Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Fly

Most mornings lap swimmers in the far lane at my YMCA pool get booted at some point to make room for children from the attached elementary school.

The children come in for swimming lessons, but I swim there three to four mornings a week and have almost never seen a lesson given.

Instead, the children are released into the far lane and, like any group of unsupervised kids in a pool, they begin to go nuts – jumping in and out of the other lap lanes, balancing on the rope, splashing like crazy...

I don’t mind any of their behavior, I really don’t. If I were a kid in the pool without any adult supervision, I’d be doing the same.

What does bother me is that they never get an actual swim lesson.

Never.

Whenever I see this happening, I break from my workout to ask the nearest 'official looking' adult what is going on and I am always told that the kids are having “free time.”

The kids deserve a real lesson. Their parents aren't there to see what is happening.


I have repeatedly complained at the front desk.


Today, the young woman in charge of the children (we’ll give her the benefit of the doubt and call her the swim teacher) sat on a bench at the side of the pool busily bent over a stack of papers.

She didn’t even glance in the direction of the young boys she was supposed to supervise.

The boys jumped in the water, swam one length and then got busy being unsupervised boys in a pool.

I stopped my workout in the middle of my lane, stood up and asked the swim teacher why the kids weren’t getting a lesson. Again with the “free time” answer.

“Why is it that they never get a lesson? All they ever have is free time. Couldn’t you teach them something?”

[Oh, how I cower at the mere idea of confrontation. NOT.]

“They deserve a lesson,” I told her, “They deserve your attention.”

She shrugged and went back to work on her stack of papers.

Soon all the boys were creating a splash fest in my lane.

I swim hard. I won’t necessarily see kids in my lane until I’m swimming right over them. Their presence in my lane is dangerous for them and for me.

[Because me strong like bull.]

How could she not even watch them for SAFETY? Children, in a pool, under her supervision… is it me or do they not, at minimum, deserve life guarding?

Narrowly avoiding making pulp out of the group of boys I stood up again and this time I yelled at the "teacher.”

“YOU’RE NOT EVEN WATCHING THEM!” I screamed.

[Troublemaking busy body that I am.]

You know what she did?

She yelled at the boys and kicked them out of the pool.


That is when I lost my cool.

I stood in the center of the pool in my swim cap, goggles and Speedo and I released upon her... the WRATH OF JOY.

[OH, THE JOY OF YELLING LOUDLY...]

“I CAN'T BELIEVE YOU ARE KICKING THEM OUT FOR BEING BOYS!! YOU ARE THE ONE NOT PAYING ATTENTION!! YOU ARE SUPPOSED TO BE THEIR TEACHER! HOW CAN YOU PUNISH THEM FOR BEING KIDS WHEN IT IS YOUR JOB TO SUPERVISE THEM?"

[This was followed with further RIGHTEOUS INDIGNATION, delivered at a high volume, using that tone of voice that my mom hates...]

When I finished my workout, I showered, got dressed and went to the front office.

I asked to speak to the director.

She took me to her office.

“I want to confess and to complain,” I told her. “First, I want to confess that I yelled at your swim teacher. But I also want to complain that the children never get a lesson.”

I went on and on about how they deserved to have a proper lesson, how they deserved to be supervised… how they deserved attention from the adult caring for them.

The director told me that all the boys really needed to learn in the class was to swim one length of the pool.

I stared at her for a moment.

“Well, they can do that,” I said. “But doesn’t that tell you that they are capable of doing more? Doesn't it indicate that these young boys are full of potential?"

I paused again.

"Teach them to FLY.”


USA Flying






***********************

justpostmay2007

106 comments:

FENICLE said...

For shizzle??? What on Earth kind of response is that?

I used to have this girl who swam laps in my lane at the Y in the mornings. Never fail, she always got in my lane. I called her "ankle bitter" - because she was always hitting my feet with her hands. No matter how fast or slow I swam. She was incapable of pacing herself not to. The Y needs to teach a class on proper swimming manners while doing laps!!!!!

Alpha DogMa said...

