Monday, September 27, 2010

While I was at the pool swimming my customary mile on Saturday, I saw this father escorting his reluctant son to the pool for lessons. It was about 9 in the morning, they both looked like they would rather be in bed, but that didn't stop either one of them. The father got his book and sat in a chair that was near the pool, and his son went to the instructor and got ready for his lesson--kind of..

You see the kid kept staring at me while I was doing my swim. I'd get to the end of my lap, and as I prepared to make the turn, I'd see this kid just looking at me. His father was oblivious to this at first because he was knee deep in his book but the instructor was clearly getting agitated. At one point the instructor kind of raised her voice, and when the father heard this, he yelled at his son to pay attention. The son did a better job of watching me and going through with this lesson, but he still wasn't totally focused on his lesson. I wondered if this kid was a stone cold killer or something, but I was determined to finish my workout, so I kept right on going.

Finally, I finished up in the pool, and as I walked away the kid kept on staring, but he waved at me, and I waved back. Clearly the kid wasn't crazy, he was just being a kid I suppose. But as I got ready to walk out of the pool area, his dad stopped me and we had this brief conversation.

The Dad: Hey, I'm really sorry about my son staring you down like that
Me: Its no problem man
The Dad: No I'm really sorry about that. But to be honest, I think you're the first black man my son has ever seen swimming before, and he was probably mesmerized
Me: Oh, well that's flattering, you don't swim?
The Dad: I haven't gotten around to taking lessons. His mother swims though
Me: Well you should learn man, I just learned last year
The Dad: Really? Well hell (yes he really said this), I need to get on the ball, I'm 40, its not too late right?
Me: Not at all I'm 35 now, but I was 34 when I learned. But let me run (I can only take so much small talk) Does your son have swim lessons every Sat morning?
The Dad: Yep every Sat. morning at 9
Me: I'll make it a point to swim at that time too, maybe I'll chat with your son next time
The Dad: Thanks man, that means a lot
Me: No problem

Now..a few things

1)As I walked back to the locker room to change, I couldn't help but smile. It is RARE that I get put in a position to be a role model to anyone not related to me, so the fact that I could possible inspire a father and son combo who look like me too? That is a win-win

2)The father was about 100lbs overweight, which made me think maybe his son doesn't believe he is athletically inclined at all. I remember when I was younger, my father was spry and athletic, and it made playing sports with him that much more fun and challenging. Had he been overweight or too big to play football or basketball, I think I'd have looked at him different and I might have lost respect for him too. So this kid was could have been staring at me, because I looked his dad's age and I was in shape..This may sound shallow, but these are the dynamics between fathers and sons. This is part of the reason I try so hard to stay in shape and eat right..I want my son to be frustrated because I'm kicking his ass at all sports, not the other way around.

3)It annoyed me that the father was basically reading the whole time his son was swimming. No he doesn't have to be an overbearing dad, but damn, cheer your son on, encourage him, let him know you're there. Don't just bark out instructions when he's messing up..

Ok rant over

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