Some of the children and a lot of the adults that come for swimming lessons have a water confidence issue which quite often manifests itself with them being out and out scared to get into a swimming pool. This is invariably due to some sort of bad - often near drowning - experience.
As someone who has been confident in water and completely in love with swimming for as long as I can recall, it is difficult for me to empathise. However, I do know something about childhood trauma.
Yesterday I (purposely) ate a pea for the first time in over 20 years! I know very brave of me wasn't it. So here's the thing: whenever I wrongly think that I have some money, I like to eat out (don't we all?). & on the rare occasions that this happens, there are three places that I tend to spend my money. Itsu who sells amazing Japanese food, Chipotle who do the best burritos or my local kebab house who do a mean chicken shish.
Yesterday I went to Itsu and ordered their Chicken Teriyaki Rice Potsu. Which is chargrilled chicken, teriyaki sauce, brown & wild rice & fresh greens and ginger in a pot. Like a slightly posh, tastier and healthier pot noodle.
Now unknown to me until I sat down ready to tuck into my meal, what they meant by fresh greens was pretty much peas (there were other things in there but it was mostly peas). There were literally hundreds and hundreds of them and if you haven't already grown suspicious, I hate peas!
So there I am faced with all these shiny green peas. I start to pick them out and I pick out the majority of them but there are just too many. What am I going to do? I could carry on attempting to pick out every single one? This seemed like a pretty good idea to me except that by the time I would have managed to do this my lovely food would be stone cold. I could return the food? I don't want to do this. I've already picked at it for the last 5 minutes and I'm not very good at returning food. Especially when there is actually nothing wrong with it (just me haha). Or I could simply suck it up and eat a few peas. What's the big deal?
Warning: if you are at all squeamish read on at your own digression.
When I was around 7 or 8 years of age I had a bad tooth. I developed a hole in one of my last remaining baby teeth and then underneath the tooth I got this big, swollen and very painful abscess. It was awful! But you're probably starting to wonder what this has got to do with peas? Well I'll tell you. One day the abscess burst! Squirting a thick green paste into my mouth that to my childhood mind tasted exactly like peas!
I don't know whether or not I liked peas up until that point? I've always eaten my vegetables but somewhat understandably I think, after that traumatic experience, I have never - knowingly - eaten a pea since.
So there I am in Itsu faced with a mountain of peas and a decision to make. I pick one up with my spork and put it into my mouth. I swallow the memory of the burst abscess and I start to chew the pea. It's OK. It doesn't taste too bad. It's not my favourite flavour - that would probably be rose flavoured Turkish delight - but it's edible. Then it hits me. I can't help it. I start to think about the tooth abscess, about the thick green pea flavoured paste and it makes me feel sick to the pit of my stomach. I can't do it. I can't eat peas!
But then I try again. I just need to get some pea confidence. It's the same as teaching people who are scared of the water. Then need water confidence. You wouldn't just throw them straight in at the deep end and hope that they don't drown. You get them to stand in the water, walk, splash water on their face. It can sometimes be a very slow process.
So I leave a few peas in the pot. Stir it all up and start to eat. The peas are in there somewhere but I can't see them and surrounded by all of the other lovely flavours, I can't taste them either. That's it, I think. I'm on the road to recovery. One day I will be able to eat peas - like 'normal" people - without any problems! :)
Ps. if you're scared of the water, get in touch! Maybe I can help?