Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Scenes from the YMCA

On Saturday, I took Benjamin to his first swimming lesson. It was a complete disaster.

I signed Ben up for swimming lessons so he could learn how to swim, or more accurately, so he could learn how not to be totally and completely terrified of getting water on his head. This is a huge concern of his, having water on his head. It makes bath time… interesting.

Ben is the only child signed up for the 11:40 class time. He had not one, but two swim teachers to attend to him. They were teenagers. I’m just stating a fact. Perhaps a more experienced swim teacher would have done better with Ben… perhaps not. The teenage swim teachers seemed completely flummoxed by the fact that my child would NOT pass the third step and descend into the deeper parts of the water. These were the most inflexible swim teachers I have ever encountered. They stared at Ben with perplexed looks upon their faces for the majority of the time.

If I had been the teacher, I would have gone with it and practiced some floating or breathing techniques right there on the steps, but these teachers were “go by the book” kinds of teachers and were completely thrown by Ben’s adamant refusal of the floating dumbbell.

I was fully clothed, but removed my shoes and socks to get as close to the pool as I could to try and cajole Ben into the water.

“What’s wrong with your foot???” asked teacher #1.

I hurt my foot this past Thursday. I have taken juvenile pleasure in showing it to anyone I come in contact with. It was and is a gangrenous green color, bruised and still swollen. It looks hideous.

“It’s… gangrenous. I have a circulation problem. I’m hoping to at least hang onto it ‘til the end of the week.” They were unfazed by my response.

After twenty minutes of Ben splashing and the teachers staring, I dismissed them, promising to work with Ben this week so that next Saturday would not bring a similar scenario. They paddled off, seemingly relieved.


Tuesday, I take Ben back to the pool. He makes great strides, allowing me to carry him about the deeper waters. He even allows me to hold onto his hands while he bobs like a buoy in the water. He wears his bright red Spiderman life jacket. I wear my “make my tummy appear thin” bathing suit from Lands End. At the beginning of the summer, I was able to wear my “hot mommy” one-piece bathing suit. (I recently lost a lot of weight. Even more recently, I gained most of it back.) Thankfully, most of the people in the pool at 10:00 am are seniors and I am happy to say that I still look better in a bathing suit than most seventy-year old men. Most.


We enjoy the YMCA Adventure Center. I enjoy sitting on the bench reading The City newspaper or whatever garbage is lying around while the kids climb and play. Today, the room is empty for a while so Ben and the twins have full-run of the place.

Then Miss Perfect comes in. We all know a Miss Perfect. Miss Perfect is skinny and beautiful and only wears two-piece hot mommy bathing suits because she does not have stretch marks. She never falls during aerobics class. She only needs five hours of sleep to function, she makes dinner every night, she only buys organic, and you can bet if you don’t have a tissue on hand, she will have some neatly contained in her purse.

Miss Perfect and I are friendly with one another. Her daughter is Ella’s and Daniel’s age.

I make small talk with Miss Perfect by asking what her daughter, “Jane,” is up to.

Jane is great! Jane is fully potty-trained! Miss Perfect and her husband are going to move soon, and they are looking into school districts with gifted and talented programs because… you guessed it… looks like Jane is gifted. And talented. She has the verbal skills of a five-year-old and the coordination of an acrobat. She takes gymnastics and can sing God Bless America. In Spanish.

“How are the twins doing?” Miss Perfect asks as her daughter deftly climbs the large rope net. The twins are spinning in circles next to one another. After a while, they collide and collapse on the floor, becoming the living definition of the term “dazed and confused.”

The twins are not potty trained. They can’t talk. Ella has the coordination of a three-legged dog and Daniel has temper issues. They sing some variation of the song “Twinkle Twinkle.” They have attention spans of gnats. They will be entering the school district’s special-ed program when they turn three in February.


A lesson for Miss Perfect:

I was potty-trained by the time I was two. During my formative years, I was in all of the advanced reading and math groups. I was a frequent “Hallway Hero” and recipient of the prestigious “Ribbet Reader” award. Teachers chose me to take the attendance to the office. In the eighth grade, when everyone else handed in their Halloween short story, I handed in a novella.

It all went to pot when I got to high school. My grades languished. Teachers held “conferences” about my “apathy.” My SAT scores were sub-par. I actually failed a semester of gym.

Miss Perfect should be careful who she brags to. I’m just saying. You never know.


We all hold hands as we walk through the parking lot to the minivan. I look like a mama duck with three baby ducklings. An elderly woman offers to help me. She takes my bags while I put Ella in her car seat. She has come to the YMCA to go swimming. She says she learned to swim five years ago, when she was 60 years of age.

There is hope for Ben.


Toaster said...

Be thankful--at least the teachers weren't the type that believe the way to teach a kid to swim is to throw them in the water! :o

And btw, who the heck can survive on 5 hours of sleep? I get cranky with less than 7; I prefer 9. :D

ShellyFrank said...

Totally feel ya on the swimming lessons! Will took them last spring....some were ok, some were disaster (esp the one where they kept him kicking and screaming in the water the entire class)!
And why do teenagers look SO young now? The girls teaching Will looked to be 10....I'm sure they must have been older....

Anonymous said...

Ben's grandpa didn't learn to swim till 11th grade. No hurry.

MGBR said...

You and I are kindred spirits. I'm just saying.

Jennifer, Playgroups Are No Place For Children said...

The teenagers, oh my. Clueless about how to help Ben, apparently unable to comprehend the humor about your gangrenous foot.

I think Miss Perfect lives a few blocks from me. I see her at the library every week. Amazing how her nails and hair are always just so.

Julie said...

Mrs. Perfect =Mrs. Insecure. It's the transparent ladies like us that have it going on.... (-:

Mitchell Collins said...

Wow mrs. jennings you are really amazing at writing u got me hooked on this story just from that short little paragraph of it on ur facebook page this was probably the best thing ive read in like 3 years!!! Keep up the good work and when u make a book some day tell me so i can buy it!!! :)