“So there was this little ‘a-hole kid’ in Annie’s swim class this summer.”
That was how I originally planned to start this post, but when I re-read the sentence I realized it was no way to talk about a little guy. Still, this kid definitely made Annie’s swim class… interesting.
You may remember from previous posts that Annie started the summer in a beginner’s class where she swam with a parent, then graduated to the next class, where – gasp – she went into the pool by herself along with two other toddlers and an instructor.
I was nervous at first (and prepared to dive in should anything go wrong), but relaxed upon seeing the instructor was great and that most of the instruction took place on the steps. There was something that concerned me though: one of Annie’s fellow students, the lone boy of the trio, would not listen to a thing the instructor said. That alone wouldn’t have been a big a deal – we’re talking about two and three-year-old kids here – but he also floated under the water for disconcertingly long stretches of time, and swam away from the group any chance he got.
This meant that the instructor had to focus 80% of her attention on this kid, and Annie and the other student got the short shrift. Many times the instructor turned to Annie, ready to teach her how to kick or paddle, then realized the boy had been under water for thirty seconds and raced over to fish him out. This happened over and over, so much so that the instructor often ran out of time to work with Annie.
Most alarmingly, at one session he was under water and swimming away from the group when he hit his head on a railing and didn’t come up. A lifeguard had to jump in and grab him, and when he surfaced he was a bit dazed. Scary.
On the drive home I told Heather that the kid’s mom never should have brought him back after seeing how he acted the first day. Later though it occurred to me that his mom might have worried that if she stopped bringing him she’d be doing him a disservice because he really needed socialization. It also occurred to me that she may have been a good parent who worked really hard with him, but that he just had issues for whatever reason.
Heather and I considered complaining, but decided against making an awkward scene at the pool – especially since Annie was happy enough just splashing around. In the future though it won’t be such an easy decision, especially if the disruption has a more substantial impact on Annie. If (or more likely when) the day comes that there’s a kid disrupting Annie’s class, team, or circle of friends, what do we do as her parents?
I’m hoping that I’ll develop some kind of instinct that will tell me when it is time to step in, but something tells me it won’t be that easy.
That’s a tough one. I think I might have said something though I do see your point that the other parent might be trying to better socialized her kid. When ever I need to say anything about someone else at work (and I think this would work in most situations) is “I don’t want to get so and so in trouble but I need to express my concerns on behalf of …”. Swimming lessons are so important as it saves lives and the swim instructor should be trained to deal with diruptive student with the 1 warning, then have the kid sit out of the pool. It’s not fair, nor safe for them to be distracted by one kid.
lisa d says:
That’s a hard one. I wrestle with those decisions constantly, because as a college professor, I’ve seen how damaging the so-called “helicopter” parents can be to a child. I think that if your child is capable of handling the issue on their own, you let them. But, if a child is young and can’t or is in a class that YOU’ve paid for, I don’t see anything wrong with speaking to the people running the class. It’s not like the child needs more instruction if he’s swimming away on his own. It would be different if the kid was scared or something and needed more hand-holding.
I did say something this summer at my 4 year old daughter’s swimming lesson. She was repeating the level she was in last summer with her sister (when they were 3 and 5) at the suggestion of last year’s teachers who thought she needed more confidence in the water before she moved on. Her father and I agreed and it was really no big deal for her to repeat Tot Level 1.
There were four little kids in the class. Two of them HOWLED for the first week. At the end of day three I asked if my daughter was in the right class. She was splashing and having a ball while half of the class sounded like professional mourners.
The teachers assured me she was placed correctly and then apologized for the crying kids….which made me feel bad because it wasn’t the teachers’ fault that they were crying. The teachers were high school aged life guards and I didn’t want anyone to think I was frustrated with them. I think they did a fantastic job with a difficult situation.
I guess I’m just sharing this because I don’t know if you ever know beyond a shadow of a doubt when to intervene. With my own kids, I feel like I pull them when I realize they’re going to disrupt the learning of everyone else. My younger daughter missed a dance class this year because she was crying when we arrived and didn’t recover. She had a late nap, fussed the whole drive there and lost it when I opened the door to her studio. She usually loves dance, but she was tired and irritable. As soon as I opened the door she SHRIEKED and all of the other little girls who were already seated and ready to learn looked alarmed. I made eye contact with the teacher, mouthed “not today” and took her home. The next week she was happy to dance again.
Jessie D says:
Have you considered talking to the director at the pool? I think it’s fair to do so considering that Annie isn’t getting the training that you are paying for. I think the way you have it stated here is perfect. Otherwise, perhaps when you register her for the next class, request that she and the little a-hole not be put in the same session…
This is a toughie. I am the mother of a difficult child. And a child with a sn. I could see both of my children doing this and I would be mortified. I struggle with it daily. I think it says a lot that you didn’t make a big deal. I am often accused of getting in the way too much… But when my kid is having trouble focusing I have a hard time just sitting back and letting him do his thing. I’m always so jealous when I see parents who have kids who are not so impulsive. I read all the books and I follow all the rules and I still struggle with situations like the one you witnessed.
P.S. I am keeping you and Heather in my thoughts, I am so very sorry about Jackie.
I feel like I’m in that boat a lot and it stinks knowing other parents wish my kid weren’t there. Kids often have a different way to approach new situations and he clearly wanted to see where the boundary was for swim class.
It’s too bad the instructor couldn’t do more — I think when they are high school age they are afraid to say something to the parents.
I’m sorry–but I’m dense…what is an sn? Just wondering. Thanks!
Duh–special needs. Can I use the fact that I’ve suffered medical induced brain damage for not getting that one?
And I just want to say (nicely be ause I love you guys!) that I know some kids sink, but calling them little a-holes is unkind. Especially young toddlers who clearly have issues. Please don’t take that the wrong way, I love you guys. But it just breaks my heart that people may think this about my child when I really try hard to be a good parent.
Now if the kid was a bully… I have no problem with that term! lol
I think it’s probably situational, whether to say something or not. I mean, in this situation, there was a level of danger associated with the kid’s misbehavior–i.e., if the teacher’d been a tiny more distracted or slower or what have you, this kiddo might’ve been in serious danger (as it sounds he was a couple times!). And while I’m not sure talking to the parent would be the right tact, mentioning something to the teacher (who herself is in the better position to talk to the parent being as she is not a third party observer but actually involved with the kid) wouldn’t be amiss. But because of the danger, not because of the time-sink.
There are always going to be time-sink kids in Annie’s life. In school, in teams, in clubs, in scouts–everywhere. But here is the secret: sometimes, Annie will be the time-sink kid. In 99% of classes in school, I was never a problem, but the second my butt hit a chair in math class, I was a raving jerk that no one could control. And while I would whine and complain and moan in English, history, science, band, you name it that so-and-so took all the teacher’s time because he was a jerk . . . I was then the jerk in math.
I think in the end, it balances out, and unless it’s really egregious (or dangerous), it’s best left to the professionals to handle. Whether that means you stopping to talk to the professionals or deciding just to wait it out, I don’t know. But as a former teacher (and this you may know as well), nothing makes me more uncomfortable than the thought of one parent addressing another parent’s parenting through their kid’s behavior in something like a class or club. Because how kids behave around their parents is not necessarily how kids behave away from them (see also: me in math class).
