Drowning In Bad Parenting

, , , | Related | March 22, 2019

(I am a volunteer at a swimming club that completely runs on volunteers. We have our licenses, but we are not hired professionals who teach on a daily basis. As a result, we have fewer students than the pool’s own swimming school. We also teach more than the pool’s swimming school, from the actual “how to swim,” to water polo, snorkeling, survival, etc. In order to get children to participate in sports more, one large supermarket chain has Sports Weeks, where you can save stamps and when you have a full card, you can sign up for three free lessons at a sporting club of choice. This is one of the ways our club hopes to get more students, so we always participate, and usually, the kids end up in my group for their first lesson. I teach in the pool that is three metres deep; you need to have your basic swimming certificate to swim there, which is mentioned in the rules.  At Sports Weeks, I get a batch of children and adults, but when I’ve just started my lesson, a late-comer comes in with his mother. It’s a little boy, about five years old. I immediately sign one of the coordinators over, because of an uneasy feeling.)

Me: “Good afternoon, ma’am. Here for Sports Weeks?”

Mother: *speaks with an accent and minimal Dutch* “Yes, yes. My son is here for Sports Weeks.”

Me: “Well, the lesson already started, but he is welcome. Which certificate does he already have?”

Mother: “Yes, yes. He here for swimming lessons.”

Me: “Eh, but which certificate does he have? Does he have A? B? Or C?”

(Our basic national swimming certificates go from A, the first, to C, the last.)

Mother: “Yes, yes, swimming lessons.”

Me: “Ma’am… can he swim?!”

Mother: “Yes, yes… swimming lessons! My boy swim very good!”

(At this time the coordinator has reached me and overheard me.)

Me: “Ma’am, please talk to [Coordinator]; she will assist you.”

(I return to my lesson, which was already taken over by my father, who is also a volunteer and saw me talking to the mother. Since he’s my father and we have been teaching together for over a decade, we are quite in sync, so we just take over when we think the other needs help or needs an extra pair of eyes. Eventually, the mother and child leave, and after class, the coordinator talks to us.)

Coordinator: “You were absolutely right, [My Name]; that kid couldn’t swim at all!”

Me: “Maybe she misunderstood the rules of Sports Weeks?”

Coordinator: “No, she understood it. She just thought that she could use this to bypass the waiting list and have her child get free basic swimming lessons. She honestly thought three lessons was enough to teach her child how to swim! She didn’t understand why we wouldn’t allow her child to swim along, and she called us racists.”

Me: “She… What?!”

Coordinator: “Apparently, refusing a child who can’t swim and will drown the moment he jumps into the pool is racism. She said she will write the head of Sports Weeks and we will be banned from the list.”

(We did get the complaint sent through, but with the mention, “We laughed really hard about this,” and a new list of participants.)

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