Thursday, May 31, 2007

The Voice

Which is like a cross between Miss Long Island reading her shopping list and a goose honking by frantically after the rest of the V has taken off. And you can hear it here. It is, truly, worse than I thought. Like Meg already said here: "I imagined it a lot deeper." I'm going to smoke a few more cigars before the next taping session.

Last week's column is here.

I'm sorry to always be asking for advice, but does anyone know of a good resource (A book! What problem cannot be solved with a trusty book?) for kids who appear to be pathological nonswimmers? You know what I'm saying here? With the flailing and the dread and the torso craning itself out of the water? Thank you as always.

62 comments:

  1. Anonymous1:16 PM

    I don't have a book, but I suggest private lessons with a teacher who knows how to handle fearful kids. My son was very scared and had a teacher who was kind and soothing, but pushed him just the right amount. Really turned it around for him.

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  2. Don't be so hard on yourself! You sound like a friend.

    And for the swimming, yes, lessons, just a few days, will work wonders... they did for my daughter.

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  3. How fun! Are you going to be recording all of your columns now?

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  4. I want to comment at Wondertime, too, and I'm going to, I swear, although I always have such a time with the logging in and the password and the disappearance of paragraph breaks.

    Of course, the word verification features on blogger/typepad have tripped me up some days in a ridiculously long loop of try, try again, when I begin to doubt my very eyes. But at least that's after I've already put in the effort for a ridiculously long comment.

    Like this one.

    I, too, have heard that trying out different teachers and approaches can make a huge difference. With the caveat that it seems the teachers/approaches most successful with fearful kids also appear to be the teachers/approaches with the highest price tag attached.

    Also, great voice! Great!

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  5. Hey you don't sound bad at all. It does, though, sound like is recorded in a box over over the phone. But this was fun--thanks!

    You might have already read : "How to Raise Your Spirited Child" by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka. It's a good one. More about how to handle kids who are sensitive and energetic, than swimming in particular.

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  6. Chris2:13 PM

    I just wanted to tell you how much I enjoy your columns. And I enjoyed even more listening to you read it. I feel like we're sisters, or friends, or sometimes even the same person -- and I both envy and delight in your gift. Thank you for sharing your stories.

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  7. Isn't it funny how we feel about our voices when this strange medium we're in means that that is one of the last things we all know about each other? After meeting another blogger a few months ago, she wrote that she was surprised that my voice was high and light where she was expecting whiskey and cigarettes. I've always hated my voice, and so it hit home a little too much, although she did not mean it at all as an insult.

    What makes me laugh is realising that you have what I would call an "American accent". This should not surprise me, but it does, because I "hear" you read your columns all the time. Funny how that works.

    (Embarassingly, I say "eh" a lot more often than I write it.)

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  8. Tina G2:23 PM

    Catherine- that is SO not your voice- and let me also say that although there's nothing wrong with that voice- the one that actually comes out of your mouth is softer and has much more inflection! You were reading aloud- kind of like how I always sounded when I read to my 3rd graders after recess each day. Every time I hear myself on video- I think- "Oh no- not again, my voice isn't really like that, is it?" As far as swimming- I think there are classes for reluctant swimmers- kind of like the ones for those of us who hate to fly. Good luck!

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  9. anyababa2:32 PM

    Nope. Not a Betty Boop voice.

    Instead, totally normal. I agree with the other poster who described you as having "an American accent." Yup. The accent is just what I would've expected!

    But it is true that your voice is not as deep as I thought it would be. (Is this freaking you out having all of these people commenting on your voice? It would totally freak me out.) It's more motherly and a tiny bit more girlish than I expected(this is good!) and...I don't know...nice.

    Oddly, my own recorded voice is somewhat nasaly and high pitched, unlike what I hear in my own head: deep, smart and uber-clever sounding. I also sound like more like a girl than I would expect. Dang. That's what we get for being girls, I guess.

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  10. I love being able to hear your voice; like Jill said, you sound like a real person, a friend! And of course we know you are a delighted noodle despite everything. Me too!