Oh, the Joys, Oh, I Would So Do This Too!
Good for you for taking a stand (or a fly)!
Are you going to take this further - complain to the school principal or write a letter to the editor (this is my preferred method of disturbing the shit)?
Start taking names, would be my advice. The name fo the 'instructor,' the name of the homeroom class for the boys, the name of the Y Director. The threat of accountability does wonders for some people's work ethic.

pgoodness said...

Good for you! How horrible that these kids have such low expectations placed on them! And how equally horrible that no one is even watching them!!! A terrible excuse for a "teacher" to get some paperwork done. I guess it's good that those boys can swim, otherwise...geez. Anyway, good for you standing up to all those involved. Hopefully some kind of changes will be made.

Julie Pippert said...

Oh YOU ROCK!

Oh you so rock you so rock you so rock.

I would totally have done this, and had I been there, I might have joined you on your crusade. I more than half wish I could have been a wingman.

I hope it brings some good. I hope these kids get to LEARN TO FLY!

flutter said...

God, I just.
I think I just fell in love all over you.

Teach them to fly! God, OTJ you are just. KICK ASS.

chilihead said...

I love that you called them on this. As a former lifeguard and water safety freak I cannot even BELIEVE they were so flip about this. And what the hell kind of answer is "they only have to swim one lap"? I think I may have just fallen out of my chair at that point.

Of course, everything you did and said would still be inside my head so I would be falling out of my head, technically. You're awesome for not keeping it in your head.

Another long and well-formed comment from Chili. You're welcome.

Marymurtz said...

Good for you!!!!!!!!!

I stay at the Y during my daughter's lessons and they are very involved. They have "free time" for about 7-8 minutes at the end of the lesson, but the teachers stay in the water with the kids.

What kind of lame-ass YMCA tolerates this kind of "instruction?" You should write to the National YMCA. Here is the link: http://www.ymca.net/general/contact_us.html

I don't know if it will do any good, but it couldn't hurt.

Karly said...

I so wish I could have seen you wearing your goggles and swim cap screaming at the teacher. Wish I could have seen the look on the boys' faces too!

Good for you, though!

Mrs. Chicken said...

LOVE THIS. I would do the exact same thing ... if I knew how to swim.

Fly, indeed.

Jen said...

Oh how I wish I had been there to give you a standing ovation when you let loose on that "swim teacher". Way to take a stand!

Jennifer said...

Yay, yay and HOORAY for you.

I would totally do the confrontation thing (scared of confrontation...yeah...me, too...*snort*) but I wouldn't have come up with such a KICK ASS ending comment until much, much later. Like a month later. God, you're good.

**Applause ** Applause ** !

Also, seriously, wtf is wrong with that YMCA???

Terri said...

Good for you...
that's a bunch of B.S.....
I'd be writing to the YMCA

Kyla said...

I'm shaking in my boots at the mere thought of a confrontation like that...but I am totally in love with you for doing it. Way to go.

metalia said...

Oh, girl. Just when I think I cannot possibly adore you any more than I already do, you go ahead and do this. Love it.

Izzy said...

You GO!!! I would have done the same thing.

Your story made me think of this sticker I have that says "Well behaved women rarely make history"

I'm very proud of you! (and very disappointed in the YMCA)

Queen Karana said...

You go girl! :) I wish I had the courage to stand up to people like that. I am a wuss. Or a Wuss, with a capital W.

I'd be furious as a parent. It's supposed to be swimming lessons - keep teaching them!

Kristi said...

Awesome. Just awesome. I'm going to look for someone to tell off tomorrow now.

King Isepik said...

Much laughter ensued...

carrie said...

Good for you.

If that doesn't work, I suggest parking yourself out front and letting the parents know what they're paying for.

Go Jess Go!

Carrie

SUEB0B said...

You rock.

Little Miss Moi said...

Dear oh the joys. Wow so different! In Australia, we weren't allowed free time EVER, and our lessons stopped when we all passed the Level 7 Royal Lifesaving Certificate. This took us the entire years of our elementary school.

