The Wizard of the Y
Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," where Samhain is nearly upon us! May your ancestors greet you with pride and joy!
Okay, maybe not this kind of Pride and Joy.
I am still rehabbing my newly titaniumized hip joint. I have moved on to swimming pool therapy. Except that Mr. Johnson and I can't afford a swimming pool membership. So we did a kind of sneaky thing. We got a two week trial period at a posh health club in the neighboring borough. When that "tryout" runs out, I hope I'm ready to rehab on dry land.
Can't afford physical therapy either. $30 copay per visit. I'm doing the pool exercises on my own.
Today I was at the pool in the morning for about 90 minutes. (Who has time for this, day after day?) In that time, I saw four moms bring in their cute little tots for swimming lessons. The moms sat and made cellphone calls while their tots learned to swim with a certified instructor.
Watching those cute kids with their perky teacher reminded me of how my kids learned to swim.
A long time ago I decided to teach my daughter The Heir how to swim. Why pay someone else to do it? So I got a membership at the local YMCA (since torn down) and began teaching her myself.
Mind you, my definition of swimming is pretty simple. You've got to be able to tread water, swim underwater a short distance, dive or jump into deep water, and swim four laps, dog-paddling if necessary.
Well, The Heir was young and afraid of almost everything. She was especially reluctant to put her head underwater. We went to the YMCA week after week, and she started dog-paddling pretty well, and treading, but she wouldn't put her face in the water.
An elderly gentleman was always there in the pool, doing a little bit of exercise but otherwise just people-watching. Once when The Heir got out of the pool to fetch a noodle, I struck up a conversation with the guy. It turned out he was a retired elementary school principal, and he was getting a kick out of watching me with The Heir. I told him about the brick wall I'd hit, trying to get her to go underwater.
He said, "Tell her I'm a wizard, and I'll work magic on her."
So when The Heir came back to the pool, I pointed out the guy. Of course she had seen him there all along, but it was news to her that he was a magical wizard who would work magic so that going underwater wouldn't be scary anymore.
The Heir looked at the guy. He bowed his head grandly and made a lordly gesture.
I took The Heir over to the lane rope that I'd tried a thousand times to get her to duck under. This time, with one last glance back at The Wizard, she ducked right under, came up sputtering, and pronounced it not so bad. After a few more tries, she was comfortable going underwater.
We thanked The Wizard for his magic.
Many, many years have passed now. Both of my daughters can swim and ride bikes. I taught them. I'm glad. It's a pleasant memory, the little daughter slipping into my arms from a jump into the pool, or holding my hands as she kicks to the center. It's warming to think about those first tentative pedal-pushes on the bike, the sense of pride when it all fell in place.
Now that I'm sort of a wizard myself, I do sorely want to tell those cell phone moms at the posh health club that they're missing something big by allowing professionals to teach the kiddies to swim. Those kids won't make the Olympics ... why care about stroke technique? Why, when you can swirl your tot around in the water as she giggles and squirms?
Funny how you think of these things sometimes. I guess that Wizard of the Y has long ago gone to Great Sidhe, there to live with the bored gods forever. And if The Heir falls off a boat, she knows how to swim. And when I remember teaching her, I am full of grace.