    Kendra

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  11. Oh, come on now, I thought it was lovely. Of course, cold comfort coming from a woman who sounds like a fishwife, but still.
    When the Boy had his Fear of Dogs thing going on, they said the main thing was not to push it too much, but to slowly get him used to them. For swimming, I'd look for someone who specializes in water phobias, if that is indeed what you think it is. If it's just the typical little kid Fear of Swimming, I'd try a really good-with-kids teenager who'll do private lessons, plus some space. The Chica's girl went through that phase as recently as last year, and you couldn't get her out of the water now.
    xo

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  12. Shannon3:21 PM

    Loved this week's column, and especially loved hearing it in your own voice! I hate hearing myself, too - in my head, my voice is so much more commanding, deeper and mature - unlike my actual voice, which comes out a girlish mix of marcia brady and valley girl.

    As for the article itself, ah, worry... My mother is a worrier, and so are her three girls. We call it "preventative worrying" - the fretting that creates a protective bubble around our loved ones through sheer hand-wringing vigilance. My brother-in-law says Mom made us all scared ("skeered") of life in general. Not so, I maintain - we are just very cautious about physical dangers. We are the ones who won't venture past the "green" slopes, the only ones wearing our life jackets on the sight-seeing boat, etc. I was (and still am a little) terrified of the water. I hated swimming lessons, wouldn't put my face in the water, etc. For all her worrying, though, I did not get this fear from my mother. I would watch her, envious, as she did a perfect side-stroke through the pool. You cannot make your child unafraid. This is her own burden, one neither caused by nor remedied by you. You can, however, increase her positive water experiences - casual bathtimes and kiddie-pool swims, runs through the sprinkler, etc. And then teach her to swim in the kindest environment possible (something not found at the typical Y), with her learning the backstroke first (the face in or anywhere near the water is terrifying). I know - this is how I finally learned to swim (at age 20!) and how to love the water. The worrying, however, is here to stay!

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  13. I'm not sure if you've tried this, but it has worked wonders for us: goggles. We took lessons last summer and he wouldn't pass the most basic class because he was fearful of putting his face in the water. Right after the class was over, I got him some goggles and he would wear them in the tub. Now at the pool, he puts his face underwater, holds his breath and is so excited to take lessons this year. If they can see under the water (without the chlorine stinging their eyes) it helps calm them and the panic doesn't kick in. Just an idea. Also, they are just so cute. You can check mine out (with his bright PINK umbrella running through the sprinkler) here http://mommysinatimeout.blogspot.com/2007/05/hello-to-summer.html

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  14. I TRY to be a delighted noodle. Really I do. The closest I EVER come is with my son. But my boy is a cautious one. I would like to think it is by nature, but I worry that it is because I warn him to be careful too often. In reality I am glad he is careful - but like you, I worry that I make him too careful. Then there is his natural shyness, which he is only now starting to come out of at three. Can I look forward to an immobilized four year old? Now I am worried about that!!

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  15. Anonymous4:49 PM

    Hey Catherine- Goggles did the trick for one of my kids this past summer. He was 5 at the time and wouldn't let his head go under water. I attribute this fear to his mother, who is pathological about water. Anyway, I put goggles on him, told him to plug his nose and then just look under water without putting his whole head under. He demanded to go to the pool just about every day after that and can kind of swim underwater now, but he's not a very strong swimmer at all yet. He's got time. As long as he can swim before he leaves for college. The younger son, who was 3 last summer, is still not putting his head under water, even with goggles on. We'll see if he does any better this summer. Oh, yeah, one of the things I did with the older kid once he had goggles was tell him we'd go sit under water and count to 3 before coming up, which he liked a lot, too, and helped erase the fear.

    BTW, you should go as George Burns for Halloween next year-- you've got the voice down pat! Heehee, just kidding-- you sound completely normal and just like I thought you sounded. Except that I bet you don't enunciate so well in a conversation. I remember once when I was living away from my wife for the year because of work, I was going to read a book on tape for her as a way of staying connected or whatever. After reading the first page, I was so appalled at the sound of my voice that I recorded silence over it then broke the tape in half, unraveled it, and put it in the bottom of the trashcan to mitigate the possibility that anyone might ever hear it. Healthy, I know.

    BillyJoe5555

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  16. SO the verification word is eooot, which is much how I hear my own recorded voice, like it's shrieking EEEEEOOOOOOOT!!!! Really, I record an automated system for a very large company and I can't believe they pay me for it.

    Anyway, your voice is lovely and beautiful. What a wonderful touch to your column.

    eooot....

