Friday, July 31, 2009


“No! No! I can’t!” she screamed repeatedly. Her shrieks grew louder and louder.

Kimberly years ago at the shallow end.

What began as a beginner swimming lesson at the Y for our Kimberly and Kent, was not the only lesson learned that day many years ago.

Today, however, I watch our grandchildren at various stages of learning to swim and dive. Now Kimberly, Kent and Katy teach them. We cheer our "grandfish" on and frolick with them in the pool, vacationing at Kent's house:

I remember that day so long ago with their parents who were the students learning to swim back then. I watched their instructor march the kids like little ducks to the deep end and encourage them to jump into her arms as she tread.

“Come on! You can do it!” One by one they overcame fear and jumped in, until she came to the adolescent who stood a head taller than her fellow students. Pinning herself against the wall, she was last in the duck line.

Her tears escalated into sobs by the time it was her turn. She shook her head no over and over as her sobs grew louder. Other instructors took their charges out of the water and shut down their swim sessions to come to her aid.

“No! I can’t!” she bawled like a four year old.

“Jump in! I’ll catch you!” encouraged the instructor still treading water.

Another teacher stood beside the trembling girl encouraging, “Go ahead. You can do it.”

“No! No! I can’t!” she shrieked over and over.

Three instructors, twenty or so kids and several parents all waited. And waited.

“Why do they pamper her?” I finally snapped to the mother beside me. “Her fear only gets worse the longer they delay.”

The third coach tossed a life preserver to the weary instructor who remained in the water. It took both adults to finally drag the girl to the water and lower her into the arms of her teacher.

“Well, it’s about time!” I thought. “They should have done that fifteen minutes ago.”

Another worker appeared beside me in the crowd. She kept her eyes on the girl and spoke softly, “That girl went boating with her parents and brother last summer. The boat capsized, and her father managed to save only her. She watched her mother and brother drown. Her dad insists she learn to swim.”

Her words stung. I gazed at the drenched child, trembling as she climbed out of the pool. I had not witnessed typical childish fear—I’d just seen a young girl cross a terrifying mountain.

Forgive me, Child.

Forgive me, Lord.

Keep Your arm around my shoulder, and Your hand over my mouth. –The Mariner’s Prayer

Lesson learned.

Kimberly and Kent before lessons.

His and yours truly,



  1. I've been in that position more times than I'd like to admit! Thanks for the great reminder to "set a watch Oh Lord, and keep the door of my lips!"

  2. As always, you have the best stories ever. And you even managed to put up a video!