a Kennedy half dollar into each of our palms. You could tell that they were important to her, I'm not sure what she was saving them for, but the expectation was clear, that this was a loan, she expected to see those coins again. I was the youngest of the group, maybe 7-8 at the time and I think it was Brother Redface, Aquaman (yes, I get the irony), and Ace that walked up the street with me. We handed over the coins, and then they started to sort us into our swimming abilities. My swimming time heretofore was moving around in a tub of water that my brothers had all previously bathed in, so it was kind of like floating in the Dead Sea, it was almost impossible not to. I'd been to the beach and touched my toes to the water, but I don't think my head had ever gotten wet at this point (My siblings would argue this to be true, even at bath time). Amazingly we all were put into the same group, along with a few others. What a momentous day, I was going to learn to be a swimmer !
|They said jump, and I just couldn't.|
wasn't the case as he kept repeating the instruction to each of the kids including my brothers. They all dutifully jumped into water over their heads and the pattern was repeated right until he came to me, and I refused to comply. I probably wouldn't have drowned, but in my head, I kept thinking, "They haven't taught me anything yet, how do they expect me not to drown?" After a short debate, they separated me from my brothers and brought me to the shallow end of the pool for my instruction. Six weeks later, after the end of my instruction, most of which I do not remember except for using a flutter-board, I had not advanced my skill and when they lined us up to receive our coins back, my hand remained empty as I still couldn't jump into the deep end of the pool. My siblings all had advanced their abilities and were given cool monikers that showed how they had done, like dolphin, otter, or shark. I'm pretty sure I went home as a tadpole or a turtle. I dragged behind the others on the downhill walk home, and I'll never forget the look of disappointment on my mother's face, when I was the only one who didn't hand back her investment. It was a look that I tried to avoid seeing in the future.
|The kid on the left has my technique down pat|
Coming up this winter, I'll be working with the younger patrol at Scouts to help them with a few swimming requirements. I've got to book some time at the high school pool to do it. All my older Scouts in the troop have passed the swim test, except for one. The kid struggles with a fear of the water, and then with the lack of swimming ability to actually pass the test. He's just an eensie-weensie short of "this tall". It took me a whole session with him last year, just to get him to jump into the deep end, but I did get him to do it, and that was more than the school was able to do during his lessons there. I'm sure he'll eventually be a swimmer, when something motivates him more than the fear he has of the water, and he sets his mind to the spot he needs to, to do it. It's all about motivation. You see, I fail less as an adult now, than I ever did as a kid, because the stakes are higher. I've got a family to support, bills to pay, kids that look up to me as an example, friends that wish me well and competitors that don't, and these are all powerful motivators. I'll help this Scout find his motivation, and when he completes the BSA test, maybe I'll have a shiny Kennedy half dollar there as his reward. It's the least a fellow green light can do.
|We'll never know the lives we saved with these lines.|