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  17. My voice is loud and braying and sounds distressingly like Daisy Duck, which is totally at odds, I am aware, with my sultry blogging persona.
    We decided a few summers back that The Girl just wasn't ready for swimming lessons yet - this year, she's enthusiastic and courageous about them, having grown out of that fearful age.

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  18. Vanessa6:08 PM

    At the risk of sounding "me too!" - I just have to give the big thumbs up to private swimming lessons. My son screeched and cried like we were sending him to his own execution when we did group lessons, but we found an amazing teacher who did private lessons last summer, and within the first half hour, my son transformed into Aqua Boy. Fanatical Aqua Boy. Now if the sun looks like it is even vaguely thinking about looking out from behind the clouds, my son begs us to take him to the pool.

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  19. Ummm... Me too. Swimming coach. My son still freaks out when he goes to the pool with me but as soon as SHE shows up he is a friggin' fish.

    Hmph!

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  20. There is a story by Amy Hest called "Make the Team, Baby Duck!" in hardcover and "You Can Swim, Baby Duck!" in paperback. Baby Duck is a generally contrary character and her grandfather is the encouraging family member you would always like your child to have in his or her life. The story is exactly the same in hardcover and paper -- just the title has changed and that probably reflects the fact that there are a lot of children whose parents are concerned that they do not take to swimming like a duck...

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  21. I commented over at Wondertime, but I just had to say again I loved hearing your voice. It was awesome and I agree with Sage you sound "American" a little like our family in Long Island actually!

    I'm sure my voice is all naggy and wifey, it is to my ears anyway.

    I agree with the other commenter's that private lessons are probably a good choice. We had to stop swimming lessons for our eldest at 2 due to severe ear infections. When we started up at 3 years she went crazy climbing up my body and out of the water.

    What worked for us was a trip to a hotel with a cool pool. She was sold in the non-threatening atmosphere of the pool. Might be worth a try to take her to a "fun" pool with sprayers and such. She might be more willing in a fun place.

    Love the audio posts, hope there are more.

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  22. I really don't know who likes the sound of their own voice played back. Your voice is just fine, though I was surprised I didn't detect a New England accent. It *was* like you were reading though, whereas when I 'read' you in my head, it sounds more like a natural conversation, if that makes sense. Nothing wrong with it, just not what I expected. It makes me think I should do this on my own blog just for the experience of it, so my kids can listen to it later (wow, mom sounded so YOUNG)

    I don't know what Wondertime's deal is with commenting (oy) but otherwise, I have to say I'm SO pleased with the magazine and the web site, they're really targeting my demographic I guess. I love their photos, I love the tone of the articles, the good stuff they put online, I love the first-person-ness of it all. I am glad they have you!

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  23. Anonymous12:01 AM

    Yeah, I also think you sound nice. You actually sound quite a bit like one of my favorite aunts, who, incidentally, writes comedy.

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  24. Catherine,
    I too would 100% recommend private swimming lessons (individual ones, if possible). I too was terrified of the water as a child, and did not learn to swim until I had private lessons. Later I became a swimming teacher myself and specialized in teaching kids who are afraid of the water. An empathetic teacher who understands this fear, rather than one who belittles it or makes fun of the child (and there are, unfortunately, a lot of people like that out there!) will make all the difference. Good luck -- be sure to tell us how it goes!

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  25. Anonymous8:18 AM

    My daughter was *terrified* of getting her face wet. What worked for us was a little positive peer pressure. We went to the pool almost every day last summer, and as she made friends there, she wanted to play with them when they were splashing. Good luck!

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  26. I am embarrassingly thrilled to be able to hear your voice, Catherine. It is almost like hearing the voice of god, as I have quoted your book much like people quote scripture. (I do this also with Barbara Kingsolver's Prodigal Summer, as the text constantly narrates bits of my life.) A reminder that someone you have slightly worshiped from afar is a real live human being with a real live voice. Kind of like the time, at the library conference, I got to meet Tamora Pierce, whose every published word I have cherished and loved, and I couldn't say anything to her but a polite, "Thank you" for signing my book. In the end, I am slightly exhilarated and shy about it. But thank you; it was such a treat!

