Conversations with Ben while in line for the diving board at the public pool…
Me: So this time, I want you to do the approach like you did last time, but tuck your knees and then dive in head first. Also, make sure you circle your arms all the way back after you hurdle.
Ben: MOM. Do I have to? I’m really terrible at this.
Me: Yes! Just a few more times. You said you want to be on the diving team. Wouldn’t you rather have me show you the basics now than show up to the first day totally clueless?
Ben: uuuuughhhh. But I’m so bad… It’s humiliating. I’m going to commit sudoku.
Ben: *elbows my side like an old-school vaudeville comic* Get it? Cause seppuku is violent ritual suicide by disembowelment, but sudoku is a math game? And they sound similar?
Me: Yes. I get it. It’s your favorite joke. I’ve heard it once or twice before.
8 or 9 year old kid who just went off the board climbs out of the pool and cuts in front of me in line. He waves his friend over to stand in front of him. Friend dumps several gummy candies into his wet hand. Kid tosses them into mouth. Neither acknowledge me, Ben, or the 6 other kids behind us.
Me: Uh, hey guys? Really? There’s a line back here.
Kid turns and appraises me, trying to decide if I’m just a bossy kid with sun damage and crows feet. He glances toward the cluster of moms on the bleachers under the shade and back at me, raising an eyebrow as if to say, “Are you lost?” and then moves directly behind me and Ben. Friend follows.
Me: Really? You’re just going to cut all those little kids now?
Kid: *points to Friend indignantly* He was there.
Me: Oh whatever.
Me (to Ben): Did you see that? Little kids are such cutters! What the hell?!
Ben: Of course they are. Have you never met a little kid before? That’s like all they ever do. Can’t we take a break for a little bit? I’m gonna decapitate myself.
Me: No, no. You can do this. Just watch me once more and do it like that.
Ben: I’m not any good. It’s embarrassing…
Me: You’re fine! It’s your first time trying it. And I’m really not a very good teacher.
Ben: You’re right, this is entirely YOUR fault. You’re an awful teacher. You just say, “Do this.” and when I try what you did you go, “Ok, good, that’s right, good job, oh wait, NO, not like that!, uh… good try, let’s do it again. but not like that next time.”
Me: Sorry… I don’t know how to break it down. I’m old and I can’t remember how I was taught, I just know how to do it. Can’t you just watch me and do it like I do?
Ben: Do they have morphine in the lifeguard stand?
Me: Why, does your back hurt from when you landed last time?
Ben: No, that was just another suicide joke. I was trying to get as many in as possible.
Me: That one was kind of weak. Here, take my turn and just try once more.
Me: You’ve got this, I know you can do it. Yes, that’s right! Good job-wait, not like that! No! Uh… no. But that was a good try. Let’s just do it once more. But more like this, here, watch me.