The other day I told you about Nick, my newly appointed ‘Assistant Coach.’ Today I’m going to tell you about Alex, the child I will drown before the end of the summer.
Alex was my pain-in-the-ass-success-story last summer. He was the kid who refused, for nearly a week, to even put his feet in the pool. He’s tiny for his age and scared of pretty much everything, including the water, so in order to get his butt off the pool deck, I had to promise him I’d only hold him for 10 seconds in the water before returning him to the safety of the concrete. Of course, it took me 30+ seconds to walk 20 feet into the pool, 10 seconds to stand there, and 30+ seconds to walk back to the side. When he realized he’d been in the water for more than a minute without dying, he was shocked. And thus went our summer… me misleading him and Alex being amazed by what he could do. It was very rewarding at times and very frustrating at others. Everything I told him to try was met with, “I can’t.” To top it off, his mother and grandmother (who has a voice like fingernails on a chalkboard) are hoverers (which is probably why he’s scared of everything, poor kid). I don’t like hoverers. They make me nuts. I used to take him to the middle of the pool to work with him, just so we couldn’t hear them. Additionally, Alex has zero attention span and simply does not listen (probably because he's used to tuning out adults like The Hoverers). As I said, a pain in my ass. But, by the end of the summer I had him in the water without his floaties and at least trying to doggie paddle. He never quite got it, but he was a million miles from where he started. And it was good.
He’s back in my group this summer since he still can’t swim. In his honor, I implemented a rule for all my Little Sinkers. No one is allowed to say, “I can’t.” We can only say, “I can,” or “I’ll try.” They all get it… even Alex (of course, I threaten to feed them to the fishes if I hear the dreaded ‘c’ word… they giggle, but their eyes get big and they wonder…).
So Alex came up with a new line…
“I don’t want to.”
So I implemented yet another rule. No one can say, “I don’t want to.” I told them they have to try and if they’re afraid to do something new, they can tell me and we’ll figure it out.
Last night… it was Alex’s turn to blow bubbles in the water through his nose…
Me: OK, Alex, just put your face in up to your nose and blow out! Easy peasy!
Alex: “I don’t feel like it.”