I agree with the other commenters that this is a tough one. As Annie’s parent, your focus is obviously on how Annie is being impacted. There may likely be issues surrounding the other child or parent that you are completely unaware of. If my child were being harmed or bullied, I would definitely step in. In this case, I would be frustrated, but would not interfere. Over the course of Annie’s life, there will be times when she is the one that requires extra attention or additional help and you will want other parents to be understanding and accomodate her. Sometimes Annie will get more than she deserves and sometimes she’ll get less, but I believe that over a lifetime, everything evens out.
Glad you re-thought calling a toddler an a-hole. An a-hole kid would have dragged Annie under the water, pulled her braids, called her names, or otherwise tortured her. This “trouble-maker” simply sounds like a very energetic toddler boy, who is too young to really understand that his actions are disruptive to the class and potentially unsafe.
There is a disruptive child in EVERY toddler class; it does not matter if it’s swimming lessons or storytime at the library. How much disruption a child causes depends on the instructor (or parent if it’s a toddler-parent class).
And, do not be surprised when one day your child is the disruption!
Well as the parent of a kid “like that.” believe me….you have a cake walk coming to you compared to the life the “a-hole’s” mom has ahead of her! She/we KNOW it’s an issue, we KNOW we’re a PITA, we KNOW……! However, we continue to “put it out there,” hope against hope that the planets may align and our child will fit in and things will go smoothly. We choose our battles. The behavior you saw at the pool may have been golden compare to what the boy dishes out at home. Just like your grief, moms of kids “like that” have a constant grief and feelings of hypervigilance that never ends.
Again, as a parent in that situation…the very best thing that can be done is to just be nice! Acknowledge the child, offer a hand and most of all, enough with “the look.” It isn’t helpful!
As the mom of a child with invisible disabilities, I am sure that lots of people think my kid is the “a-hole” too. He is impulsive, doesn’t understand risk/danger and lives life according to his emotions. He is also brain damaged from a rare disorder and has Pediatric Post Traumatic Stress issues from his DOZENS of hospitalizations in his 4 years on this planet. But you’d never know by looking at him, you might just think he is a difficult boy, but swim lessons are EXACTLY the thing that an impulsive, risk-taking little guy needs. I understand your frustration, but this kind of thing happens in most all group, young-child activities. If you prefer that Annie get the optimal amount of knowledge out of swim lessons, maybe private lessons are better suited for your family. Not everyone has the best behaved kids in the world, though my first born sure was, and many of us moms are kind of mortified that you singled out this little guy and that you don’t seem to have (or at least your entry doesn’t show) much compassion.
Perhaps if your child is a disruption or has trouble focusing and needs the full attention of the instructor may be the ones who need the private lessons, not a child who is capable of being in a group setting with out a problem. If I PAID for a swim lesson and my child was following the rules and well-behaved I would be upset if she did not get the proper instruction
I am afraid I have to agree with Shelley, and this from one that has worked with special needs individuals for years. Yes, such children can benefit from such classes but dominating them at the detriment to others is not cool. Any parent or supporter of such child should recognize this and make the move to find a more accommodating class.
Being the ‘irritating child’ is not a great label or feeling for a kid and obviously some adjustments need to be made by the parents/caregivers. Being in an environment where one feels accepted, appreciated and is having fun is ideal, for all kids.
Jen K. says:
My son has autism, so that is my perspective for my comments. I appreciate that you think of him as the a-hole at first blush, but then realize that it is inappropriate to actually call him that. Having a son with autism has made me re-evaluate how I react when I see a kid misbehaving in public. I try to give the parent the benefit of the doubt and assume that there is something more going on. (There is nothing wore than getting the stink-eye at Target when my kid is is acting out, and people just assume he is a spoiled brat). I don’t enroll my kid in group lessons for precisely the reason you discuss (taking up all the attention of the instructor) and pay ridiculous amounts of money for private lessons.
If he does in fact have issues, it may be that the parents are in denial that something other than toddler misbehavior is going on. And even if they know about the issues, talking to the parent is not the way to go, nor bringing it up at the lesson, in my opinion. I would talk with the director of the program and suggest that an additional instructor/aide is needed for the class based on this behavior. Our public rec programs do precisely this for kids with disability (accomodating them by providing extra staffing). Or, if that won’t resolve it, the director can be the one to approach the parent and suggest another class for the kid.
Thank you, you said what I was going to say.
As an educator, I’d say absolutely bring up your concerns about what your child’s experience is like, if you feel they’re not getting something important out of it.
As a parent, I’d say that many parents of toddlers with developmental issues who already know it’s a problem would have taken steps to work around it, so clearly these parents are hoping their child will “grow out of it”. One can hope that this experience may have changed their mind, or it may not. Either way, I’d bring this up with the director. They need and want to know what works and doesn’t in this kind of programs, and if adding an auxiliary instructor is the ticket, they want to know there’s a need for it.
As the mother of a son with autism, (and my major is Early Childhood Education)….. I would bet anything that this child has special needs. Please show compassion, and know that Annie will be in classes with children with special needs for the rest of her life. Now might be an optimum time to teach each other patience and compassion. I know you are a loving husband and father, but frankly, this post made me a little sad. I thought us parents were all in this “club” together to encourage and give support to one another. Just because the child didn’t look disabled, doesn’t mean that he wasn’t. Swimming away and under water for long amounts of times/disorientation was probably sensory overload. Perhaps these long swims made his little body feel good. Maybe he was scared. THere are a lot of possibilities here and I don’t think misbehaving is one of them. I wish I could give that little guy a hug. Come on Mike, rethink your position! You’re better than this! Still love ya!
My comment applies to swimming lessons only, not raising a child to deal with disruptions. I am a previous swim instructor, and my favorite class was always the beginners. I loved the transition from “no way” to “I think this will be fun”. Once that hits, it’s always a positive experience for the child (and first time adults). I have no experience with ocean living, coming from the Midwest, but I feel water is water. I think it was right to let it go this time, because Annie was having fun. Concentrate on Annie’s experience with the water and let that be the guide. Down the road, it might require a different facility, a different class, or a different instructor.
Swimming lessons are very much a baby step process. If it takes an extra class because of a disruption, then let it. No harm done. Any money spent on classes is an investment in saving a life one day even if you are not a lifeguard. In the end, extra classes will benefit everybody. There is no rush of 1-2-3 then get in the pool and swim like a fish. Let it be, and enjoy the water. It is a magical place, and it seems that Annie has already found that.
I agree with previous comments on the class being beneficial to the disruptive kid. Another way to look at it is that people come into our lives for many reasons, call it Karma. Most likely to help us or to let us help them. With extra lessons, someday Annie may be able to help someone in the water and that is a magical gift.
I’m glad Annie had fun anyway! Other than that, I’ll keep my mouth shut.
We had similar issues. We ended up springing for private lessons and it was TOTALLY worth it. The one-on-one attention was SO MUCH better!
There will be many more children like him that will disrupt Annie from learning something. It’s frustrating, but if you listen to your instincts you will know when to say something and when not to. You both seem like great parents, you will do fine! : )
I think you need to leave it to the instructor to handle. My 4 yo was in swimming a few times this summer and the first class he was a right royal pain in the butt…he was always all over the teacher and in his face. You would think my child never got any attention at home! Anyways, the instructor was very nice and patient with my son, but I think the instructor needed to get “angry”(firm) with him and set him in his place. I didn’t interfere during the lessons because I felt it would be stepping on the instructors toes. I talked to my son before and after each class about proper behavior to no avail. The instructor managed to carry on the lessons with this annoying kid always on his back or in his face. My son is otherwise a pretty well behaved kid, there was just something about this class/instructor that he felt he could act this way without consequences….and he did! I think if it really bothers you, you should approach the instructor and they can deal with it how they see fit.
