Claire has been very excited about the swim lessons I signed her up for. Her friend Emory takes swim lessons and while were were in California Emory was showing off all of her swimmy skills and Claire was quite impressed. Also, the best part about swim lessons is that you get to go swimming twice a week. In her eyes? SOLD.
Today was the first lesson. She said to me, several times this morning,
"I SO EXCITED about my swim lesson, Mommy!"
"I need my swimsuit! Where my swimsuit!? I have my swim lesson today!"
"Is it time to go yet, Mommy? I don't want to be late for my swim lesson."
"Where are my goggles!? I DON'T WANT TO FORGET THEM!"
So, you know, it was totally expected that when we got there and met her teacher (Sam) that Claire ran away and did not want to set a pinkie toe in that water. There are only two kids in her class and the other little boy wasn't having any of it either and Sam said that this happens every time. (As I suspected.) Claire is pretty adventurous in the water. She's been jumping in and putting her head under, blowing bubbles and kicking all summer, so I knew it was just getting-to-know-her shyness and that she'd warm up at some point.
Sure enough, about twenty minutes into the lesson Claire decided that she'd like to leap into the water and go fetch a noodle that had floated away. It was all her idea and she told Sam that she wanted her to catch her and they'd go get the noodle together. At that moment, when she just jumped in with no fear and a world of joy and happy on her face? Oh, I was proud of her. I was so thrilled for her. My big girl, doing something on her own and with someone she just met, learning new things and being, well, such a big girl.
(Charlotte and I enjoyed the part where we did not have to get wet.)
Since she had spent 20 minutes of the 35 minute lesson pouting and deciding if she'd like to get in the pool at all, once she warmed up there wasn't much time left to play. I warned her several times that it would almost be time to go and we had talked in advance, a lot, about how when the teacher says the lesson is over it is time to dry off and we will be back the next time. Many times! But, since she is almost-three she totally lost her shit when the lesson was over.
She ran away, she cried, she laughed at me. Repeatedly. Her baby sister was crying in her carseat and I had to run after her, down the length of the 25-yard pool. It was like she had switched her ears off: she wasn't listening to a single word I said. She crumpled onto the floor when I finally got to her, refused to walk and did that aggravating noddle leg thing and she laughed at me the entire time. It was...mortifying. Here I had one child screaming in her carseat and one child running away from me and laughing in my face about it. LAUGHING!
And you know what? It's the worst when this happens after I have done something fun, FOR HER. Like, we would not even be in this awkward discipline situation if I wasn't such a fun mom and signed you up for swim lessons in the first place. WHERE IS MY THANK YOU? Perhaps we will just stay home and never do fun things! HOW ABOUT THAT!? [More laughing.]
After a few low-toned Serious Discussions about what I expected from her as we were leaving, plus a handful of threats and privileges taken away, I ended up having to put her over my shoulder, wet, and carry her to the car. I carried an almost-three-year-old to the car. I should not have to do that and I never HAVE had to do that with her. Claire is normally a pretty obedient child and in the rare event she does not listen or follow directions I can still get the behavior I want and need if she is properly incented with a reward or something taken away from her.
But, not today. (And really, not for the past week.) I hear Three is like this. Three doesn't listen. Three laughs at you. Sometimes, Three acts like an untethered zoo animal. We came directly home and I sent her to her room for the mother of all Time Outs. She ended up taking a nap while sequestered. (GOOD.)
So, um, parents who have gone before me? How do we manage Three? What does Three want? How do we contain Three and still go out in public and not end every day with half a bottle of wine?
She is not even actually three and there are seven swim lessons left and I still need to go places like Walmart during the day and...look I just do not want to be laughed at when I make reasonable requests, okay? The laughing is the worst.
Is that too much to ask? It's too much to ask, isn't it? Shit.