Julia has taken intermittent swimming lessons for two years now. They consist of Daddy going in the pool with her, she kicking her legs, blowing bubbles, playing with a ball, and Daddy tossing her up in the air repeatedly until the staff tell Daddy to knock it off. It is kind of like kid paradise, all under the guise of "swimming lessons."
Then she turned 3. It's practically like she's an adult now (I jest, but the sentiment is kind of true). She's expected to go into the pool ALONE, sit when instructed, do assorted swimming-type activities with her classmates when instructed, have the teacher help her do certain swimming-type activities, NOT play with the balls in the water (like the babies do...), etc.
She's had two of these lessons since she's turned 3 years old. Guess what part she has excelled at? She sits when instructed. She is the most well-behaved little girl. When the teacher tells them all to sit, she sits. She keeps her hands to herself and pays attention to the teacher. She doesn't splash other kids. When other kids splash her, she throws them dirty looks. She is the model of prissy decorum.
There's this little boy in her class named Christian. He's one of those kids that every adult knows the name of because the teacher has sternly talked to him 4,523 times during the 30 minute swim lesson. He runs on the wet cement. He dangles from the bar you're supposed to hold onto when you get in or out of the pool. He pushes other kids. He splashes other kids. He yells. Whenever the teacher's head is turned, he tries to overthrow the class. He's going to be one of THOSE kids. He's why God made Ritalin, I suppose.
Christian is one of those kids that makes me appreciate having quiet, risk-averse, panic-attack ridden Julia. I could sincerely NOT keep cool if I had to deal with a reckless kid who got into everything, who deliberately caused harm to others, and was on his way to juvenile hall at the mere age of 3 years old.
BUT...and this a big BUT...
Christian gets, or rather cannon balls, into the water all by himself. You don't have to coax him in. He doesn't have a panic attack if he can't see his mom - heck, he probably wouldn't even ask about her unless she was gone for 12 hours. He's completely comfortable in any new situation, like an overeager puppy.
Then there was my kid, who was clinging to me during the whole swimming lesson. I WASN'T in the pool, and she was SUPPOSED TO BE in the pool, so this basically turned out to be her sitting on the pool ledge as I held her hand. The teacher held out a kickboard for her to get on, and the teacher was going to pull her around the pool. Julia would have nothing to do with it. I eventually bribed her to at least lay on the immobile kickboard for 2 seconds. If it was my husband or me in the pool with the kickboard, she would have no problem. But my kid freaks out in the presence of any other adult, so she would have none of that. Basically the 30 minute swim lesson is her sitting on the ledge of pool while holding my hand and staring at Christian like he's a science experiment.
All of the other parents were sitting in the viewing area behind glass. I was the only parent who had to be two inches from her kid, and even then Julia wouldn't do half the things she was supposed to do during the class.
I should have ground up some Xanax and put it in her orange juice.
As I was leaving the pool with my kid who had suddenly become unmute (as opposed to her being mute for the whole swimming class), I wondered what kid I'd prefer. Would I prefer a Christian, or would I prefer a Julia? Honestly I'd probably prefer a middle-of-the-road kid. But if given the choice of extremes, I'd pick Julia.
Less emergency room visits.