My kid? Big trouble-maker. During her swim lessons this summer, she spent 3 days totally fine and mostly paying attention (she needed a little extra attention, but mainly because she was the youngest kid in the class). Then on the 4th day, she cried. Pulled a full-blown tantrum that came out of nowhere (3 minutes prior, she talked about how much she loved swim lessons and couldn’t wait to go in the pool). After 10 minutes wasted outside of the pool of a 30-minute class, the teacher actually got out of the pool and pulled her in (she would not go in on her own like previous classes). I was mortified that she needed the extra attention, and I’m beyond grateful that the other parents mostly looked at me with sympathy and not anger.
I can’t speak for all parents of trouble kids, but from my experience, we feel bad that your kid is not getting as much personalized attention too. You’re absolutely right that it’s not fair to your child. Everyone’s said it already, but it’s such a grey area, and each situation is completely unique for when to intervene. I agree with others that going to the teacher/person in charge vs. directly confronting the parent is probably better. From personal experiences (as both the parent and the kid), the confrontation has the potential to be much more anger-filled when it is parent-to-parent, where as I would expect it to be much more diplomatic and geared toward problem solving when it is teacher-to-parent. Rightfully so, because the parent of the child who is being wronged wants to advocate so strongly on the child’s behalf. But it’s more likely that the parent of the offending child will be slightly less defensive if there’s no anger or resentment built up behind the words.
Candice Walker says:
You need to say something. If you are paying for a service, then you expect that service to be completed. It’s unfair to the teacher and the other children if this child can’t behave properly. If the parent is so hell-bent on socializing their child, then they need to realize the imapct their child is having on others, and choose a more appropriate venue to do it in.
I had a similar situation in my daughter’s gymnastics class, and my husband and I were clear with the owner and instructors that our children should not be put at risk because of the behaviour of another child, whether it be because the child is having challenges or they are just poorly managed at home. Sometimes paying extra for one on one instruction is what those children need.
I’m sorry, but I have got to disagree with you here…Obviously, what that little guy needs to learn is some social skills, how to follow instructions, and how to take turns. All of that is best taught in a group lesson, not one on one. It saddens me to read so many hurtful comments about innocent children whose parents are only trying to do what’s best for them
My first kid was the a-hole (love him to death, but it’s true). He’s now grown and I have 2 more little ones who are easy. Having experience on both sides, now when there’s a problem child I just sit back and thank God it’s not my kid! Like one of the other comments said, there will always be at least one kid in Annie’s class, on her team, etc., who requires more attention. Rather than worry about your child getting less attention, I’d just be happy she needs less.
I literally laughed out loud when I read your post (especially about being thankful that a problem child isn’t your kid!). I completely understand how you feel too. I have an 8yr old and almost 6 yr old. My son, the 8 yr old can be very difficult at times (not in a bad behavior way, just more needy I suppose). Last year during swimming lessons they were placed in two different classes, but at the same time, same pool. I watched as my daughter played and did exactly as her instructor asked. Then I watched at the other end of the pool… my oldest… being held the ENTIRE TIME by the teacher. So embarrassing. And yes, because of this the other kids may have gotten less attention than they otherwise would have. I felt terrible. But he needed those swim lessons. He needed that time in the pool just as much if not more than the other kids. This summer he swam so much better! There are always going to be kids in Annie’s classes or teams that require a little more attention and maybe at one point or another it may be her. As long as its nothing behavioral or endangering to Annie, I’d just let it be.
I just want to second this: “Rather than worry about your child getting less attention, I’d just be happy she needs less.”
Obviously, if Annie isn’t getting what she needs you have every right to step in. But as a former teacher, I was taught that each kid comes to school with a bucket and based on their family/brain development/ whatever factors each kid’s bucket is filled to different levels. Some kids come with a bucket that is almost full (think lots of home training) and others have less. Rather than think about giving each kid the exact same treatment, I needed to focus on filling each kids bucket to the level they needed. In other words, what is fair is not always what is equal.
Thankfully, Annie’s bucket is getting filled quite a bit at home.
Jay- The Dude of the House says:
I’ve seen situations like that at many different places we’ve taken the Little Dude. To me the A-Hole usually isn’t the kid, but rather the parent who ignores their child’s totally inappropriate behavior and lets them disrupt the class/playground/meal without doing anything about it or considering anyone else in the vicinity.
My thoughts exactly
My daughter just started her first full week of Kindergarten this week. I asked her if she knew any of the other kids names yet and she said there was ONE boy she knew, and his name was Dominic. She knows his name because, according to her, he gets in trouble EVERY DAY. He spit at her and pushed her, and the list goes on and on. I imagine her teacher probably spends most of her time each day focusing on keeping Dominic under control. If my daughter ever comes home and says that Dominic hurt her, you better believe I’m going to take it up with the school.
I want to point out that if Annie was acting out in a situation like this and another parent went home and called her an a-hole on their blog, I think you’d find it to be pretty upsetting — even if she wasn’t being identified by name/face. He’s THREE. Acting out is a developmentally appropriate part of being a two/three year old, and if it’s not hurting your kid or disrupting their enjoyment of the class, the best response is empathy.
This is tricky. The child might really have issues, even though the parents are doing their best at home.
My oldest daughter was “perfect.” She was independent and unbelievably verbal from the start. In her 3 year old preschool classroom she would hang out with her teachers and help wipe noses and tie kids’ shoes (yep, fully tying shoe laces by age 3) and write the names of classmates on their papers to help out the teacher’s aide. She would choose broccoli over icecream any day, would never misbehave in a group setting. My husband and I quietly judged parents of other kids who were loud, unruly, had focus issues, etc…
Then we had more kids.
Both of my boys might have acted just like the little guy in Annie’s class did when they were 2 or 3. The older one, because he’s autistic. The younger one? Just.Pure.Naughty. (But still an awesome little guy.) Kids are just different, and sometimes it doesn’t matter what the parents do. If these kids had to be banished from every group setting, they would never be able to participate in anything. It does stink for the kids in the group who are not acting out, but it can still be an important lesson for them. There will be “that kid” in every class they’re ever in. (And later on “that adult”, right?) Use it as a teachable moment when you can, and be thankful that your kid was behaving.
And, don’t judge! “That kid” might be Annie’s future little brother!!! hehe
Lots of good advice from people. We have noticed the places we have taken our girls (dance, swim) are not afraid to either pull kids from the water and use a time out and if that fails, get a parent involved. In dance they send the kid out to the parent. Most of the parents then chastise their kids.
I would try to find a place where they are more like that. Then you don’t have to worry about intervening. Not that I am against speaking to the instructor, but you also want an instructor who isn’t afraid of speaking to the unruly child’s parent. I think a lot of people are worried about offending when face to face (but not so much on the internet).
Then when it’s Annie’s turn to be disruptive (as my daughter was in dance this past weekend)-you get to be like me-speak with your child and I apologized to the parent who children she was antagonizing.
