Tomorrow is the last day of swim lessons. Thank goodness.
For the record, Jeremy is doing exceptionally well. He is a strong swimmer and graduated to the intermediate class on the first day. He’s learning different strokes and techniques, and yesterday the class started practicing them in the deep end. I’m very proud of him.
Jackson has not faired as well, but it surely isn’t for a lack of trying. His sweet little gentle soul is – for lack of a better word – simple. He doesn’t take easily to new concepts, so learning something physically or mentally complex can be very challenging. Despite his athletic build, Jackson isn’t athletically inclined, so getting his arms and legs to move systematically in the water has required great effort.
God bless his fabulous attitude since the teenage swim instructors have been jerks.
The first day wasn’t so bad. The instructors evaluated the kids and separated them into groups with similar skill levels. Right away Jackson’s class worked on blowing bubbles in the water and kicking. By day two, they started taking the kids across the pool and back on floats.
On day three, the kids were learning how to glide, to push off from the side of the pool, stretch out their arms and start a swim stroke. For Jackson, this concept was totally lost on him. Over and over he tried, and I watched like a hawk, listening to the instructor berate him.
“No, you did it wrong again. Jackson, listen to me. Put your hands together… No, that’s still wrong. You’re DOING IT WRONG. Ugh! Jackson, PAY ATTENTION… No, it’s wrong again…”
And so on. Her facial expression showed total irritation, and her tone was obnoxious and harsh, as if telling him he was doing it wrong over and over again would magically teach him how to do it right.
Finally, agitated, she turned to the instructor next to her and said, “Will you take him? He’s not getting it.” The boy agreed and moved in front of my son to show him how to glide. I could sense in his voice that he, too, was frustrated, but he just continued over and over to SHOW Jackson the technique rather than harp on how he wasn’t getting it.
I continued to watch the nasty girl exchange looks with the other instructors while referencing my son. That’s when the Mama Bear showed up.
I marched over to the director of the program and asked to speak to her privately. I explained everything I had seen and heard and requested the girl not work with Jackson again during these two weeks. I also noted that the boy – while also frustrated – remained kind and patient, which I appreciated. The director made all the obvious apologies and said my request would be honored. Then I marched over to the boy instructor, called him to the side of the pool and said loudly, so the girl could hear, “I understand you may be frustrated but I really appreciate you being patient with Jackson and not speaking rudely to him. Whether he ever learns how to glide or do the breast stroke is irrelevant to me. What matters to me is that you do your best with the 30 minutes you have with him and that you are kind.”
He looked visibly surprised at my frankness and only answered, “Yes ma’am.” Then I gave a quick glare to the girl and yelled at her in my mind.
I wish the story could end there, but it doesn’t. This all happened last Wednesday, and every swim lesson since has been tense, as I’ve watched the teenagers giggle and poke fun at other students, trying hard to keep their remarks quiet or hidden by holding up a float. (What they don’t realize is that sound travels really well from the pool to the picnic tables.) No doubt they’ve made fun of Jackson again, but since I don’t have anymore direct proof beyond a week ago, I’ve said nothing. I just encourage my son to work hard at his lesson, to follow directions, while I keep a sharp ear and eye on the instructors.
This will be our last year of swim lessons through Parks & Rec.