When we were in Mexico, I had to fish Luca out of the pool twice for fear he was drowning, despite his insistence that gulping for air and flailing was simply his preferred swim stroke. Diana and I decided if we were going to ever enjoy trashy novels in future vacations, he had to get back into swim lessons.
I’ve said this before, but Luca is a Hamann through and through. Which means he is crippled by anxiety at anything new. To diffuse any potential nervousness, I decided to make things 100 times worse by saying “It’s ok to be scared about swim lessons” over and over on the drive to the pool. I even did him the favor of snapping at Elijah when he tried to add his support.
By the time we entered the pool area, Luca was in tears. His instructor and classmates beaconed him into the pool. To his eyes, they were demons demanding he dive into a vat of acid and rusty nails.
Luca buried his face into my stomach and sobbed. I, being a deranged lunatic, told him he had to learn how to swim or he would die.
A friendly coach of indeterminate age came by and gently knelt down to Luca’s level. He whispered something to him, which I assume was, “Hey. I had a jerkface for a father too. Why don’t we get away from this idiot?”
Luca took his hand and they simply sat at the pool’s edge for a while. Luca listened intently, sometimes shaking his head “no” at the occasional question. After a few minutes, the coach led Luca into the pool and they practiced a few strokes. Very shortly after, Luca rejoined his class and was chatting and laughing like his panic attack had never happened.
After class, I looked around for the coach. Not because I wanted to thank him, but because I wanted to avoid any human contact with him. But he was gone, like a superhero off to save another young child from parental stupidity.
In the days since, Luca has been chattering away at how much he likes swim lessons and how he can’t wait to go this Saturday.