I wonder if you could have suggested he be in a different group with less children? Perhaps he just needs 2 children in his group instead of 3-4. It wasn’t fair for Annie’s time to be disrupted. You are right, though, about the child needing the experience so he can improve his behavior. I hope the instructors spoke to his parents about it. So many children can have behavioral issues related to problems strangers know nothing about. For example, my daughter has a heart defect. Since more and more children are living with serious heart defects now, even into their 30’s and 40’s, more information is coming out about behavioral issues in children who have had heart surgery. They theorize these surgeries, where they are often on bypass for quite some time, may affect the brain and they are seeing a lot of learning problems and behavorial issues, such as ADHD. It could also be a side effect of their medication. So far, we haven’t seen any sign of problems with our daughter, who is almost 4 and has had three surgeries.
Do you have any articles about this? Our daughter was in the NICU for 14 weeks at birth and she is very high energy (age 4 now) and I am starting to worry how school is going to go for her.
Here is one article. It was in “The Wall Street Journal” recently. My husband and I just read it again and laughed because the doctor quoted in the article, Dr. Marino, was one of the pediatric cardiologists who cared for our daughter during her third heart surgery last month! Such a small world. We didn’t notice that the first time we read it! He was a good doctor.
Here is another good one.
This one is good, too. My daughter has HLHS. Towards the end they discuss cognitive issues.
Here is another one. This site is only the abstract, but if you wanted to read it, I could email it to you.
This one is also just an abstract, but I have the article.
I thought this one was good.
Here is another abstract. I have the article, though.
Was your daughter premature?
If you haven’t already, you could get her a developmental evaluation. I would definitely talk to her pediatrican about it. Hope this helps!
Thanks. She was a 25 week preemie. No surgeries though but was on oxygen a long time. That last article is interesting. On my list for this school year is to get her evaluated by our school district since she’ll be in kindergarten next year. She definitely is high-energy and has impulse control issues, which makes group classes extra fun!
Vickie Couturier says:
as a mother an grandmother ,I would have said something after the class was over,maybe this kid needs his own instructor,,I know you hate to make waves but believe me you will be doing this a lot over the next 16yrs,,
I don’t want to be snarky or mean but I have to point out that this post makes you sound very much like you think your child is perfect and this other kid is “bad” (or, an a-hole as you said). As others have pointed out, you have no idea if there was something else going on that was causing the child to act the way he did. Or maybe he just hates swimming.
Although I completely understand your frustrations in that his behavior took away from Annie’s instructional time, this was probably a good time for Annie to learn other life lessons like patience and empathy. In fact, it sounds like she handled the situation very well.
Take it easy on these other seemingly less than perfect children. I’m sure Annie will have her days and then you will be glad that other parents aren’t criticizing her behind her back.
I don’t think Annie is perfect, she definitely has her days when she acts up and behaves poorly (and I’ve blogged about that here before). This post was meant to discuss the tough situation of trying to balance A) the desire to include the child who is being disruptive so that he or she can develop and learn, with the desire not to have my kid’s development affected. We didn’t say anything at the pool despite this behavior continuing for eight classes because we put “A” over “B.” I’m just not sure if that can always be the case though – at some point a parent would have to speak up, I think. Not at this young age, but later on, especially if the child is being harmful to others. As for the “a-hole kid” part of the post I regret putting that in. I was trying to be funny and it fell flat.
Hi Mike, I definitely see now the point you were trying to make. The balance of “A” over “B” is definitely a struggle. I just felt bad for the little guy.
Erica….did you think for a moment to feel bad for Annie ?
I think this might be a universal problem. We just finished two swim sessions for our gal, and in each one there were 1 or 2 kids like the kid you described out of the group of 4-5. What was most annoying to me was that the kids’ parents just seemed so aloof, too busy socializing with each other to notice that their kid was such a distraction and taking away from the other kids. At the risk of being a helicopter parent, I was quick to step up on the rare occasion to remind our daughter to listen to the instructor. I wish others did the same.
It’s easy to assume the kid is just not listening, but it’s equally feasible that this child has special needs. Mainstreaming spec-ed kids is critical to their social development AND teaching neuro typical kids like Annie that patience is part of compassion.
That being said, if your child isn’t getting adequate supervision or education during a lesson because another child is using a lot of the instructors time, it wouldn’t be inappropriate to go to the office/lifeguard and explain that there is a child in the class that seems to require an extra set of hands, you’d hate to see any child excluded and maybe they would consider adding a second instructor to the toddler aged group.
My oldest has some special needs. While she is awesome as a 10 year old, as a 3 year old I was in a tough spot. Single mom, raising a 3 year old and an 18 month old while dealing with the ramifications of just leaving an abusive marriage. I know people judged in those few months when I was clearly overwhelmed. My oldest required a little extra attention in day care, swimming, etc. After a few months of the single mom gig, I had the awareness to speak to instructors ahead of time to make sure she wasn’t taking from another child… not everyone feels they have a ‘right’ to do that.
When you feel the need to step in, just remember that this (hypothetical) kid is not bad. This kid might be around “bad” and might be around abuse, neglect, drugs, or could just be needing extra attention. Sending Annie to lessons, sports and school isn’t just about education in academics or sports… sometimes it’s a lesson in being a compassionate friend.
I have four girls (8,6,4,1) and I learned a year or so ago that I am their advocate. I’m not here to make life easier or more comfortable for other kids and their parents. That mother was watching and saw the distraction he was causing. A considerate parent would have reacted and made sure their child wasn’t “hogging” the teachers attention.
That being said, I don’t freak out every time something doesn’t go our way. But, if my gut tells me it isn’t right I politely call attention to it.
You are awesome parents and are clearly raising Annie well.
Much love to all of you!
Agree with this post. My daughter was “that kid” at swimming lessons when she was 3. I immediately made her leave the water and come sit next to me. Was it difficult? Oh yeah. Did she throw a tantrum. You bet. Of course I was mortified. This happened the following week as well, but by the third week, my daughter understood what was expected of her during swim class. I don’t want empathy from other parents when she misbehaves.
I want them to be reassured that when my child acts up or is rambunctious , as her mother, I’m on top of it and will not let her behavior take away from the learning of experience of others. It’s not fair to other parents or children to sit back and do nothing when your child is disruptive.
In return,we (husband and I) expect the same courtesy from other parents, and have no problem voicing our concerns to the instructor when needed.
Annie is going to be swimming like a fish in no time at all, despite the disruptions.
I’m glad you rethought your label of this child. A child that small rarely has any idea how their behavior is affecting others, and that’s a neurotypical child. If he’s not neurotypical (on the spectrum, or suffering from ADHD), then he definitely doesn’t know that’s not appropriate, or knows but can’t help it. I’m surprised the parents did not intervene at all. If it were my child, I would obviously have a safety concern about him trying to go underwater when he can’t yet swim. I’m surprised the parents actually sat back and let some of that stuff happen. That said, I echo the advice that it’s not your job to address the problem to the parent, it’s the administration’s.
I’ve worked in classrooms with difficult children. Believe me, we know that the one kid or two are going to have specific issues that will impact what other children are learning. In those cases, most times the teachers try the best they can, but there’s only so much you can do. You really can’t legally remove children from educational situations unless they’re a danger to others.