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  27. Oh! I loved hearing your voice. It is so trippy after "hearing" your voice for years in my head as I read. I've heard you say Ben and Birdy's names hundreds of times in my head, and then suddenly you were really saying them, and I thought "Wow, that is perfect." It is odd that this medium is so personal. We know each other's hearts and stories, but we've never heard each other's voices.

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  28. Just today I heard two voices for the first time: yours, and I've been reading your writings for years; and another internet friend's who I've known for over 3 years out here in Online Land. It's a big step for us people who only know each other through our computers - revealing our voices. It seems like such an oddly personal thing even though realistically we know way more personal things about you than just what your voice sounds like. But it's important and I do think it's something I'm a little aware of - that I haven't shared my voice with a lot of my "internet" friends. Anyway, I'm happy to know what you sound like! So thanks for sharing your voice! I agree with the person who said you sound like a friend.

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  29. Anonymous3:05 PM

    Well, I've been hearing you with my Mississippi accent, I guess, because you sounded so Northern to me!! It was fun, though. I hate hearing myself on a recording, too. I sound like a little kid, like I can't wait to get through talking. I speak in monotone (which, in real life, I hope sounds more deadpan-funny than monotone--for some reason deadpan seems better to me and describes my personality a little better). Hearing you read the column, though, was more emotional for me. I almost burst into tears toward the end, even though I had already read the column once or twice.
    Keryn

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  30. Anonymous3:54 PM

    I was a bit disappointed with your reading. Not your actual voice (which is fine) but you seemed a little flat and like your heart wasn't in it. I love love love your writing - seems something is lost hearing it read aloud. Maybe it is just me... In general, I don't enjoy hearing things read out loud - seems a little affected and takes the intimacy and privacy out of the content. I almost sensed you feel the same way and that it came across in your delivery.

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  31. I was amazed that you didn't sound like the voice I hear in my head when I read your work. Then I realized that the voice I was hearing was my own, but the words were yours. It's really cool to finally put voice to words.

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  32. Anonymous10:20 PM

    Oy Catherine,

    No, I never did wonder what you sound like... but it only took me a few minutes to get used to it. THE VOICE is probably deeper than mine is on tape, if voice mail is any indication. Then again, I'm from New England, and all I could think was your phrasing was very NPR. I don't live there any more but I'm basically nostalgic for all things New England.

    Not to be mean, but -- are you proud of yourself? Another accomplishment, and while I certainly sympathize with all the worry, worry worry (it seems like more hearing it read) and then self-consciousness, you might be missing out on the fun of showing your kids that you have a great career and other people like your work, etc. Have they ever come to a reading? Ben is old enough, I'm sure, to learn that you are a rock star.

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  33. Well, actually, I already know what you sound like, because I checked "The Bitch in the House" on CD out of the library. Yeah, I too imagined it deeper, but I think it is a pleasant voice, waaaaay far away from LwongIland!
    PS, "I Do, Not" was excellent!

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  34. I'm from the UK so you sound so american to me, we hardly hear 'real' american voices, only tv programmes.

    The strange thing was I was going to post something similar on my blog, I was thinking about accents and how many blog friends I have who I have never heard their voice! I was going to record a small wav. file and ask others to do the same! You beat me to it! x

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  35. meredith3:59 PM

    my son has been the same way about swimming. we got hm private lessons last year and the teacher was not pushy enough, so he got nothing out of it. this year, we have him in a class with 3 other kids and a kind but firm teacher. the combo of peer pressure and the teachers refusal to hear "i can't! i want to go back to my mama!" has been working wonders.

    on another note, i am expecting my second child soon and am re-reading "waiting for birdy"...my copy of which you autographed at a book signing here in santa cruz a couple of years ago. :) anyway, my husband keeps looking over at me and saying "what now" because i am either laughing out loud or actually saying "yes! that's what it's like! totally!"

    people, you must get this book, and send it to everyone you know. it is the best. when are we getting another one???

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  36. Anonymous8:44 PM

    Catherine, you are just awesome. And I loved your voice. Of course, everyone hates their own. And I must tell you that your anxiety reminded me of going to the Freud museum in London and hearing a recording of Siggy's voice and just cracking up. The great paterfamilias of psychoanalysis sounded not like a booming Old Testament prophet as I'd imagined, but more like Woody Allen: nasal and high-pitched. Funny about voices.
    About the anxiety over kids' safety -- I think a balance between the more anxious spouse and the less anxious one is good. Everyone in my family (including me) tends to be a little too laid back, and my husband is the nervous nellie. I'm glad he's around to take up the slack! But also that I am, to help my husband loosen up. I think our kid does pretty well between the two. It sounds like your Michael is a little less anxious, so that's probably good.
    But really, I think you're a wonderful mom.

