Lessons in letting go: the swim class dilemma

Our daughter doesn’t want to take swim lessons anymore.

We aren’t sure why. She’s been taking swim classes for two years now and has enjoyed it until this very last session. Maybe she doesn’t love her new teacher. Maybe she doesn’t have as many friends in the class anymore. Maybe last session, when we had to switch to Saturdays, messed up the rhythm of her Thursday afternoons even though we switched back this time around. Maybe she’s sick of her swimsuit. Maybe she’s just ready to take a break.

We aren’t ones to push our kids into lots of scheduled activities, sporty or not. I believe firmly in the power of an open afternoon, boredom, and the outside, especially as the weather warms up. Even so, I wonder if we are always doing right by letting her drop things. Last year, when she started kindergarten, she discovered a newfound love for gym class and sports. As a non-athletic person, I was fascinated. Could my kid be…sporty? (My husband, I should add, is quite sporty, so this did have a genetic basis.)

We hooked her up with some classes. Nothing crazy. We set a max at two classes per week: one swim, one something else, rotating through the sessions. She tried soccer. She liked it. She tried basketball. She liked it. She tried swimming. She loved it.

Then, this fall, it all started to drop away. Soccer season came and went. No interest. Basketball season came and went. She didn’t want to join. Swim was her last hold-out. She still loved it; I was delighted she was gaining a useful life skill. But now? Not even swim. Should we let her quit everything? Just like that? If we do, will she be able to pick back up? I worry that, with so many kids playing sports so hard, so early, if she wants to try basketball again in third grade, it will be too late. Her skills won’t be good enough.

Will she be disappointed that we didn’t encourage her more and instead let her spend her afternoons catching frogs in the pond?

We’ve decided to let her drop swimming. Though she’s not a natural and isn’t exactly a fish in the water, she’s reached a reasonable level of swimming proficiency. I’d say she’s a hair above a drowning rat. We’ll do our best to get her to the lakes for those endless, lazy summer afternoons of inner tubes, sunburns, and barbeque chips that I remember from my childhood. We’ll see if an interest in swimming kicks back up in the fall. We’ll check on soccer again, too. And basketball.

And if none of it seems interesting?

I guess we’ll place our bets with the frogs.

Cherie Galyean

About Cherie Galyean

In a perfect world, Cherie Galyean would spend hours every day chasing her kids up hiking trails, pretending to garden, and baking things. Instead, she works full-time in the non-profit sector and fits those other things in-between loads of laundry in her free time. A Maine native with multiple hometowns, she currently lives on Mount Desert Island with her husband, seven-year-old daughter, five-year-old son, and the best shelter mutt in the world.