How do I know? The last time I dealt with a child who was truly out of control (In a rage, he tried to kick me in the abdomen while I was visibly pregnant! With intent! The instructor who intervened and shielded me from the kicks later asked him why he did that. He said “she made me mad and I wanted to hurt her”. I wouldn’t even call that type of kid an a-hole, btw), it still took weeks of documentation of several violent acts towards staff and students alike before the director of the program had enough evidence to ask the parents to either (a) own up to the problem and get the child evaluated for EB issues or (b) find a different program for their child.
If I were in the shoes of the instructor, this is what I would want to happen: I would want you to raise your valid concern with me. I would then explain that I can’t really do much but what I’m already doing to keep a lid on the situation. I’d cordially invite you to bring up those concerns to the director. I probably already talked about it with him or her, but my word on it is not enough to take action. Perhaps if you mentioned it too, then the director will have the corroboration needed to bring it up with the parents in question, or decide that auxiliary staff is the first step to control the problem.
Annalisa~what you said about the parents not stepping was something I wondered about too. If my child was seriously underwater for such long periods of time, you’d better believe I’d be over at the side of the pool–especially if s/he got injured as Mike mentioned here. This makes me wonder if his parents were even the ones who brought him to swim lessons: maybe it was an au pair or babysitter who also didn’t feel as though she had the right to step in.
I don’t know, I think most au pairs/sitters I have known would not hesitate stepping in when a child was that rambunctious.
I don’t want to judge the guardian(s) of the child, regardless of who it was, but the more I think about it, the more I have to wonder if they didn’t have an expectation that “well, it’s the instructor’s responsibility now”, which yeah, technically it is, but if the instructor was struggling that visibly, I’d still say that parent, au pair or other companion, it would have been high time to step in at that moment: what if the instructor was busy with another child at that very moment, and did not notice the child in question? Moreover, how long was it before the instructor did notice? Was the child unconscious before the lifeguard retrieved him? Did the parental/responsibility unit at least come retrieve their child then?
Socialization issues or not, if he was that reckless at that point, that would be a time to step back and think “maybe we should wait a year before we do this”.
This makes me so sad.
My son is probably that a-hole. At six, through no fault of his own, or his parents, he has some emotional issues that cause him to behave in a way comparable to the boy in your post.
I live in fear every time we go to karate, or soccer, or the park, or to a restaurant, because I worry that people will be thinking my son is an a-hole or I’m a bad parent. I want to scream at the people who stare, tell them about the IEP he has at school, what the fifteen doctors he’s been to say, how I cry every night because I am afraid that his friends parents will never want him over at their house.
If your child is in danger, by all means, take action. But take a moment and consider how lucky you are that your child is “normal.”
Amy Collen says:
Hugs, Marie!! From another special needs mom to you. I know all about those damn IEP’s!!! Just know that there are a lot of parents who are aware of special needs kiddos and don’t judge, I am definitely one of them. People are always going to have their opinions on things whether they are right or wrong. You are doing the best you can and our job as moms is harder. You are not alone!!!
I am also not a fan of calling a 3 year old an a-hole. The parents, maybe, but definitely not a little kid.
I normally wouldn’t even comment on a post but this one has me a bit upset. I have two very active little boys. They don’t have special needs but they are incredibly busy. They both would have been swimming away from that instructor. Not because they don’t listen or aren’t considerate children, but because they were excited to be in the pool and they would have been bored waiting for their turns too.
Be grateful that you have an “easy” child, for now, who is content to sit and listen. Be sympathetic to parents who have children who have children who need that much more because, if I have learned anything, what I might not be dealing with today, I will be dealing with tomorrow.
There have been a lot of good comments about empathy and not judging but what jumped out at me with this is that there was a very real SAFETY issue with this little boy. Yes, Annie and the other child were listening and behaving but they are also toddlers and therefore impulsive and impetuous themselves (see: my almost 3 year old). Yes, knowing how to swim strongly and safely is hugely important but every second that the instructor had to disengage from the group to corral the little guy was an eternity for a tragedy to occur.
Your options? Completely up to you and Heather of course but to my mind safety trumps empathy every. single. time. The potential consequences of choosing otherwise are catastrophic.
I totally relate. My oldest daughter is Annie’s age and she has been overshadowed by little kids- usually rambunctious boys. Even my best friend’s son. I haven’t yet said anything but in her gymnastics class this year I absolutely will if I think she is being put in danger. Danger is probably my line. Like, if Annie was less safe bc of that boy- say something. Otherwise just change her class politely. My good friend struggles w her son’s behavior and he totally came out of the womb a handful… Bless her heart…
Two of my kids are angels but one is definitely tough. I’ve been his advocate since he turned 2, going to specialists and getting him the services that he needs before he hits school age. I look at how far he has come and I am simply amazed. I look at how far he has to go and it makes me sad but I know he’ll get there. It is an hourly struggle in my house. I’ve read every book under the sun, gone to seminars, done behavior plans, changed diets, seen multiple doctors/specialists, and removed every type of possible allergen in his room. I do my absolute best but I do have fears every time we go somewhere. I know I am judged. I know that he is judged. It makes me want to cry.
He is a kid just like every other- a very good kid, I might add, but he has very poor impulse control and has very high energy. He deserves to have some compassion. I know that he is the kid that I need to be within 5 feet of at all times or his behavior can quickly get inappropriate. Unfortunately, with 2 siblings, that isn’t always possible. On two different occasions I watched as other adults forcefully yelled at him and it absolutely broke my heart. I enroll him in classes and I pray that each time we attend that it goes well. Most of the time it goes well, but when it goes wrong… it goes waaay wrong. It used to be the opposite, though, so I remind myself (and him) of how far he has come. I always give the instructor a heads up so that they know what to expect and that it is okay to give him a time-out.
I am jealous of my friends that have “easy” kids. They have no idea what it is like in my shoes. As someone mentioned above, there is a grief that comes along with having a difficult child and we live it every day. I love him to the moon and back. He’s made me a better parent and, more importantly, a better person.
As for the swim class, one of the classes that my son was in was difficult for the instructor b/c she had two squirrely kids. She got an aide and broke the class into two and it went much better- for all kids involved. It is okay to be a concerned parent and it’s okay to make suggestions.
Much love to you and Heather.
Amy Collen says:
This post was one that touched a nerve in me too and made me sad. We had swim lessons this summer also and my older son had a difficult time not only with being special needs but he was also very scared of the water. So, maybe this was a distraction for other kids or took time away. Most of the time though he held on to the side and kicked. In all honesty swim lessons for little kids in groups is chaotic anyway and I think most would benefit from one on one. I know my younger son loved the Parent and me class and got a lot out of it. As for the child being special needs I think that there should be accommodations made such as an extra aide (or letting the parent be with them). I also can really understand what Marie is saying too. It can be hard for us as special needs parents simply because we have a lot more to deal with. So, you were right in not talking to the parent but yes a conversation with the director would be beneficial. They should hire more aides. The kid is not a little a-hole though, that’s the Father Bear in you talking :).