I know what you mean about bumping into people. When you swim, you're looking down, then BANG! Headache.

Mel said...

(((You)))

Shannon said...

I was soooo inspired by this post and then I saw the picture....and lost it. ROFLMFAO!!!!!

But still I'm totally sitting here saying "Yeah!" "You tell her" "Man she has balls....I wish I had some!"

Let us know how the lessons are conducted when you see the kids and instructor again.

Fairly Odd Mother said...

You are the best. I wish I could say I'd do the same, but I'd probably just mutter under my breathe a while.

I think you should complain to the school, or the PTO or something. This teacher is using swim class as study period or to catch up on her work! If you ignore the fact that these kids aren't getting a lesson of any sort, there is still the issue of safety to consider.

One Tough Momma said...

You go girl! You and I would totally get thrown out of A LOT of places if we hung out.

Jenifer said...

Awesome, I can hear your voice echoing right now.

Sayre said...

BEHOLD THE WRATH OF JOY!!!! It is a mighty and wondrous thing.

I'd have been right there kicking ass with you. My speedo would have scared them to death!

Patience said...

You Are My Hero!! You said - outloud - all the things everyone else would want to say to the sluggard teacher. You said all the things everyone would say to everyone but the teacher!

QueenB said...

Good for you! You are absolutely right-at the very minimum, they should have adult eyes on them every single second they are in the water-even if they're only having "free time". I would be complaining about that in a HUGE way, because it's dangerous for the kids and the other swimmers there.

If I were you, and you wanted to REALLY follow up on this (really make some noise)-I would put a call in to the school, to let them know what's going on at the pool-if the teacher is a qualified swim teacher, and not just a glorified PE/science teacher (and probably former marketing person-you'd be surprised how common this is), I'm surprised they would let the kids just go free in the pool.

carmachu said...

Great job!

People like that deserve your wrath. I bet it was a thing of beauty....

Tabba said...

Jess....as you will take up retirement in Kevin Charnas' left nostril, may I take up retirement in yours? It will be a totally sick simbiotic relationship. But that's OK, right?
You rock! And what you said needed to be said.

Nancy said...

The teacher and director are the very types that will be pissing and moaning to the police when these boys are in their late teens doing just what they learned ... how to act without direction or responsibility.

Good for you standing on that soap box ... I'd have done the same and hope many more would too.

Bon said...

kick arse, you. well done, on your part...and thanks for the headsup as far as checking out the "swim classes" i eventually put my child in.

and, yeh, my mom and my partner both hate "that voice", once i get going. but it kinda has a life of its own.

BOSSY said...

Bossy loves that you put your nose in it. Bossy enjoys telling strangers that they've dressed their infants inappropriately for the weather.

Lotta said...

Most excellent! You are a rock star mommy advocate.

Mrs. M said...

I don't think I'd want to be a member of that place.

Janet a.k.a. "Wonder Mom" said...

Damn you woman. I'm all getting ready to laugh at you and your speedo and you make me cry. Right here...On the friggin laptop. Tears.

Damn you woman.

Queen Heather said...

Amen! When did people become so content with just meeting the minimum and not encouraging more? Sigh. Teach them to fly....right on!

mimikatemom said...

Fly indeed. Involves the "core", much more than freestyle. Requires much more strength and control but when done correctly...looks and feels powerful. And that is what those boys should be feeling in the pool.

I have no doubt that many of these amazing words you put together begin to take shape as your muscle memory takes over with your face in the water and frees your mind to fly.

Kudos swimmer girl!

mommiebear2 said...

Goodness, makes me want to rethink signing my two up for lessons at our local Y.

Kim said...

wow...just WOW...good for you!

I can't believe how content that "swim teacher" was to ignore her JOB. Way to go for letting it rip on her, she totally deserved it. Too bad it didn't seem to have any effect...idiots, we're surrounded by idiots.

The Queen Mama said...

Hallejuah and amen. I hope that teacher got a good reprimand. Add that to the list of horror stories I've heard about swim lessons at the Y.

PunditMom said...

