Going back to school is tough financially. Thankfully, I am able to make it by on federal student loans but even the accumulating debt has loomed over my head for the past year. My class schedule didn’t allow for time to work until this summer. I’ve been applying to job after job with no luck so far.
In the mean time, I posted a flyer for swim lessons in my apartment complex; this has always been a sure fire way to make cash. Besides the money, I was excited to teach again because I’ve missed it. In my small way, I am teaching somebody a skill they will remember for the rest of their lives. I’m helping them conquer a fear, which is pretty incredible because how many people get that kind of chance in life?
I started coaching a summer league team when I was 15 years old until I graduated from college when I was 22. At 16, I became certified to teach swim lessons and taught group and private lessons at the local city pool and in my neighborhood. Every summer, I’d put out the word lessons were starting up again and my schedule quickly became packed with kids of all ages and levels.
Somewhere along the line, I just didn’t feel like teaching as much. Embarrassingly, part of this came from not wanting to get wet with chlorinated water for 30 minutes or an hour at a time. Trivial, I know. I didn’t get as excited or challenged by figuring out the best way to help a child swim. Between working different full time jobs and moving around the past two years, I haven’t really been able to teach that many lessons.
Today, I felt that spark again. I love teaching people how to swim. I love winning little kids over and teaching them how much fun the water can be. I love figuring out the right things to say because every person learns differently.
A mother recently called me for lessons with her two children, ages 2 and 4. Her friend was also interested with two children, ages 2 and 3. Sounds great. We discussed prices and schedules and decided to meet two days ago. The lesson was disheartening. The kids were screaming, wriggling out of my arms, and practically running away from me. Of course, this makes sense since I am a complete stranger taking them into the water (a scary place). Normally, I can get kids to calm down within 10 minutes through different tactics but not this lesson. They screamed for 30 minutes straight and didn’t follow one direction. Fortunately, the mothers were very willing to work with my suggestions and scheduled another lesson for today. Somewhere in between the mothers decided they wanted to learn instead and hold off on their children’s lessons.
Amazing! In 10 minutes the kids were scrambling to join their mom’s learning how to swim. I was so proud of the mothers for taking that step to learn something new and coincidently it peaked their kids’ interest too. At the end of the lessons, I stayed 5 minutes to play around with the kids getting them to splash me, give high fives, and forget how scary I was to them an hour earlier.
I’ve been on a small high since the lesson and couldn’t help but sharing. I realized just how much I miss coaching and teaching swimming. The look of determination as somebody tries a new skill for the 10th time followed by the look of triumph when they actually succeed is truly priceless. Seeing that proud grin on a child’s face as they show off swimming across the pool gives me a deep sense of pure happiness.
What about you? What gives you pure happiness?