I got that the “a-hole” was supposed to be funny. I have never thought that my kids were perfect, but I do think that a lot of kids could use a lot more discipline. This is kind of your introduction to what’s to come-it is really hard at times. My kid got bit on the forehead (completely unprovoked, she was sitting by me, 18 months) by an older kid at a portrait studio. The parents were mortified-she had a “rough” older brother, they said. What the heck do you do with that??? My oldest was hit by a boy in 2nd grade-we promptly met with the counselor at school and the situation was handled beautifully. There are difficult kids (and adults) out there, and you will have to deal with them and their parents. There’s always one in the classroom, one in dance, etc. I agree with other posters who said count your blessings that it isn’t your child. My mother had a lot of trouble with my older brother and I remember her telling me how humiliating it was to sit through a teacher conference and hear how terrible your kid is. My suggestion is that if Annie is happy socializing and playing, you are fine. If you want her to learn to swim, private lessons is the only way to avoid the distractions of other children.
I think saying something would have been inappropriate unless the instructor was actually putting Annie in danger. If the instructor felt that this one child was taking up too much time, was too disobedient, or required too many resources, then that instructor could have told the parent that the child was not welcome in the class or that the way the class was designed was not suitable for his needs; it appears that the instructor never had that conversation with the parents, so she must have felt she could handle it. If you put your child in a group lesson setting then you know that sometimes your kid may be the needy kid, and sometimes, your kid may not get as much attention–it sounds like this class wasn’t a “competitive swimming class” but more to get kids comfortable with the water and for them to have a bit of fun, so there were no real “benchmarks of progress” Annie was missing out on because of the lack of extra attention. If for example, they told you that by the end of the class, Annie would have mastered two types of swimming strokes and she had not mastered them because the instructor did not have the opportunity to teach both of them due to the diversion in attention created by the boy, then perhaps it would be time to discuss it in a circumspect manner.
All the pictures definitely look like Annie was having a good time, like you said!
I had a similar situation in a class my kid was in. What got on my last nerve was the mother of the disruptive child spent the whole time with her nose in her phone texting. If your child is disrupting the whole class then by all means acknowledge it! Get up! Pull your child aside! Make a plan with the teacher to help so she isn’t spending the whole time on your kid! I sat there so annoyed with the situation shooting dagger looks at the Mom. Well, finally something snapped and she got involved!! The kid was still disruptive, but seemed to get better and I was much
more understanding. I went from nearly asking for my
money back to being supportive of the mother and the kid. I guess what I am trying to say is the “understanding” goes both ways for us parents.
This post was timely, as my husband usually takes my four-year-old to swim class and I took him last night. I sent my husband a text saying “that other kid in class is a pain in the a–.” The kid does not listen, jumps in and out of the pool, etc. The entire time his dad was on his phone, not paying attention to what was going on. If my kid were not listening and acted up, I would be the one to intervene. The interesting thing is that in his Monday class, there is a child with Autism who gets off task at times, but his father steps in when needed. Some parents are more in tune with their kids’ needs and behavior than others…
Trust your instincts. This time, you watched closely and held back. That will probably be what you’ll do most of the time. But I have no doubt that you will know right away when Annie is unsafe and you will act.
I admire your maturity and reasons for not complaining. Very generous of you.
Not happy with you calling that kid an a-hole, especially since you said you changed your mind about it but put it in anyway. What if that were your child and some other parent called her an a-hole? Like others in the comments, I have a son with autism who, especially at the pool, looks like he is horribly behaved, when in reality, behavior has nothing to do with it. Please be more aware that lots of children have developmental special needs that aren’t as obvious as physical needs. We have enough issues to deal with without the disapproval of other parents.
Sigh…I love your blog. I read it daily. However, right now words cannot even come close to explaining how hurtful this post is. I actually have tears in my eyes as I type this, but I’m going to get it out…
Ok, I’m pretty sure that your first sentence was just a joke, right? But at some point, you did think of that poor, innocent child as an a-hole. And even if you didn’t, you still came home from swimming lessons and dedicated an entire blog entry to him, pretty much calling him the “bad” kid and inviting your blog audience to do the same. This is someone’s baby you are talking about! Despite his behaviors or struggles, he is someone’s child and this blog entry about him is just hurtful. I tried reading through the comments, but I had to stop b/c many of them are just too hurtful and you can surely tell, by the comments, which of us have had the pleasure (and there’s no sarcasm here!) of raising a difficult child and which have only dealt with what the world considers as “perfect”. Listen, my son has epilepsy. It went untreated for a while b/c we thought his seizures were temper tantrums. He didn’t get diagnosed until after his first grand mal seizure when he was almost 3 and it still took over 18 months for them to find the right medication to stop the seizures. It affected his speech. It affected his behavior. He had (and still has) sensory issues b/c of his neurological condition. HOWEVER, he looks ABSOLUTELY NORMAL on the outside. So that obviously gives people the right to judge him (and his parents). The looks parents would give me at the park were SO hurtful! I actually watched parents grab their kids and leave the park b/c my baby was wanting to play with the other kids but he didn’t quite know how to play appropriately. We left storytime at the library many times b/c I didn’t feel we were welcome b/c he was too loud and busy. It didn’t matter that he LOVED story time and that’s just the way that HE showed it…he was disruptive and didn’t fit in with the “perfect” children. See, I was only trying to socialize him and TEACH him to play appropriately with other kids (I never let him hurt anyone else’s child and I was always RIGHT there. He just didn’t play correctly ie follow rules). I eventually had to find a special needs mommy group b/c it was the only group that accepted him. Most parents will know that children model the behaviors of other children. You WANT to have special needs children or children with learning delays around typically developing children. This is why you will find out soon enough that there WILL ALWAYS be disruptive children in Annie’s classroom b/c there is a such thing called INCLUSION. These kids do not need to be shut out. I hate to read that people still feel this way (one on one classes for the a-hole kid? nice). I work for a gym and alongside the swim coach. Her employees for youth swim lessons are trained to work with groups of 2-3. They are trained to deal with the unruly child or children. I bet in Annie’s first class, they taught her the safety of the steps and the wall. And to stay there until instructed to move. It’s a safety precaution b/c no one person can hold on to 3 wet, wiggly children at once no matter if all 3 of them are angels! Accidents can and will happen. If you feel that Annie is not getting the attention she deserves in swim class, I suggest you get her in private lessons, not the other way around. That little guy needs to be in class with his peers. He needs to learn socialization. He needs to learn to wait his turn. He needs to learn to listen and not be disruptive. Obviously, from your post, Annie already knows ALL of this so why not get her private lessons?
I could go on and on b/c I imagine my son may have made some appearances on a few blogs. Maybe even a facebook status or two (or a hundred!). Imagine if the shoe was on the other foot? Imagine if Annie was the one jumping off the step?? In fact, if memory serves me well, I do remember Heather saying that Annie slowly snuck off the step once and ended up going to far and the instructor had to save her. It could easily be YOUR child that’s the disruptance and someone ends up going home and writing an entire blog entry up about your child acting like an a-hole. Please, I beg you, open your eyes and know that not all kids are created equal. You have no idea how much that little boys mom probably wished she was in your shoes. Count your blessings because you never know the cards you are going to be dealt in the future.
And all of this is coming from a mom of the sweetest 5 yr old little boy who has overcome SO MANY obstacles, yet he still comes home and tells me “Everybody laughs at me” b/c his speech is still not where it should be at his age thanks to the epilepsy. The world is already a cruel place, so please do us a favor and teach Annie to treat EVERYONE with kindness and respect, no matter how they may behave.
Did you really just say this to the Spohrs?
“You have no idea how much that little boys mom probably wished she was in your shoes. Count your blessings because you never know the cards you are going to be dealt in the future.”