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  37. Anonymous9:01 PM

    I love, your voice and I love, \ your accent!!

    It is so cool to listen to you read your columns! What a great idea!!

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  38. I've followed your posts from babycenter to here and on wondertime. I love the reality of your experience. It's not presumptuous or haughty, rather it's the voice of a big sister. ;) As for swimming, we just returned a book to the library about a little girl who got an extra special swimsuit that changed colors when wet. (I'll try to find the title) So water was a huge incentive, even if it was the sprinklers. We have a friend that got a bath time doll then set up the children's infant tub in the backyard and made that Dolly's swimming pool. Then just used Dolly's adaptation to water and had the kids mimic it in a wading pool that summer. Hope it helps. All the best for a great New England Spring.

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  39. Hey Catherine- I have been reading your column since my 3 year old daughter was born, still view your blogs and your new Wondertime columns (and have never posted a comment). When we got pregnant with Liam 1 1/2 years ago, I thought it was the perfect time to read your book, so I ordered it from Barnes and waited for months for it to get in and loved every minute of it. You are such a lovely writer and person. I feel like I really know you, even though I have many "Mom" friends, whom I love, I feel like I know your heart more than I know theirs. Thank you for your writings that have always been the equivalent to me of curling up in a windowseat with a great cup of coffee. You truly love your children enough to honestly worry about what you may be messing up on. Keep up the great work of your obvious calling. I will be reading until these precious children are not children anymore, and I always remember the quote you once put in one of your columns "they are the sons and daughters of life's longing for itself". Hope you enjoyed reading my praise, God bless you richly.

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  40. I don't know of a book--but I DO know that I taught swimming for ages and ages. Sometimes kids learn to swim with someone else--private lessons with a sweet teacher might be a good way to go. You know, kindof like learning to drive with someone other than your white-knuckling right foot stamping the floor mat MOM :)

    Give it time too. I guess my rule of thumb (and I got this from YOU!) is they won't go to college (fill in the blank____ sleeping in your bed, sucking a pacifier, being a nonswimmer, etc) so don't worry!

    I'm enjoying your colums as always!

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  41. I'm a little passionate about swimming, and as a former swim coach of 10 years, I'd say something that probably hasn't crossed your mind . . . if you search out the age-group teams in your area, you might find that some of them have developmental programs that would be great for Ben . . . he's at a GREAT age for this, and these coaches/teachers are usually great with the kids. And seeing the other kids *really* swimming and being encouraged might do wonders. Or not. My advice, anyway, since we all dish it out so freely here!

    Oh, and if you do go for the goggles . . . get a good brand like Speedo hydrospex jr, or TYR youth flexframe . . . that are all one piece and you don't have a separate nose piece. They're the only ones I know of that don't leak on kids who aren't sure how to adjust them. . . the others are just POS's.

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  42. Oh, I forgot . . . if you go to usaswimming.org and then click "search for a club" on the left side of the page, it's the easiest way to find out what's available in your area.

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  43. "Katie Katz Makes a Splash" by Anne Rockwell - which I can not find on the internet. We checked it out of our local library...

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  44. That was really cool hearing you read your journal. And, weirdly enough, you sounded exactly as I imagined you to. You've always reminded me of a very dear friend of mine, both in appearance and parenting philosphy, and you actually speak like her too! Who knew? I liked hearing you say your kid's names too- when I read your journal I hear "Birdy" with an Australian accent, it sounds cuter the way you say it. :)

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  45. Anonymous3:41 PM

    Lessons are great - my kids are in semi-private, meaning the two of them share an instructor for 20 minutes once a week. A short time, but it works wonders. And don't despair - last summer, my then just-turned-3 son terrified of the water,just as you described. This year, something clicked - he loves the water and is a fierce swimmer.

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  46. I love hearing your voice! You sound different than I imagined, all these years, but also familiar. And you reminded me of Anne Lamott.

