Tuesday, March 07, 2017
Today I am grateful for harshness. That’s the word that was used to describe my teaching methods as a swimming teacher of little kids. Me? Really? And it has been the most predominant word in my brain for the rest of the day, which is just ridiculous. So I guess I have to be grateful because all of the other stuff wasn’t in my brain today.
Who said it? A mom of one of my new little ones. . .ironically one not afraid of the water and who can swim pretty well. Yet today there were tears. The first time because she had come in late and saw me at the deep end of the pool with the other kid in class. When she got in and had made it to half of the pool (with the kickboard) she said, “I can’t go all the way.” And the tears started. Hmmm. Usually “can’t” translates into “I don’t believe I can.” So I said, “You know, I really think you can and I am going to be right here at your side.” So she did. Sometimes we all need a little nudge of encouragement to realize our potential.
Then I asked her to climb out and jump in. “My mom doesn’t want me to without a noodle.” I said that since I was the teacher, it would be okay. So she jumped. And swam. And kicked all the way back. And did a bunch of other things I asked her to do without tears. But when I corrected the way she was moving her arms and showed her how to practice using the wall, she cried. Mom rushed in on her helicopter and asked what was going on?
“Were fine,” I said. “She’s just learning the correct way and it’s harder and different.”
“Yeah?” mom said. “Well, she almost didn’t want to come today because of your harshness last week!” Then, with her verbal bomb dropped, she turned and sat back down to continue yakking. It was like a drive-by assault on my character.
So I looked up the definition.
- The quality of being unpleasantly rough or jarring to the senses.
- The quality of being cruel or severe.
Me? Perhaps when I’m going off on a vituperative tirade in a political rant about our new administration, but in the pool, when I’m trying to encourage a young swimmer? I don’t think so. In fact, I know so! Yet here I am, late in the day. . . ruminating. Some “BING! Heartprints” are not pleasant.
(The picture, registering my shock, is of a mask sculpted by my friend, Tim Kaker.)