If that little boy’s mom was in their shoes she would have a dead child instead of a living one. I’m sure the Spohrs wish they could be in HER shoes. And they don’t need to be told to count their blessings. They’ve already been dealt enough crappy cards to get that lesson.
Ok, yeah…wow. You TOTALLY read into that entirely the wrong way. ENTIRELY. I honestly don’t see how you could pull that out of what I typed here. You took that completely out of context. It had absolutely NOTHING to do with what they have already been through, so please do not go there.
It wasn’t any more out of context than your whole response to his post was. You made it about your kid… I mean, I’m sorry for what you’ve gone through… but connecting your experiences and this pool story is a stretch.
Ok. I could go on but I already see where it’s going and it’s not worth it to me. Be blessed.
where it’s going? you just wrote paragraphs about how hurtful this post was to you, but you can’t acknowledge how hurtful your words might also be?
I understood and appreciated your comment Nia. Thank you for posting it. (and agreed that it’s not worth responding to the individual below, who did take your comments out of context.) Good luck with your little guy. Sounds like he has come a long way already!
So you take Mike’s post out of context and say how hurtful it was, but you saying that mother might wish she was in their shoes can’t be called hurtful because it’s out of context?! Really?!
That was probably the most self-absorbed post I’ve ever read.
Regardless of why the kid was swimming off and causing a distraction, I don’t think it would have been wrong to ask the director if they could add a second instructor or request that the parent join their child to help keep them safe. You know the pool staff wouldn’t want anything bad to happen during lessons, I think they would be glad to listen to your concerns!
Another mom of the “a-hole” kid here. I am a really, really good mom, but my son has sensory issues and behavioral challenges stemming from that. I can’t tell you how mortifying it is to be the mom who has the child misbehaving and causing disruption to the class, especially when you know the other parents are thinking your kid is an a-hole and wishing you would just pull your kid from the class and disappear. My son was disruptive in swim class when we first started, but now he does great and loves it. I know you want Annie to have the best, but the reality is that she lives in a world with many, many different types of people. This probably won’t be the last time where she has to share space and a teacher’s attention with a special needs child. Be glad your child doesn’t have any major issues and you don’t have to know what it’s like to be on the other side of the fence.
Kids’ swim classes, at this age, are always chaos. Always. You can hope for the best, but if there’s one instructor and multiple kids, it’s just plain hard. There’s a lot of waiting-around time. Even if each kid gets equal time with the instructor, they still sit around a lot. (Or goof around a lot, if they’re too little to sit.) This boy may have been rowdy but you can’t expect too much. If you want serious swim instruction, you need private lessons.
As for future situations….you figure them out as you go. There’s no magic formula.
i know a lot of kids who misbehave and they do NOT have sensory/adhd/epilepsy, etc… they are just undisciplined. odds are that this is usually the case.
also, mike was joking. give a guy a break.
I am really surprised in how this lesson is formatted. At the Y, children sit on the wall until it is there turn to work one on one with the instructor, espeically if they are just starting. Also, if we have a child that doesnt listen, the deck supervisor comes over to help – aka keep the kid on the wall. That way no one loses swim time. You should mention something to the instructor or the supervisor – its not safe for anyone to have a child like that in the class without someone else to look after them.
I would’ve had to say something. The fact that I was paying for a service where some kid was taking up all of the attention of the instructor would’ve been too much for me. The sob stories posted here? Too much. Odds are the kid was a spoiled beat whose mom needed a break and wanted to work on her tan at the same time. I would’ve been mortified if either of my sons acted like that and would not have brought them back. It is absurd to me that I have to put up with other peoples rude, “unsocialized” brats in public situations. I am one of those moms who leaves the park, library or other social situations because of other children behaving like animals. Some of you need to get over yourselfs, spank your kids and stop expecting the world to deal with awful behavior. You are doing them a disservice. The world is an unkind place, as you can tell by my bluntness, and not everyone is sympathetic or interested in your child.
Hmmm…when we are young it is called rude and unsocialized. When we are adults we call it blunt. Intriguing.
Teresa- I can only hope your kids are nicer than you are. YIKES.
Regardless of this child’s need for socialization, for whatever reason, my main concern is that these behaviors are taking place in the water. It is less of a “getting my money’s worth” and more of a safety issue. Some children do better in group lessons, others one-to-one. This child should be working with an instruction one-to-one to be sure that everyone is safe. There is absoutely no reason why a lifeguard should have to pull a child to safety in the middle of a swimming lesson, this leads me to believe that there is no way the instructor can handle this group of children. I can absolutely appreciate (and applaud) these parents for trying to help their child adjust socially and develop good social skills within a group, the pool is just not the place to do it, it’s just too dangerous. How about the park? a playdate? Just not the water where he seems to need much more supervison and support than a teenage swim instructor can give him in a group of very young, very inexperienced swimmers.
The only reason I could see the parents would pick a swimming pool to do this is that their child loves the water. Come to think of it too, perhaps that was exactly the problem. The child was maybe a little too fascinated with floating away to listen to the instructor. All that this says is that regardless of his interest in the water, he’s just not ready to work on learning to swim without a more structured setting.
At two years old the lesson in the swimming pool should be water safety, not empathy. My priority is to keep my kid safe. If a parent is watching their child misbehave from the sidelines IN WATER then they are not doing their job AND they are putting my kid at risk. The best thing to do in this situation is to talk to the pool director and ask for a class assistant. You won’t be the first person who asks, and certainly not the last.
As for the other issue, here’s the thing…in life we DO come across a-holes! In the past seven years as a parent I have seen plenty of parents just sit back and ignore their kid’s behavior (especially when they are on someone else’s dime at the time). Once at a play area in the mall a little boy looked around, targeted my daughter (2 years old at the time) as his victim, and walked up to her and kicked her square in the @ss. She wasn’t anywhere near him and certainly not bothering him! I waited for the dad to say something and he didn’t. So I did. He said, ‘what am I supposed to do, I have 9 kids!’ How about don’t take 9 kids to the mall and maybe keep them home to teach them how to behave.
The kid was a little a-hole, but I can’t blame him. He was being raised by one. Who I’m pretty sure also started out as a little a-hole. The bottom line is, it may not be nice to call a kid an a-hole, but the truth is we are going to come across plenty of them in life!
I’m a teacher. I work with and teach special needs students who are included in my regular ed classroom on a daily basis. Empathy – I get it. However, they PAID for this class- and it is toddlers in the water. If Annie isn’t safe – or isn’t getting what she needs from it, then it is a parent’s job to speak up. Come on. You’re really just going to sit on the side and let your toddler be unattended to in a pool so you don’t hurt some kid’s/ parent’s feelings?? I would have been annoyed with the situation too. YOUR kid is your first priority…enough with the politically correct BS. You want your children to have the best experiences possible. When they’re this little, its your job to intervene.
After rearing 3 kids who have done every type of lesson under the sun (music, swim, art, soccer, dance, karate, fencing, etc.) I have learned that it is best to preview or observe a class before enrolling and paying any money for it. Also, the best classes have been recommended by other parents. As you have probably realized, not every class or lesson is created equal.
I really hope the next time Annie is acting out in a grocery store someone calls her a-hole loud enough for you to hear it. You don’t know the circumstances of that boy or his parents. Maybe HE just lost a little brother / sister and is acting out because of it? Maybe he is ill? Or maybe he is, you know, THREE YEARS OLD! Jeez.