You are truly a woman after my own heart. Mr. PunditMom cringes when I do things like that -- but I can't help it. Twin daughters of different mothers perhaps??

Hol&J said...

I'd have a hard time not saying something either. I hope those boys will get someone to teach them, and this time a person who actually cares.

Jen Magnuson said...

Holy cow.

You are a Wonder Woman for standing up for these kids.

Why aren't you teaching?

Jodi said...

GRRR...the kids are from an elementary school you say? Write a letter to the principal and complain. CC to the board of education, just to make it super-fun for everyone involved. Be specific about the time(s) so the teacher can be identified.

I have an 8yo boy. I know how he acts in the pool with other boys. It isn't just a waste of educational time, it is dangerous for those kids. And you, of course.

ads said...

Seriously-

Write a short letter to the YMCA, post it on your blog-and all of us who have posted comments today, will post a signature of support. Send your blog post to the National YMCA, and your local.

One letter may raise an eyebrow. One letter that has 25+ signatures on it? That is another thing entirely.

I, for one, will sign something if you post it on your blog.

Oh, The Joys said...

Ads - that's a good idea. I already decided to see what action the director takes. If the problem persists, I had planned to write a letter and cc: the local Metro Y (not just this branch) as well as the national organization. Getting a bunch of supporters could give it the extra umph! though. -- also great ideas about the media.

It makes me so mad. I just can't help but KNOW that if these were affluent kids this wouldn't be happening. No one has any expectations for these kids. It's not fair.

Life As I Know It said...

YOU GO GIRL!

QT said...

OTJ - You are a rock star! I will be more than happy to sign whatever you would like. And I agree - since when is the minimum all we strive for? And WHY would you want to TEACH anyone that?

NotSoSage said...

Oh, this got me a little teary...I'll blame it on my former life as a competitive swimmer. It is really such an amazing sport for giving kids a sense of accomplishment...

You are inspiring.

MommyMommy said...

go you!!!! Are you going to take it a step further and report to the school about there non lessons? I am sure the parents pay for this, and it is a definite safety issue if they are not being watched!

Super B's Mom said...

You totally ROCK. The world is full of lazy and clueless people, yet so many people LIKE ME stand back and say nothing. I wish I could be more like you.

GOOD FOR YOU for calling her out on it.

Mamma said...

Damn straight sister!!!!!

I love you and that loud ass voice of yours.

mamatulip said...

You go, girl!

I'd take it one step further and contact the school, and give them a heads-up.

mcewen said...

I'm lucky enough to ALWAYS have to be a parent who stays. Not every parent has that choice. Good for you.
Cheers

Magpie said...

That takes my breath away. That's a public school teacher, wasting our tax dollars not teaching those kids anything? That sucks.

Cathy said...

I am standing up & applauding.

Kelly said...

Girl you've got some eggs! I'm calling you next time I'm filled with some righteous indignation!

Yamagoo said...

This attitude of doing "only what is required" is pervasive in the world today. There's very little attempt made at fostering the exceptional and caring about what you do for the sake of a "job well done"..puhlease!!! That's so old skool! (I am old skool..or just old..I confuse the two...)
This morning NPR featured managers who are frustrated that the Gen-Y'rs in their offices need a cookie and pat on the back daily just to show up. We have fostered and created a majorus that couldn't care less if they are making a difference as long as they are making their $$$ and moving on to "free" time.
There is NO DOUBT there is a child in that pool who's future would be changed and enhanced if someone challenged him...
Give em Hell...daily...we all have to do what we can to awaken the slumbering giant of the OLD SKOOL!

Above Average Joe said...

I applaud you for standing up for the kids.

Unfortunately, you now need to buy a wetsuit so you can swim in the nearest river seeing your Y membership will probably be revoked.

Gingers Mom said...

Good for you! I like to get up on my sassy horse too. Not many people stand up for kids like that. Kids are usually in trouble for "Getting in the way". I'd be pissed if they were my kids not getting any supervision or lessons. Go JOY Go!

Jamie said...

