the pool last year, and if I could grow gills and fins I think that would be fine because I really like water.
At first, the class was great. She liked splashing and chasing her pool toy. Each week they get to pick out a little inflatable toy, and we toss it in the pool and practice kicking and paddling to get to it. Here she is, heading toward her little green turtle in the bottom right corner of the picture.
She also likes being tossed into the air. Even though the water splashes her face, she doesn’t seem to mind and I usually get a big smile.
But she is most certainly and unequivocally not interested in putting her head under water. If I remember correctly, we tried it for the first time during our second class, and she came up crying and mad. I chalked it up to the shock of a new experience, and determined we’d try it again. After her third dunking, it was clear she was NOT a fan.
Since then, every class has a game or a lesson that involves going under water, and Camille has not gotten over her aversion to it. In fact, this was the last picture her Daddy took of our lesson last week, because it was right before she went under water. There were no more smiles after that.
A couple of times the instructor has taken her under water, I guess hoping she’d have a different reaction with someone else. But each time she comes up red-faced and crying. Then she wraps her arms around my neck and holds on for dear life.
I don’t blame her, because I’m sure it’s a strange sensation. And this is, after all, the baby who HATES to have her hair washed. But what seems odd to me is that she is the only baby in our class who doesn’t like going under water. Some of them fussed at first, or they may not like certain games, but all of them are somewhat comfortable with getting dunked. Some are as young as 8 months, and others are almost 3 years old.
So I’ve been doing some soul searching and trying to decide the right thing to do when we go to class tomorrow. Do I keep trying to take her under and help her overcome her fears? Or do I give up on that and just play above water? I don’t want to push too hard and end up having her hate pools, but I also want to encourage her to swim. And I get the feeling the instructor thinks we’re both kind of wimpy about it.
Maybe I’ll wait until the end of class and then give it another try. That way I won’t have ruined the entire class if she still doesn’t like it. I just need to remember not to project my own desires on her by pushing her to do something she’s obviously not enjoying. If she doesn’t ever like swimming, of course that’s ok. But I’ve talked to other moms at work who said their kids didn’t like going under water at Camille’s age, but as they got older they loved the pool. That’s my hope anyway!