    What a cool feature- I hope you continue to do it!

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  47. I know of a really short board book, "D.W. All Wet" (with NO references to gas chambers).

    We read it many, many times.

    Also, what worked for my ds was "baby steps." OK--we're going into the first step of the pool. Next day, go down the second, etc. Took about 4 times going to the Y before he finally went in without a complete meltdown.

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  48. The day I stopped shaving my legs was the day I read about "female circumcision" in Reader's Digest. It was completely horrifying to me, to know something like that could exist in the world, and I wondered, how can women possibly do that to their little girls? Why? Then I began to question what things I did just for the sake of others, for what society expected rather than what was good for me or what I wanted to do. It was a big turning point for me and has probably affected how I raise my girls, but the most outward sign of it is the hairy legs. I hated shaving, hated getting cut, hated having to take the time each day or two to deal with it. I'm lucky to have light hair and once it grew out it's soft, so the hubby doesn't object. At the beginning of shorts season I always inwardly flinch a little, but most people don't even notice and those that do, well, they probably think I'm too weird and don't mention it.

    Ok, way TMI, but it can be done. There's even a support board for hairy gals on mothering.com, for real!! You can find anything on the internet. :)

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  49. I'm going through the swimming thing, too. It's kind of eerie sometimes how we seem to struggle with the same things at the same times. Rachel took lessons last summer and had fun, but this spring, she got spooked during a more advance set of lessons, and I finally ended up letting her quit. We'll try private lessons this summer, I think.

    I wrote about it here. http://agogandaghast.com/2007/04/16/mamas-afraid-of-fear-oh-my/
    Not a very good post, but kind of on the fear theme.

    A friend of a friend got bit by a rattlesnake a few weeks ago and was in a children's hospital for weeks. There are reasons why children develop fears of things like snakes and waters and such. Reasons that have nothing to do with their dear nervous nellie mothers.

    You have read Wemberly Worried? Yes? That's a fun one for the fearful stge.

    But generally, I think mother's are allowed to worry. It's kind of what nature tells us to do. I know there are always other mothers that seem so much more relaxed, so much less likely to have kids that end up in therapy, but I bet they are secretly afraid to let their children sleep with with pillows, or something odd like that.

    I can't remember my password for Wondertime commenting. Don't hate me. They still get my hits there.

    I love your voice. I heard it during your SF reading, and you were different than I had imagined, but in a good way, that was comforting and made sense.

    As for lecturing Ben, Hannah has started to have running conversations with herself or with Rachel when I get riled about something. This morning, she said to Rachel, "Mom's not really mad, right?" Rachel said, "Yes, Hannah she is." It was like I wasn't even there. But you are so right, we have so much power and sometimes it is so hard to be responsible with that. I don't think that's fair. I think they should make it easier for us.

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  50. Catherine,
    Once again, great post over at Wondertime~ I loved hearing you again. I have to say... this time it's MUCH more conversational. You're a natural! I am already used to your voice and now I hear it in my head while I'm reading. Thanks so much for sharing so well what we are all feeling!

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  51. I just read this week's column, about the cards, and the hair, and I am telling you here instead of there, because I the the Wondertime would ban me if I said, I'm actually crying right now because I feel that way every. fucking. day. So thank you. I don't know why it would make me feel better that someone else feels as bloody tortured about it as I do, but it does.
    xo, and I mean it.
    PK

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  52. I actually listened to this weeks column - kind of a feat since I hate sound coming from my computer and usually have it on mute. But I listened, and I was surprised. You sounded more sad than I had imagined. I'm not sure if 'sad' is entirely the correct word, but it was like an older sister or cousin reading me something quietly from under covers and by the glow of a flashlight. Even though it was new, I was left feeling nostalgic, touched and a little sad. My boys are only 3 yrs old and 10 months old - is it possible to feel nostalgic for the future? Maybe it is the pauses and sighs that come across and really make the connection for me that this is all an account of someone's very human experience.

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  53. I'm late to the party, but yes, I have an excellent book suggestion! "Freeing Your Child From Anxiety" by Chansky. It deals with all kinds of fears and worries and is quite helpful. Please do, however, skip over the portion of the chapter where they discuss styles of parenting that may (or may not) have contributed to the anxiety. That I could have done without, for obvious reasons!

