Swim It Off

She was being especially difficult.

Starting from hour one of the day, she demanded her song be played over, and over, and over again. Until I actually felt my sanity begin to unravel. (This is not a soothing, calm feeling, btw.)

“I wonder if this will be the first Alexa device to refuse to repeat ‘Shake it off’ that one more time?”, I wondered.

She refused to get dressed for swim lessons. She procrastinated for an hour, whining about it.

She finally got dressed.

I discovered she was wearing the “pee suit” from yesterday (don’t ask).

She had to go change.

This took another hour. (It felt).

“I wear boots.”

Fine, whatever, don’t care. (There are only so many battles a person can fight in a day.)

She refused to go out to the car without one more “Shake it Off”.

I got out to the car to load the baby and discovered that she had put a booster seat IN the driver’s seat, BUCKLED HERSELF IN (which is hilarious because whenever I ask her to buckle herself, it’s always “I can’t”), and was refusing to move.


“I drive. You sit there.” She gestured to the passenger seat.

Um. No.

It took forever to talk her out of the driver’s seat. (But yes, I took a picture.)

She whined the whole way there that I didn’t have “Shake It Off” to play in the car.

We got to the pool and she refused to get out.

“Addison, COME ON.”

I was losing patience.

She finally got out. We started to walk to the pool. She wouldn’t walk with me.

She immediately ran to the concession stand to beg a free popsicle off the poor workers. (This worked for her once. Now she thinks that free popsicles as soon as she gets to the pool are her LIFE CALLING.)

I said no popsicles.

She said yes popsicles.

I said no.

She said yes.

This went on for a while until I had to drag her away from the concession stand. (With love. The Love Drag, it’s in all the parenting books look it up.)

While dragging her away, she stole someone’s goggles and then refused to give them back.

We finnnalllly got to the lesson spot. She refused to stand behind her class sign.

“Like a peasant? Who, MEEEE?”

No, she wanted to stand in the front and run the gig. QUEEN OF THE WORLD. When a swim teacher tried to redirect her behind the class, she collapsed and suddenly “couldn’t walk”. (such a tragedy)

I had to intervene, giving her my sternest threats. “If you don’t get behind that sign, I won’t play Shake It Off for you for the rest of the day.” She eyed me carefully, super ready to call my bluff.

She didn’t budge.

“I mean it, sister. No more Shake It Off….and…I’m going to take away your Lincoln Log and Book.” I reached for her ever present Log and book…ready to grab them away FOR ALL ETERNITY, while looking as mean as possible, glaring my very best “control the classroom the day before a holiday” teacher face that they teach you before setting you loose to student teach. It did the trick.

She defiantly stood behind her class sign, BUT cutting herself to the very front of the line.


She huffed and she puffed herself to the back of the line.

“Is she okay?” The other kids looked concerned. (And very, very scared as they caught wind of my teacher look)

“She’s fine. She’s just having a rough day. As we all do from time to time.” I explained calmly and rationally.

The other kids nodded understandingly as they parted to make way for the Popsicle-less, Shake It Off-deprived, No-Pee-Suit-Today girl to go stand TRAGICALLY in the back of the line. (“Such A Rough Life”, Title of her Autobiography)

But even though my words were calm, inside I was screaming, “WHHHHHYYYYYY. Why must she GET like this as soon as the schedule fluctuates? Why are summers SO HARD????”

I stared at her, standing in line, wishing I could understand her better. Wishing we spoke the same language. Wishing her preteen attitude mixed with her need for a school schedule mixed with her inability to totally communicate how she was feeling….would all just CHILL.

I was so tired. And frustrated. And just wanting her to be easy. JUST ONE TIME.

She followed her class to the pool, seemingly resigned to the fact that she was here.

She suddenly ran back to me, and I got ready for more battle.

But it turns out she just needed to wipe her face on the towel.

“I LOVE to swim!” She says, beaming. her attitude now very Pro-Swim Class. (Apparently, she took her own advice to just “Shake It Off.)

I returned her smile and collapsed onto the pool chair, DONE for the day. (It was 11:30am).

But then.

It was just a few minutes into class that it happened.

I stood up to go over and watch Eli, who was VERY PROUD of the fact that he was now swimming without a floaty.

“Yay, Eli!” I cheered. He turned to me, his face slick from the pool and shining with absolute pride.

“DId you SEE me? Did you see me SWIM?” He shouted.

“Yes, baby.”

And he returned back to work.

It was then that I noticed her.

Back behind Eli’s class was Addison’s class. And her class was doing some sort of huddled activity (which she was ignoring, of course). Instead, she was going from swim platform to swim platform, SWIMMING WITHOUT A FLOATY.


  1. We have been working ALL SUMMER to get her to swim without her floaty. (Like we have been at the pool more often than we’ve been home)

  2. She is almost too heavy for the floaty that works best for her so it’s super important that she masters this skill by the end of the summer or else next year we are in big trouble.

  3. EVERY SINGLE TIME she tries to swim, she does everything right, but she SINKS. Every single time.

BUT SHE WAS DOING IT. Granted, it wasn’t very far. BUT.

My breath caught in my throat and a tingly feeling of pure joy and awe spread across my chest. SHE WAS DOING IT.

She turned back and did it again.

I moved closer.

She did it again. Practicing, over and over to get her body floating just right in the water.

I held back tears.

This was a big, big, BIG step.

And it suddenly made all of the ridiculousness of the day seem worth it.

I don’t know what it is, but Addison accomplishments make the world go round. They are just SUCH A BIG FREAKING DEAL.

Maybe because we wait so long to get to them. Maybe because the lows are so low, it makes the highs seem amazingly HIGH.

Addison achievements are like a big eraser to undo every difficult moment.

I know she has a ways to go with her swimming still.

But today, watching her SWIM even that tiny distance made me deliriously happy.

Bad day and all.

Because she did it.

And at the end of the day, I am just so proud of her.

Was she being difficult?

Heck, yes.

She had her own agenda for today that she couldn’t communicate to me. I’m sure this was frustrating to her. She acted out accordingly, with a little pre-teen attitude flourish thrown in as the cherry on top of this behavior sundae.


She did a great job.

We got in the car and I ooohed and ahhed over her swimming, praising her up and down.

She pretended she didn’t know what I was talking about. Instead, she requested more Shake It Off.

I made her wait until we got home.

Because…..there’s only so much of that a person can listen to before their ears start to bleed.

But also…it turns out she Shook herself right into a little mini nap. Dreaming of Popsicles and Running Swim Camp, no doubt. I knew her behavior shouted, “SO TIRED!” Just took the right swim/lunch/dance party combo to convince her that Naps Are Not Evil.

She fell asleep clutching her Lincoln Log and Book.

Rough life, indeed.


Deanna Smith