I was "volunteering" as part of my mandatory 24 hours of volunteer time per swim season, and it was the easiest job I've had yet - at the Volunteer Station, handing out the job assignments and badges. Which meant Carl was on little boy duty, pepping them up for their swims, bringing the towels from the tent to the lanes, etc.
Ryan was scheduled to swim in the very first heat of the morning, promptly at 7:01 a.m. following the National Anthem at 7:00 a.m. So at 6:55, Carl is carrying a crying Ryan to me at the Volunteer Station. Ryan won't swim, unless he is swimming with Alex.
I take over, get Ryan back in line. His coach comes up, and asks me if he is going to swim. Ryan screams "NO!" and since this is a relay, if he won't swim, he's letting down three other kids. So she is about to pull him, and substitute another, late arriving child whose parents signed him in too late to swim in the relay race.
And I cracked.
I offered Ryan a new Lego toy if he would swim.
And like that, the tears stopped.
The smile came out.
And Ryan nodded, and said he would swim.
And damned if the boy didn't swim his heart out in the relay race.
Three minutes later, its Alex's turn. Alex is one of the better swimmers in the 6 and Under group, so he was on the Primo Numero Uno team for their bracket. He is normally a great diver, and he was their 4th place swimmer, and they had a HUGE lead when he got ready to dive in.
Except... my usually great diver didn't dive. he just ... belly flopped.
He still swam great, and they won their Heat and came in first place. But when we asked him why he didn't dive (because it cost him several seconds not diving) he responded, "But the pool says, "NO DIVING."
And it does. EVERYWHERE. (See above picture of Ryan starting his swim in the green goggles) So I'm super proud of him 1) being able to read, and 2) actually following the rules he is reading, but... thank GOD they still won their race!
Since Alex was the last in the relays, they handed him all four "Heat Winner" ribbons, to share with his team mates. This made quite the impression on Ryan, and he apparently thought about nothing else for the next hour. For when it was time for Ryan to swim his solo Freestyle 25M, he didn't need any bribing. Sitting perfectly on the bench in his place, he leans over to me and says, "I'm going to get a ribbon, Mama."
And damned if he didn't swim all the way across the pool without stopping once, with actual "Over Rover" arms, and win his race.
And a ribbon.
So, bribing my child to swim was potentially *not* the best parenting decision I ever made.
But it worked.