…And maybe you’re a little out of line.
Mike explained that he started out thinking of the kid as “the little a-hole”, but went back on it and thought “well, it’s not the kid that is doing something wrong, it’s the whole situation that is making me uncomfortable”.
The issue Mike was thinking about is not that the kid was acting out (he was, that’s undeniable) or why he was acting out. The issue was “how does one as a parent address that, when you’re not the instructor, or the parent of the child in question, without stepping on any toes?”.
Was it nice to use the term “a-hole”? No.
But give him some credit for having realized that right off the bat.
sister sister says:
Maybe the mother didn’t take him out because with his determined actions he definitely needed to learn how to swim (in case he has a pool nearby he could possibly slip into unnoticed).
I think you handled the situation pretty well. If they were “Paid-for” lessons though I think I may ask the instructor for a couple extra minutes working with the 2 kids who were shorted on time a little bit.
Trust me, as someone who has taught probably over 1,000 kids to swim, it was just as fustrating for the teacher as it was for you! It stinks to have a kid constantly siwmming off and knowing you can’t teach the others as well as you want to. On one hand, it’s great that the kids was so confident. On the other hand- he needs a healthy sense of respect for the water.
I think you were fine the first time but the next time, you might want to ask about changing classes, stressing that you think the teacher is great and you know how hard it is to have to constantly be running after one kid, but could they change Annie to another class so she can get the instruction time she needs?
Meg McG says:
The real important issue is that Annie needs to re-take that class so that she can be safe around water. I’d ask for a discount on a re-take and hope the boy’s parents don’t bring him around any bodies of water until he gets some fundamentals down.
Get used to it; it gets worse.
I’m a little behind on reading my fave blogs, so I am just seeing this. I am surprised by this post, because I am almost always 100% in agreement with how you and Heather think. And I am always jumping to defend you, Mike, even when you piss people off here! But, this time, I feel defensive and a little upset, yet can still see your point about only wanting the best for Annie and wondering when it is appropriate to say something to a supervisor regarding another child in a class that she is in. I don’t know the answer though….
It isn’t fair for one child to take away from everyone else’s time, in a swim lesson or in school. But, unfortunately life isn’t fair, and the fact is that children with special needs and even those that are just spirited and high energy will always be there, in every lesson and activity and class. And really, shouldn’t they be? Just because they are more of a handful, their parents shouldn’t have to keep their children home, right? Especially since, like most of your other readers pointed out, the children (special needs or not) that are a little more high maintenance often benefit by socializing and learning appropriate behavior from other kids.
My older son is “spirited”. He is a great kid, and listens and does what his teacher tells him, ALMOST all of the time. But at times he can become so enthusiastic about whatever sport he is playing that he can become a nuisance. I try not to be a helicopter mom, but I will intervene or re-direct if he is ever taking away from the other kids’ experience. So I think I was a little defensive of this little boy because I could see a little of mine in him. And even though you didn’t officially call him an a-hole, just reading that you thought about it hurt my heart a little. Also, I have to say that at times it feels like I can’t win. If I do nothing, I am a crappy mom who doesn’t care that my kid is hogging the coach’s attention. If I jump in, I see eye rolls, and even the coach will tell me that it’s ok, and that I don’t need to intervene and that my son will catch on. So it’s hard to know what to do as the “problem” child’s parent too.
I also have to point out that you and Heather are public figures due to the popularity of this blog. My kids took swim lessons at CLU this summer too, and we saw you guys and adorable Annie there. Even my little guy recognized her from all your hilarious videos (that they make me replay over and over). Sorry if that creeps you out, but you are celebs in this house. Anyway, when I read this post, I couldn’t help wondering how mortified I would have been if I was this little boy’s mother, and recognized Annie his swim lessons, only to read this post about my baby. Omg. I really hope she is not one of your loyal followers.
One last thing and then I will end my novel of a comment. When my son was 2, he loved swim lessons, and was a perfect little student. When we came back when he was 3, he was so overly exuberant that he wouldn’t stop going under water and doing the “ice cream scooper” arms, inadvertently splashing other kids. The teachers were great at re-directing his enthusiasm and encouraging him to swim but also to listen and participate in the lesson the right way…. I just wanted to point out that there is a VERY big difference between 2 years old and 3 years old. I hope that next summer if Annie is then the “bad” student who requires much more attention than the other students, that all the rest of the parents (and the swim instructors) are understanding and patient with her, because it would be a shame otherwise.
Still love you guys, you just hit a nerve with me this time.
I am in a similar situation in dance class. The “problem” child is not an a-hole, but she is not developmentally ready for the class. Most of the girls are 3 and 4 years old. The disruptive child is 2 years old. Last class, she wailed for half hour because of separation from mom. She spent the next half hour running around the class. When it was other children’s turn for instruction, she was running and jumping in front of them. The parents are discouraged from entering the classroom. The teacher is supposed to handle the discipline. However, I totally felt like my child was losing out in attention and instruction, because of the 2 year old. I wish the parent would have stepped in. I hope this child does not return to class. I believe she is not developmentally ready to take turns and follow teacher instructions. However, I got the feeling that the mom thought it was cute that she was running amuck. I would love to say something to the dance studio management, but how can they turn a child away?
I came across this post because of a situation that arose with my daughter and her friend who are also friends of ours. It’s interesting to read the comments and different people views. I 100% agree that this is not something parents should be hashing out on their own. Our daughter is “spirited” and her tantrums are not something we ever thought a child of ours would do (we all think we know how to parent a well behaved child until we get one that isn’t). We fully acknowledge that she is not the best listener and does have moments where she cannot calm down and constructively channel her feelings (let alone listen to us or an swim instructor). We had a recent situation where she made it to the last 10 minutes of class before she became uncontrollable and ended up running around the parameter of the pool (it’s an indoor pool that is for handicapped so the water is very shallow, less than 2 1/2′ at the deepest I’d say). Leading up to that point she was having fun and doing great, not perfect but what toddler is perfect. When she was running however we knew instantly going after her would cause her to feel even more anxious, run faster and raise the likelihood of her falling and becoming seriously injured. My husband grabbed her once the instructor had a hold of her and took her out in the hall. We of course immediately talked about the danger she put herself and her friend in and bring up daily why it’s vital to listen to the teacher. Our friends communicated to us their concern over our daughters behavior and how it compromised their daughters safety. I’m still unclear as to whether they thought we waited too long to grab her but the real challenge is that even though we are all good friends this situation was incredibly difficult to communicate. Looking back it makes complete and total sense that we needed to talk to the instructor about how she felt about the situation, when parents should intervene and whether our daughter should be able to stay in swim class. I would never ever be ok with my child jeopardizing the safety of another (especially not one that I consider a second daughter in a lot of ways). In the heat of the moment we did what we felt best for everyone, not just ourselves. We did speak to the instructor and feel much more clear as to what she expects from parents and what she feels confidant in handling as far as safety is concerned.
I would like to say that there are plenty of parents who are oblivious to their child’s behavior. We all see it and it is frustrating. But not all misbehaved kids have disconnected parents who don’t care. We research and actively try to figure out ways to better channel her intense amount of emotions that she seems to have no way of controlling. Some things have worked, others don’t, and just when we think we have hit a turning point something new comes up. It is an exhausting battle and one that we hope others recognize we are doing are best in figuring out.