|Hartly & David 2012|
|Having fun with Hart in ocean|
|Papi having fun in pool Hart|
|The Barnetts 1978 (L-R Mike, Abby, Baby Carrie, Mom Jinky, Tony, Cat Stella, Dog Shirley, Dad Robert)|
I can't speak as an expert for ISR, but I can speak as an expert for our experience with Hartly and with our experience with David. I truly believe in the ISR method but I think that the instructor is equally as important.
A little bit about our experience with ISR:
If you do not read about ISR or see any DVD or hear any explanations about the method it can be scary and seem quite horrible. Almost all the little babies cry during their lessons. Many of them cry the whole entire time. This is not a Mommy and me class. It is not about being held and bounced around and being sung to in the water. This is a 1:1 ten minute lesson everyday, 5 days a week, to teach your child what to do in case of an emergency. This is a class that could save your child's life if, God forbid, there is ever an accident. In a matter of months (depends on child and illnesses, teething etc), a small baby can and does learn how to roll over onto their back (in the majority of accidents where children fall into the water, they land face down) and they learn how to float for a number of minutes crying out (giving them time for an adult to come to their aid). In fact the crying in class can actually be good and helpful. The crying helps David know when they take a breath in to help in the teaching of them rolling/flipping onto their backs. The crying is also helpful because in case of a real emergency, you are going to want your child to scream or cry out so you are alerted to them and their situation.
Another word about crying. As a new mother or parent you learn within the first few weeks or months a lot about crying. There are many different cries. The cry that most babies do during ISR class is a complaining type cry. Babies can't yet talk so crying is their way of communicating. In class they are communicating that they really would rather not work their little bodies so hard. It is a lot of hard physical and mental work to learn how to roll over in the water and to learn how to balance and float. This is not easy. But they are very capable. And almost all of the children stop crying once David picks them up and gives them breaks snuggling in his arms... But that is about David...
|David and Baby Hartly ~ 7 months old|
A little bit about our experience with David:
|reaching for David for class|
David gives children a gift that many kids do not receive until they are much older, if ever. He gives them the gift of believing in them. David trusts them. He knows they can do it. Babies are very needy and very dependent on adults. We do everything for them. Mothers and Fathers stand watch and are often so nervous and fearful for their baby (quite normal). Some parents get to the point where David has to ask them to leave (because the parent getting upset causes more stress on the baby). I myself decided a couple times to excuse myself because I didn't want Hart to see me getting emotional (and David will tell you, Hart rarely cried and never too hard or for too long). But it is hard to watch your child upset. And we, as parents aren't even confident in what our wee little ones can do. David is, often I would guess, the first person that lets a child know that they are separate from us grown-ups and that they have skills to take care of themselves. This is a gift that far exceeds the physical life-saving lesson of rolling or floating (because, hopefully, none of these kids will ever need to actually use what they are taught as far as in an emergency situation).
How it works schedule-wise:
A baby can begin learning the rolling and floating sequence as young as 6 months.
|learning how to float|
Hartly started ISR classes with David when he was 7 months old and he took about 4-5 months to graduate from phase one. I believe he was around 11 or 12 months when he graduated (I don't recall exactly). Hart was teething a lot during this time and when a baby is teething badly, swimming is halted (because ISR instructors are taught that teething takes a lot out of a child physically and that they need a lot of rest during this time and swim classes are counterproductive). Also, Hartly was a rare case in that, initially, he didn't cry at all. I think that this may have thrown David for a loop. It was hard to know when to roll him and it is also important for a child to cry some because while they can float a long time, they can't float indefinitely. The crying alerts people to a problem. Hartly never has never been a big cryer. He cries. He just doesn't cry a lot or often.
From Hart's 1st class at 7 months old until currently (he is 21 months), he has adored David.
Hart saw David everyday during the week from 7 months until almost a year, when he "graduated". Then Hart had 2 refresher sessions, spaced a few months apart, that lasted just a few weeks. Hart then went for almost 5 months without seeing David or being in the water at all.
In January we went to Puerto Rico to avoid the cold. Hartly was hesitant at first with the water. He was happy to wade in the baby pool but didn't want much to do with the big pool or ocean. He was a little timid and I did not push or encourage him but let him watch and observe. And I waited. It was so hard but I just talked about what people were doing and discussed that it looked like fun. I asked him if he wanted to try and when he said no I dropped it and didn't push him. I had fun in the water and we watched other kids and people splashing around. A few days in and Hartly decided he wanted to play in the water too. I was so glad I hadn't tried to talk him into it because he came around in his own time. I think if I had pushed it (which I was tempted because I love playing in the water), it would have only made him push back and he would not have had same internal pleasure and joy.
|enjoying the ocean|
NOTE: A few days into our trip in Puerto Rico, Hart fell face first while walking around in the baby pool. I was an arms length away. Before I could even react, his little arm shot up into the air and his whole big toddler self rolled over onto his back. It was the coolest thing and an amazing example of muscle memory and how ingrained David's and the ISR Method truly is. A few more times throughout our 5 weeks there, Hart tripped or went in the water over his head. Each time I was there but each time he also, automatically, shot his little arm up behind him and flipped his body over onto his back. I never tested if he was able to float. I always picked him up right away because I didn't want to scare him or discourage him if he had not been able to float. At any rate, while a couple of times this frightened him and he cried a little, a few other times he went right back to playing without missing a beat. What was crazy fascinating to me was that here is a 19 month old who has not been in the water or had a lesson in over 5 months!! (one fourth his life) and his body reacted and remembered what he had been taught months before. It was just so satisfying and cool to witness.
As soon as we returned from Puerto Rico we started right back in with the swimming. As I mentioned, it had been months and I was a little nervous because Hart could now walk and talk and I did not know how he was going to react to being forced to work hard in the water everyday. I braced myself the first day back...
|Hart and David|
|Getting a high-five from David|
Most recently Hart wanted to make a painting for David. He wanted it blue, like "blue pool" he swims in with David. After his painting had dried and glitter and fish stickers had been added, I suggested we write something to David. Hartly said, "Yes". I wish I had recorded the following, but I remember it pretty well:
Me: "What do you want to say to David?"
Me: "We should put his name on the picture?"
Me: "Ok. What else? Do you want to thank him for teaching you how to swim?"
Me: "Ok. Well, tell me what words I should write."
Hartly: "Thank you."
Me: "Ok. Anything else?"
Hartly: (thinking) Pause. Pause. Pause. "Love you!!!"
Me: "You want me to write Love you to David?"
Me: "Anything else?"
Hartly: "Read it."
Me: "You want me to read to you what I wrote?"
Me: "David - Thank you. Love you. Are you done or do you want to add more?
Hartly: "More Thank you."
Me: "You want me to write thank you again?"
Me: "Ok. Anything else?"
Me: "You want me to write swimming on it?"
Hartly: "Yes.(pause) Hartly."
Me: "I should put your name on it so he knows who it is from?"
Hartly: "Yes. (pause) Read it."
Me: "David - Thank you. Love you. Thank you. Swimming. Hartly."
Hartly said it better than I ever could!
|Hart with painting, David coaching background|