My Elijah started a swim class about 3 months ago now. It meets once a week for a half an hour. Not a lot of time to learn in, but we're not exactly training for the Special Olympics, either. We don't have a pool, so there is no imminent danger. And yet, anyone who has swam a lap or two has experienced the heart pounding workout that is swimming. A perfect form of exercise for a little one who struggles to gain strength.
When I first called the swim school, I explained that my child has learning delays and is smaller than his typical peers. The response was met without a beat, "Okay, well let's have him try a class and if it doesn't work, we can discuss privates." Okay. Good plan. Elijah amazed me in that first class: He blew bubbles in the water when asked, waited his turn and tried kicking those little legs of his! So far, he's been through a few teachers due to scheduling, but he ended up in a younger, male teacher's class once everything shook down. There were 3 other typically developing kids in the class in the same age range, but the teacher was very timid. He had trouble laying down the rules. My kid--well, actually, both of my kids, sense weakness and spring. It becomes a free-for-all of behavior. An, "I can do whatever I want and the teacher won't do anything about it" buffet. But, I have a problem with that. So, I switched his class. To a more experienced, beefy, male teacher who never smiles.
What I've experienced since Elijah began this swim class, is something I've seen again and again, and yet it continues to surprise me. What I've experienced, is watching how my son's exuberance for life, his complete joy at attempting a new task, his giant smile that lights up more than just his face, begins to rub off on the people around him. The unsmiling swim instructor has clearly fallen for my kid. He gets him out of the pool last, and...maybe I'm projecting...but it seems as though he relishes Elijah's hug until he places him, smiling & safely, onto the pool's edge.
There is out and out laughter from the line of parents perched in the chairs, eyes glued to their own children, and yet, Elijah seems to steal the spotlight more than any other. His turn comes up and the instructor extends his hand and tells him to put his arms up and go....Elijah looks intently at the instructor, no one sure that he's actually going to follow directions and then, with a glee unlike I've ever seen before, throws his arms into the air with a belly laugh and jumps wholeheartedly right toward the instructor. Laughter erupts from the row of parents. It's true. It's contagious.
Today, I couldn't stop smiling. I laughed with the other parents, because our kids are so, so adorable in their swim class, and I couldn't help but be proud of my little guy. I think he's actually learning to swim. It doesn't look graceful, but he's under water, holding his breath and moving. I'm proud that he's the kid that makes everyone smile- even the beefy, unsmiling swim instructor types. At the end of class when I came to the side of the pool to get Elijah, the instructor turned to me and said, "That's one fun kid."
I know...it's completely Contagious.