A swimming tale

The local city recreation center offers a beginning swimming class for young people, and we enrolled our daughter in one this last summer. The class was a Monday – Thursday class, running for about 45 minutes each day for two weeks.

It turned out that there were two members of the four-student class who were not interested in learning. After continuous disruptions during the first day (which I’ll describe in a moment), the girl ran out of the pool, through the locker room, and was outside the building before she happened to be intercepted by her mother who was coming to pick up the kids. By the second day it became clear that they were going to be so disruptive that it would inhibit our daughter and the other student from learning what they came to do.

I prepared a letter for Glorajean to turn into the recreation center. She printed it, and carried it with her to class on the third day. It read:

Dear Recreation Center Director,

My daughter is enrolled and currently attending the 10:00-10:30 A.M. Swimming Lessons for Preschool Levels 1-3. She is enjoying the class, and her teacher, Paul, appears to be excellent, from what I am able to observe from upstairs. However, my concern is that two of the students, a brother and sister, are very disruptive to the class.

In my observations on Tuesday, these two students will not stay put when Paul repeatedly asked them to. The older one ran out into the water, causing Paul to interrupt lessons with another student while he went off to retrieve the insubordinate pupil. The other continued to run around on the stairway and deck in the corner area of the pool, despite being repetitively warned not to. The instructor did the best he could to keep the class moving forward, but with frequent interruptions created because of these two children. This caused the other two students, including my daughter, to miss out on instruction that she desires to receive and that we paid tuition for her to take part in.

Let me be clear that I do not fault the instructor in this. It appears that he is capable and doing the best he can while dealing with two students who act unruly. I also understand that this class is merely to provide basic swimming techniques and instruction, so I carry no unreasonable expectation or aspirations beyond that for my daughter’s participation. My concern is for my daughter and the other student, who are not getting the attention they desire because of the potentially dangerous behavior of the others. If the disruptive pupils are merely coming for babysitting purposes, perhaps they should be removed from the pool area – for their own safety and for the benefit of those who have come to learn, and instead be babysat in a quiet and less exciting area of the building.

Thank you for your attention to this matter.


My commentary on the letter:

Paragraph 1: To be clear, this happened in the past. At this time, she is no longer “enrolled and currently attending.” I didn’t write about this and post it on the Internet while the class was ongoing.

Paragraph 2: “insubordinate pupil” is my favorite phrase of the entire letter. I just hoped that the letter would eventually be shown to the mother of these two, who would read it, and exclaim “they called my kids a what?!” and then have to look in a dictionary to find out what it means.

Paragraph 3: “I also understand that this class is merely to provide basic swimming techniques and instruction, so I carry no unreasonable expectation or aspirations beyond that for my daughter’s participation.” I added this sentence because I foresaw that if the mother of the students ever saw this complaint, she would immediately dismiss it by thinking “well those stuck up parents are expecting their daughter to come out of the class winning gold medals and are just looking to blame me because she is not excelling yet” – nope, our expectations of the class are mentioned so that excuse won’t fly.

“removed from the pool area – for their own safety” See how I have concern for them and their safety. Ain’t I sweet?

There was one more thing I wanted to add, but didn’t quite know where to fit it in. It would have been, “If these children are permitted to remain disruptive to the learning of others, I will seek out a refund of class tuition to be paid back – not by the recreation center (who is doing everything in their power to provide a fine and safe learning opportunity), but personally by the parents or guardians of these hoodlums.” Well, I hadn’t worked out the exact language yet, but it would have been something like that.

So how did the story work out?

On that third day, with the letter tucked into her bag, Glorajean decided to wait until the end of class to see if anything changed before she turned in the written complaint. Much to her surprise and relief, the two students were moved that day to a different class… a class that featured instructors, one serving as instructor and the other as baby sitter. So my literary masterpiece never saw the light of day, until today.

Where was the parent?

As near as we could tell, she was across the street jogging on the exercise trail. While the kids were learning to swim, she was taking her “personal time.”

Did their behavior get better?

On Monday and Tuesday of the second week, the kids were absent. Amazingly, all classes at the pool went very smoothly.

On Wednesday, mom and kids were back. A substitute teacher happened to be filling in for their class, and the mother advised the substitute, “Don’t let her leave early; she’s a fast one.” The substitute didn’t put up with their misbehavior.  A director came and removed the kids from the pool.

Glorajean just happened to be in the right place at the right times to witness a couple interesting scenes. First, the return of the mother from jogging. She did not find her kids in the pool, and asked around. When she learned that her sweethearts had been removed from the pool, she was furious. With her kids in each hand, she argued enthusiastically with the director about the unfairness of taking her kids out of the pool, when she had clearly paid the enrollment fees to have her kids instructed in swimming (and on and on). The director was being firm, explaining the safety of the children and other patrons of the pool was of prime concern, and his words were going in one ear and, unobstructed, right out the other. After dressing and moving toward the exit, Glorajean happened to witness the mother arguing with another (apparently higher up) official of the recreation center, with much the same arguments. How could they? Why? What did they do to deserve this? I paid good money, and not for this kind of treatment!

On the final day, Thursday, the kids were back, and back at it again. Mom was missing in action, away jogging so that she would not have to witness her children’s educational experience. The kids were just as rambunctious as ever.

The moral of the story? Jogging Mom should have hired a babysitter, because I’m quite certain that the kids got nothing from the class. Unfortunately, do to her entitlement mentality, neither did anyone else. Except I’m certain that every baby sitter in her area knew about those kids and either wouldn’t take the job or raised their rates too high to afford them.

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