I wonder if that is a "Y" thing. There are many capable adults at the Y I frequent. However the daycare leader is not one of them. Mind you, the "daycare" is only open from 8:30am-10:30am M-F. 2 WHOLE HOURS. I have worked his nap time around these 2 precious hours. Normally, Baby only tolerates about 1 hour. That is just 1 hour a day for me to work out and try to get rid of my 8 month old "sharpei." Yet, this 1 hour has turned into 45, 30, sometimes 20 minutes because as soon as my 8 month old starts to fuss...STARTS to fuss...here comes the leader to let me know. "Um, your baby is starting to fuss." Then she stands there, waiting for me to drop everything and come to her rescue.
Today I snapped. I replied, "AND?!?!?! This is what you are paid for. You can't pick him up or try to calm him down? I've only been in here 20 minutes, you and (Baby) need to figure out what works for both of you because I need longer than 20 minutes." She looked at me like my head had just spun around as I vomited pea soup.
I stayed 10 more minutes, then sheepishly walked into the room with my tail between my legs, picked up Baby (who was happily playing), and left. So I totally get the Selfish Mommy Of The Day Award, but seriously, 20 minutes?

Biddy said...

ok, seriously...are we long lost half sisters??? That is soooo something I would do and take great pride in doing so!!

angela said...

i'm betting that the "swim teacher" doesn't even know how to swim.

i bet she never gets wet.

i'd ask about her credentials....

Augs Casa said...

DOH! ok, I was going to have a debate with you, but I am backing off. I know when I am beatin. Good for you for steaking up.

aimee / greeblemonkey said...

You. totally. rock.

cronznet said...

Good for you for trying to make the situation better! I quit my gym over exactly this sort of thing happening in the summer, except at our place the adults were entirely kicked out of the pool for the hours before the corporate work day so the kids could splash about aimlessly until 10 a.m. As a former competitive swimmer and a parent of a water-precocious kiddo, I'm so on your side!

deb said...

I am so impressed that you said something and yelled. I couldn't yell but I sure would like to.

Lisa Milton said...

I bet you are right on the money when you said it wouldn't be happening with affluent kids. It kills me that kids with the least advocacy get crapped on everywhere.

Sic 'em, Joys, sic 'em.

Makes me so happy to hear you fight the good fight over yonder.

Paige said...

The thing about you OTJ is you suck me into this story, forcing me to grunt "Yeah I would have been pissed too" only to sidetrack me with a very funny "me strong like bull."

Shauna said...

You rock!!

The Medium Swede said...

I'm sorry, I am still stuck in you in speedo.....

Christina_the_wench said...

My next performance review, I am taking your ass with me. Let's go for the 10% increase. Practice yelling at the swim coach more. Builds stamina.

slouching mom said...

You are one righteous babe.

And I love you for it.

liv said...

Golly. The wrath of joy sounds a little akin to the madness which I unleash on moms with kids OUT of seatbelts. You rock. And, I'm a little scared of you.

Stepping Over the Junk said...

sounds like the same a**holes that are running YOUR YMCA are running OUR YMCA.

Flawed & Disorderly said...

OTJ loses her cool sometimes!?! HOW AWESOME IS THAT!!!! I like you even more now! Good point though. I'd be annoyed, too. I probably would have been more cowardly about it and made an anonymous phone call to the school who employs the teacher, but I bet you made that lady think! Oh, the shame! Ha ha!

jen said...

this is the thing, isn't it. we aren't just the mother of ours, but we become the mother to many.

jess, good for you, you stood up for the right thing. and it mattered.

Mrs. Fierce Shoes said...

I got meme'd (is that a word?) by my friend over at A Schmitty Life and you've been selected for it's next victim!

INSTRUCTIONS: Remove the blog in the top spot from the following list and bump everyone up one place. Then add your blog to the bottom slot, like so:
1) The Life & Times of a First Time Stay At Home Mom
2) Mom of 2 and Wife of 1
3) BlondeMomBlog
4) It's A Schmitty Life
5) Life is short, buy the shoes

B. Goldenwood said...

One of the most well-written, dynamically entertaining posts I've read in a while.

urban-urchin said...