    My DS (9) is a worrier. I think it just helped him to know that I was reading a whole book about other kids who feel like he does.

    Give it a try; it's really quite good. Best of luck, Catherine.

    Mom2Bean

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  54. My son was the same way with swimming--he'd flail and cry and scream and act as if we were commiting some capital offense if we even mentioned "swimming". Because I live in Washington State and we have a LOT of water here, I really needed for him to get over it. We finally did swim lessons, once a week, at the local pool. We did one session (5 weeks) of us in the water with him, then he was ready to go up to the next class without us. It helped that 1) he could touch the bottom and 2) he had a friend in the next class up, so he'd see him over there every week and I think his competitive spirit kicked in a bit. One thing I found ironic though--the next clas up was called "Starfish". I thought maybe they should be dolphins, or salmon, or something that actually SWIMS vs. something that lays on rocks on the bottom of the water....but I digress.

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  55. I wanted to suggest private lessons as well. Here in FL they are pricey but well worth the cost. I put my neurotic daughter in private lessons when she was three and now she's like a little dolphin at 5. We only had to do two rounds of private lessons and now she's in group lessons. She really needed a teacher she could bond with and who could focus only on her.
    Good luck

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  56. Loved the recording! I've always wondered what your voice sounded like, and now I know. Don't worry (ha) too much about Birdie. She'll grow out of it. It's probably just her way of testing her boundaries and knowing she's safe.

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  57. Catherine, I'm responding to your June 4 Wondertime column here because I can't seem to use the Wondertime comments section.

    I loved this column so, so much. It really hit home with me. My six year old does something that drives me to the very same behavior you described so beautifully. He gives me something we call "the teenager stinkeye". Basically, he rolls his eyes at me when I tell him something, which drives me batsh*t crazy. It is a huge pet peeve of mine, and also the chink in my parental armor. It brings out the worst in me, and I turn into my worst, witchy self.

    Just like the gift you gave Ben when you told him that everyone wants to see naked bodies, you have given your readers a gift as well. Now when I've finished with my lame lectures, and my son is saying "I'm sorry, I'm sorry" in the most pathetic way possible, it will give me great comfort to think of this post.

    Thanks again for your amazing gift.

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  58. Anonymous1:35 PM

    no book required for the swimming lessons - I turned my pathological non-swimmers into fish last year by forcing them to go to swimming lessons for 1/2 hour every day for a month last summer in a very small group (2 on 1). After a month (and threats of continued daily swimming lessons) they really focused and now would gladly go for lessons every day - bobbing, jumping etc. - and they have gone up 3 levels each in the last year. Every day - that was the key

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  59. Hi, Catherine, what worked for my son with swimming -- and it was a miraculous transformation that happened in a matter of minutes --
    was goggles that have a thingy that covers the nose. So he holds his breath and goes underwater, and he can see, which is very exciting, but he doesn't have to worry about accidentally breathing in.

    Hope this helps! I love your column!

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  60. My favorite swimming book is Swimming Lessons by Betsy Jay. Very fun.

    Your voice is lovely, though not what I imagined. It sounds like the voice of one of those tiny petite women, and I have always imagined you, you know, regular sized. Maybe average height, or a little taller than average. But you sound like one of those little elfin ladies. Are you, or is it just your voice that is elfin? Inquiring minds...

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  61. You're so brave, Catherine. It astonishes me that you make yourself so available to all of us and I am so grateful. Hearing your recorded voice felt ALMOST like meeting you. I was so excited to see the link to the recording on the column.

    That being said, I don't know anyone who identifies with their recorded voice. As many have written, mine sounds so much higher, nasally and girlish on a recording than it does in my ear...not at all how I see myself. Yours was more monotone, slower than I imagine your live, conversational voice is. I imagine the witty insights just rolling off your tongue while your mouth curves in a sly grin and your eyes sparkle. So, (and I hope this won't bother you) I've gone back to reading your columns so that I can hear the delivery the way I think you would REALLY tell it if we were sitting over a cup of coffee.

    Good luck with the swim lessons. My oldest, who is 6 months younger than Birdy, is one of those fish children but my 2-year-old is exactly the opposite so I'll be curious to hear how things go with Ben. My brother was like that too and he's a FINE swimmer now, quite comfortable in the ocean, etc.

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