Thursday, January 28, 2016

Testing the waters

I think I've mentioned before that I'm afraid of water. And I guess for that reason, I've always wanted Biscuit to learn how to swim.

I remember so many times I could've been more a part of the group if I knew how to swim.

One year, the youth group at the church I grew up in went to a church camp in the mountains. There was a place called Sliding Rock that has a huge slanted rock with terraced steps. You slide all the way down into a pool of water at the bottom.

Now the slide part sounded good, but the pool at the bottom, not quite my cup of tea. So I had to sit on the sidelines and watch my friends have fun without me.

When Biscuit was wee tiny, I thought about taking him to swimming lessons. But when they're that little, the parents have to get in the pool with them. And my fear was that he would sense my apprehension once we were in the water.

So we waited until he was old enough to take the lessons on his own.

There were benches near the area of the pool the class was using. And there were benches near the dressing rooms. Before the first class, I sat down near the dressing rooms. I asked Biscuit if he wanted me to stay where I was or move near his class.

"Mom," he said, "you just stay right here. My class is way over there, but my teacher will be there, and the lifeguard is right there, too."

He's much braver than me! But I stayed where he wanted me to.

His class was called the polliwogs. There were six of them, some more adventurous than others.

I struggled to watch some of what Biscuit had to do. They wore float packs most of the time. They were made of a couple of blocks of foam with a belt to fit around the kids' waists. The foam blocks were on their backs, so they could swim unencumbered, but still have the backup of a flotation device.

The first time the little kids and their teacher made their way from the 3-foot end to the 7-foot end, I literally had to avert my eyes. I couldn't stand to watch it.

I glanced back for just a minute to try to take a picture. The only saving grace is that Biscuit was a good ways away from me.

There was a game they played where the teacher held a long stick (called a fireman's pole) down in the water in the 7-foot end. The kids were supposed to take off their float packs, grab the pole with both hands and walk their way hand-over-hand down the pole to the bottom of the pool. When they touch the bottom of the pool, the walk their way back up. It makes my breath shallow just thinking about it.

It was funny to me to see where each of the kids excelled. One little boy could get down the pool and back with a kickboard in no time flat. One little girl would put her face in the water when she was using her kickboard, then she would turn her head and take a breath, just like lap swimmers do. And Biscuit was the only one in his group to touch the bottom of the pool in the fireman's pole game.

Biscuit's right in the middle of the little bunch of kids.
The class was twice a week for three weeks. And at the end, the kids should be able to swim 15 feet unassisted on front, back and side. At least, those are the pre-requisites for the next class. So it stands to reason that those are the things he would learn, right?

Not so much. Sadly, his teacher was not very good. She was very young, and every time one of the kids struggled with something, she would take a quick look over where the parents were sitting, almost as if she expected to get scolded. I would rather her have paid attention to the kids.

At the next-to-the-last lesson, the teacher gave out promotion slips saying all the kids could move on to the next class. But then at the last lesson, she gave out progress reports. I honestly don't think she even read the things. 

The sheets included a list of tasks down the left side and check boxes under "Complete" and "Incomplete." She checked every single task as incomplete. Would the kids really be ready for the next class if they had not completed a single thing on the task list? Including, by the way, "enjoys a game" and "knows pool and class rules." And under water sports and games, Biscuit definitely went under and got rings off the bottom of the pool. I watched him do it. It was one of the few times Biscuit actually looked over at me and waved.

I'm not sure how much Biscuit actually learned in the class, but I certainly don't want to pay for him to take it over again. I was hoping to sign him up for the next level immediately, but since members get to sign up first, the classes filled up, and we didn't get a spot.

But regardless of what his teacher observed or didn't observe, I did see Biscuit becoming brave in the water. He seemed very comfortable out there, so I think the rest is just details!

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