I learned a new respect for the term, “Go Figure!” I am back teaching the little Pikes and Eels to swim at the Y. Having been gone for two weeks some didn’t show up and there was one girl who I had only seen a few times.
A bawler. She was not new to the pool and I know I’ve met her before but there are so many kids and when they’re wet they all look alike. You know, pretty, curly hair, drenched. . . it isn’t the same. Bangs become annoying instead of cute. Long hair untethered, floats around them like a shroud. Sometimes it’s like swimming with the Newfoundland-mix dog who shared my home pool years ago. I didn’t remember the girl, but I do remember the weeping.
“There is no crying in the pool,” I said. “We already have enough water.” She sniffed, through a ready-to-bawl set jaw. Swell. “I want you to kick for me. Straight legs.” She did. “Show me how you reach and pull.” I doubted she’d do a thing, but she was doing everything I asked, through tears, but doing it. “How about some bubbles?” That ratcheted her up a notch. Water works. Sobs. Mom and grandma twitched in their seats. Oh boy. I would prefer parents leave the deck area because it is up to ME to bond with their child or neither of us will succeed. If the kids keep looking to their mom’s for assurance it takes forever to build that bond. It would be like parents sitting in classrooms. Non-effective.
I gave both of my cherubs a kickboard and we went off to the deep end. They are good kickers and it helps keep their skinny little bodies warm to move for long lengths. “How about some bubbles,” I asked. Again. Because she had not done it the first time.
“Remember you are a little girl and breathe air. You are not a goldfish who breaths water. You need to take a breath first, then blow bubbles.”
“I don’t want to! I don’t like putting my face in.” I think that’s what she said. It was hard to tell through the weed-whacker yowls. I had them crawl out and jump in. It’s a good way to get that face and hair wet.
“NO! I DON’T WANT TO!” she wailed and I expected grandma to lunge from the other end of the pool and sweep her up any minute.
“I understand. Now put your toes on the edge and jump in. Feet first. I have the board right here and I’m not going to leave you.”
“I don’t want to!!!!” She was raising her pitch pretty good by now. Heads were turning and they were from people walking to their cars outside.
“I get it. You don’t want to. I hear you.” She looked at me like it had worked. “Do it anyway.” I’m tough. But if I stopped doing everything I was afraid of I wouldn’t be writing a blog right now. So I DO get it. She screeched and flailed, pointing at me, indicating that she wanted me to hold her hand as she jumped.
“No, sweetie,” I said. “It’s time you jump in without holding my hand. I know you can do it or I wouldn’t ask. Get ready. On three! One. . .Two. . .”
She jumped. Bobbed to the surface and I immediately gave her the board. Big smile! Huge! Amazed herself. And me. Mom and grandma, clapping and cheering, leaped so high at the other end of the pool I thought they might fall in, too. It seems she has never, ever done this before. Who knew?
She cried off & on through most of the class and when it was over I had to give a verbal report as to which level she should sign up for during the next session. I was nervous to talk to mom. I have been chastised for expecting too much of kids by parents before. It’s okay. Sometimes it just isn’t a good match. It’s best they have someone else teach them. There are a lot of swim teachers who let them paddle around and never learn how to swim. There are others who are fantastic swim coaches. I don’t need them ready for the swim team, but I do want them to swim. It’s important for safety as well as fun.
I told mom that I thought she needed to remain at the same level because she still gets upset about doing most things. Mom said she would sign her up and asked if I was teaching the next session. Here it comes, I thought. She wants to be sure “the old bitch” doesn’t teach her kid again! “Yes, I will,” I said. “I teach on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 10:00.”
“Okay, good,” mom says. “I will sign her up to be with you again.” I almost drowned from shock. In the shallow end. “She responds so well to you and is so much better with you than she is with anyone else.” Huh? “Last week when you weren’t here it was a nightmare! Thank you so much!” Go Figure!