seriously somewhat serious

The deep end

I don’t have many vivid memories of my life before I turned 5. There are some fuzzy bits here and there, like the times I used to engage in epic sword fights with my brother in the bedroom of my grandparents’ apartment. I remember going to McDonald’s a lot. And I think we used to watch this creepily bizarre show on tv where the characters would eat mice for fun. Clearly we weren’t big on censorship back in those days.

But there are a few moments that I remember with remarkable clarity.

We were at the beach and my dad brought me for a swim in the water. He had me in his arms and we were having a good time splashing around when for a brief moment, I went under the water. It was no more than a few seconds tops but those seconds felt like an eternity. I remember the burning in my throat as I swallowed mouthfuls of the salty sea water. I remember tasting the water and thinking that I’ve never tasted anything so salty and foul in my life. I remember how cold the water was. And most of all, I remember the awful, paralyzing terror of at the thought that I was going to drown.

Several years later, I eventually learnt how to swim but till this day, I hate the sea. I don’t care how clear and beautiful the water is. I hate how salty it tastes and I’m terrified that I’ll be attacked by horrible sea creatures.


Recently, we started the kids on swimming lessons. It started out fairly well, where they learnt how to blow bubbles and do the hand motion for the breast stroke. Then they progressed to swimming short distances without swimming aids. It was a really short distance like an arm’s length from the edge of the pool but they were supposed to do it on their own.

Kirsten took a deep breath and flailed her way to the edge. She got submerged, drank some water but she got out, rubbed her nose, smiled and was ready to go again.

Truett did the same thing but halfway in, he suddenly realized that he was all alone in the water and completely panicked. So when it was time for the next lap, he clung on to the instructor and refused to let go. She was all like “you’ve got to let go I’m holding you…” but Tru kept asking, “are you going to let go of me?” I think she was trying to motivate him with reverse psychology because she said “If you keep asking me, I’m going to really let go of you.” And she did. Just for a brief moment.

For 3 nights in a row after that, he woke up screaming in the middle of the night. The third night, I held him for almost 15 minutes while he cried and cried and cried uncontrollably. Finally, after he stopped, he said that he dreamt he was stuck in the water. Then in a quiet voice, he asked, “Can I stop swimming classes? I think I don’t want to go anymore.”

My inner tiger mom wanted to teach him to to face his fears like a man. I mean, tons of kids have learnt to swim that way – by getting thrown into the water. Besides, Kirsten is a year younger and she’s doing fine.

But I saw the very same look of terror in his eyes and all of a sudden, I remembered exactly how it felt to be terrified of drowning as a kid. So we held him and told him it was ok if he wanted to stop his swimming lessons. We would pick them up again when he’s ready to give it another go.

Truett swimming

Previous Post Next Post

You Might Also Like


  • Reply Adorra May 14, 2013 at 8:55 pm

    Aww, poor Tru. I hope he is feeling better. I think it is good that kids learn how to swim from young – I never learnt how to swim and till today, I don’t even dare to go to those olympic pools? I am forever at the 1m pool and I am always envious of little ones who can swim without aid. I am sure he will pick it up again when he is ready. :)
    Adorra´s last post ..Calzona, you and I.

    • Reply Daphne May 15, 2013 at 8:13 pm

      He actually really loves the water. I think for now we’ll just let him splash around with the floats and hopefully he’ll be ready to give it another shot soon!

  • Reply Corsage @ A Dollop Of Me May 15, 2013 at 12:05 am

    Those 3 nights must have been terrible for you. I hope he will regain his enjoyment of swimming again soon.

    I can understand the sort of fear he must be facing. Development of phobias is quite common at this age, because of lack of full knowledge and a overly fertile imagination. Bubs is going through a phase now with some bad phobias too. I am trying to educate myself more about this to help her cope!
    Corsage @ A Dollop Of Me´s last post ..Kitchen Exploits: Mother’s Day Red Velvet Cake

    • Reply Daphne May 15, 2013 at 8:17 pm

      Oh no poor bubs!! Hope she’s doing better.

      Thankfully Tru’s nightmares went away after we said he could stop the lessons and we’ll slowly reintroduce the pool again.

  • Reply Elizabeth May 15, 2013 at 1:36 am

    Am glad you didn’t heed the voice of the inner tiger mom! I’m sure someday, when he is ready, he’ll take to the water again! I can’t imagine those three terrible nights for him and it must have been traumatic for you too huh!
    Elizabeth´s last post ..Of cars and big dreams at the Volkswagen Family Weekend

    • Reply Daphne May 15, 2013 at 8:20 pm

      He rarely gets nightmares so we were quite sad to see him sobbing in the middle of the night. We even tried offering all his favorite treats but nothing worked so we just held him as he cried. But he’s doing ok now :)

  • Reply Eileen May 15, 2013 at 11:50 am

    Hey Daph
    I hv almost the same experience, but its instructor asking my son to stop instead, and come back when he’s more ready ;(

    • Reply Daphne May 15, 2013 at 8:21 pm

      Ya I think sometimes they just need to take some time off and it’ll be better when they’re ready to deal with the phobia.

  • Reply Debs May 15, 2013 at 7:24 pm

    I remember that TV show too! I wasn’t really allowed to watch it but I remember briefly seeing the bit with eating live mice and also, one of the characters (accompanied by mice) made a regular cameo on Sesame Street in a counting segment that ended with a dude carrying cream pies falling down the stairs.

    I gotta say, that’s a horrible thing that the swim instructor did. Poor little guy.

    • Reply Daphne May 15, 2013 at 8:22 pm

      OMG I had no idea the character appeared on Sesame Street too! I loved Sesame Street as a kid and now that you mention it, I remember the dude with the cream pies falling down the stairs but not the mice bit haha.

  • Reply SengkangBabies May 15, 2013 at 9:46 pm

    Poor boy, maybe u can ask coach how to “encourage” T ?

    On the other hand, please pay attention to K.
    To me, the most dangerous period is the phase after kids conquer their water-fear. Their new found confidence will embolden them to try different “stunts ” !

    My little girl was always trying to be funny, and leapt into the 1.2m water behind the coach’s back !
    SengkangBabies´s last post ..Navy Open House 2013

    • Reply Daphne May 17, 2013 at 2:42 pm

      Woah thanks for the heads up will definitely keep an eye on Kirsten to make sure she doesn’t try anything funny!

  • Reply Kit May 19, 2013 at 12:21 am

    Hi! First time to your blog :)

    The coach shouldn’t have let him go, poor guy. I know how it feels coz my son slipped and lost his footing in the pool once. I pulled him up to the surface fast but those few moments gasping in the water left its mark.

    Since then, he had such a fear of drowning that we had to put off swimming lessons. We went for a beach holiday and he renewed his love for the water a couple of months later.

    3 months after the incident, he got all panicky and even refused to submerge his head.

    I was patient for a while but I realized how limiting his fear was. In the end, I held his face and got him to look at me and trust me. I told him that he was going to be OK because he could hold on to the grooves beside the pool

    Then, he agreed to take quick, shallow breathing exercises (about 20 times). I told him to relax and slow down. He took some time out and looked around at the other kids in the pool.

    Gradually, he acquired a rhythm to the breathing exercises and started to love the water again. I said a silent prayer when he laughed and said, “This is fun!”

    This far, I’ve had to accompany him to 2 of his swimming sessions (lasting about an hour each) and recently, he told me that he could go on his own the next time.

    You can read about it here:

    Hope this helps Truett find his mojo again :)
    Kit´s last post ..Cold Milk for Kids?

  • Leave a Reply

    CommentLuv badge