When Rain Hurts by Mary Evelyn Greene

July 5, 2010

July 5, 2010


Mudge Pond (July 4, 2010, Sharon, CT)

July 5, 2010.  Peter’s newest obsession is water, and like nearly everything with him, it cuts both ways.  The positive side of the equation is that one of Sophie’s swim coaches has been working with him in the morning and thinks he has real potential, something Pat and I frankly never considered.  Swimming is all about discipline, self-imposed discipline at that, and learning and mastering strokes, at least beyond the dog paddle, requires significant motor planning.  For years I religiously enrolled Peter in summer swim lessons, which were more or less disastrous.  The water was cold, he didn’t like people touching him, and he couldn’t seem to move his arms and kick at the same time.  I wound up teaching him to swim myself, and though it’s never been pretty, I was confident that he was safe in the water.  But like so many things with Peter, time has a way of instructing.  Maybe he wasn’t developmentally ready then.  Maybe he is now, I’m not sure.  But wouldn’t it be great if he was?  Wouldn’t it be fantastic if he could follow the routines, experience a sense of real physical accomplishment, and be surrounded by typical, positive role models?  Maybe at 9 he’s ready.  If we did give swim team a try, the coach said he would swim with the younger kids because despite his age, he’d be in the beginning group, which is perfect.  Unsupervised showering and dressing in the locker room however, is another matter altogether.  Pat would likely to have to meet me at the end of practice because there’s no way Peter can attend to the steps necessary to shower and dress while surrounded by a mob of rowdy boys.  He can’t manage these simple skills at home under close supervision.  The whole swim team proposition is riddled with maybes and what ifs and but hows, but still, the possibility is appealing.  The less appealing part of Peter’s recent interest in water, however, has to do with his pouring it on himself, usually in a semi-private place like the bathroom or his assigned third row seat in my Toyota Highlander.  Water bottles are now his new favorite thing to empty, and not via consumption.  Because Peter is both clumsy and prone to disruption, we’ve always limited liquids in the car to just water.  But for the past several weeks he’s taken to splashing water on himself in the sink and emptying water bottles in the back of the car.  It’s not the end of the world – its just water after all, but the behavior both annoys and puzzles.  I’m half thinking that because the water tends to be warm sitting in the car this time of year, he may be trying to replicate the feel of hot urine on his skin, which claims he likes.  I haven’t caught him in the bathroom yet, but maybe he’s using hot water there too.  I can’t think of anything else that would be triggering the behavior, but then again, like so much of what Peter does, often there is no plausible antecedent: just raw impulse and the tools at hand necessary to act on them.  In the past, we’ve weathered lotion-dumping themes, carving into leather furniture themes, defecating themes, spitting themes, stealing themes, and night-wandering themes.  The water obsession is the most benign theme we’ve encountered in some time, so I guess I should count my blessings.  Especially if it transfers even semi-successfully into an interest in organized, and for Peter, brain organizing, swim.

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3 Comments »

  1. Is there a rule that he has to shower and change at the pool? We go to our community pool all the time but we just come home in our swimwear and shower and change. Maybe you can just take Peter ‘as is’ and go home. I agree he should not be in there without an adult to supervise, for both his protection and the protection of the other boys. You don’t want any accusations (true or false) to occur. If Peter loves it now, why put him on a team? Did he ask to be on the team? I would be hesitate to put him on the swim team for fear that he would reject the structure if all he really wants is to do his own thing.

    Comment by 4Kids4Karen — July 7, 2010 @ 2:02 pm | Reply

  2. Great blog!!! I have two from Russia.

    Comment by Courtney — July 7, 2010 @ 7:44 pm | Reply

  3. One of the most calming places for my child is in the water. My kiddo and I go to the beach at the lake as much as possible. It’s a joy to see my child happy and calm. Usually it’s happy and overstimulated. I’m so glad to hear Peter loves the water.

    Comment by Lori — July 12, 2010 @ 8:24 pm | Reply


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