AMEN sister!!! Good for you!

Lawyer Mama said...

Oh, I love you, Jessica!

You know, when I was younger I actually taught the free swim classes at the Y. Even when I had kids who could actually swim, we worked on strokes and endurance. I'm horrified at what's going on at your Y. And shame on that Y, that director, and their "teacher."

Everyone at our current Y is great with the kids but, of course, we live in an affluent suburb. They kids do have some free time but they're well supervised and carefully watched.

Teach them to fly! Perfect!

theotherbear said...

Yep, I agree with the others - don't stop now, you're only just warmed up!

meno said...

I briefly taught swimming. I wouldn't think of leaving the kids in the pool without watching them. Besides, i hate it when rowdiness interupts the zen of my swim.

KC said...

Give them wrath, those lazy bastards!

Speedcat Hollydale said...

That song "YMCA" stunk it up too. I never liked it. :-)

Speedy Cat

This comment board is HOT!

kara said...

you rock girl! I wish I was there to cheer you on!

Blog Antagonist said...

OMG...I would have FUMING, which you clearly were, and good for you for saying something. If I were a parent who had paid $68 for swimming lessons, only to learn that they were being given unlimited free time, I would be really, really angry.

Moobs said...

Genius! The Kraken Wakes!

Aliki2006 said...

What a fantastic, fantastic post--hooray for you!

CG said...

You go girl! Maybe now those boys will get a lesson or two in more advanced swim techniques. You never know, ther could be the next Olympic Medalist in there just waiting to be taught more than to swim the length of the pool.
Rock ON!

EE said...

Good for you!!!!!!!!!!!!

Esmerelda said...

YOU ROCK!

I will be making a similar scene at my local pool.

Wait...they do get lessons, they get workouts...sorry for you.

Stick it to the man and stand up for what you believe in.

Mama en Fuego said...

What bullshit. I would have waited for the parents to come pick them up and then I would have let them in on the truth of the matter. As a parent paying for a class, they should be pissed, I would.

MotherBumper said...

I LOVE the wrath of JOY! The world needs more Joy :) (and so do the next generations).

Damselfly said...

Did you really?! You're amazing. I probably wouldn't have had the guts to do that.

Kevin Charnas said...

This time, I KNOW why I'm turned on.

I couldn't agree with you more.

theghelertertwins.blogspot.com said...

Good effen shit girl! Who are these people called adults?! Good for you for standing up and speaking your mind.

Rony

Ruth Dynamite said...

You, you, YOU ROCK! Hooyah! Tell 'em, sister.

PinkPowerSuit.com said...

LOL. Love that. That's so what I would have done... a year or two ago. I'm a little gentler now. Not to say that one is better than the other. Just different. ;-)

Makes me groan because I've heard similar things about lessons near us. I have too many kids to have to hang out and supervise to make sure my money is well spent.

Lazy teenagers make me want to rip my eyes out and eat them. Or make them take a bite.

DSB said...

Wow....I'd never have had the nerve to confront the swim teacher, but don't blame you at all for doing so. I can't believe they only require them to swim the length of one lap....as their 'lessons'.

What is scarier than anything is that they aren't even being properly watched.

ewe are here said...

One length of the pool? That's it?

I wonder if their parents know about this rather low goal post for their kids...

And I wonder if they know they're barely supervised when they are in the water...

This would drive me insane to see this... especially since when I was about 9 or 10, my 3 year old cousin drowned. Kids need to know how to swim... The teacher should be fired.

Christine said...

I'm wondering if this will get lost here, but i wanted you to know that this really touched me. This world needs more people like you who will stand up for what kids really need.

Jenny said...

Hi. Number 105 here. I know you probably won't get this far down but seriously? This post is gold. You're amazing.

kerflop said...

I know this entry is ancient history in blogland, but I've been exploring your site since we might be on a panel together and this made me cry. In a good and sad way. I hope it made a difference.

I'm a swimmer too, and I hope those kids can fly.