Yesterday morning, I took the boys to swim lessons. After a lengthy trip led through the bowels of the YMCA by Elijah (“This way! No, this way!”), we found ourselves in the big pool.
Before I could even say, “Don’t drown,” Eli leapt into the water. I figured he knew what he was doing and went to go find Luca’s group.
Luca looked positively petrified. His fear of the water hadn’t abated in the previous weeks’ classes. He motioned for me to get close. “I think I am just going to put my feet in the water and not get in the pool today.”
“Well, that isn’t up to me. We’ll see what your teacher says.”
His teacher was a very cute high school student who completely ignored Luca’s suggestion for a feet only curriculum. She gently grabbed him and placed him in the water.
Luca quickly adopted his defense mechanism for forced swimming: catatonia. The cute teacher would grab Luca by the waist and pull him away from the edge. His body froze in rigor mortis. Arms frozen in front of him. Hands still in ledge-grabbing claws. Legs stuck out straight.
And the worst were his eyes. Oh those eyes. Lifeless orbs. His far away look made me wonder if in his head he was sitting on our leather couch watching cartoons. When Luca would pass in front of me, I would wave frantically, hoping to get some kind of reaction. Some kind of acknowledgment that there was a human under that panic.
The teacher would then attach Luca to the other side and go detach the next fear-paralyzed child. To me, it seemed more like moving luggage across a wet tarmac than swimming.
But she knew what she was doing. Eventually, each child would wiggle their arms or legs and, in some cases put their face in the water.
Eventually, Luca was removed from the water and life returned to his extremities. I told him how proud I was and he was very brave.
He said, “Can I have a treat?”
And out of nowhere Elijah returned to say, “Can I have a treat too?”