By Heather O.
Jacob had his first swim class of the fall session today. We walked in, not late, but not exactly early, and the director of the program was already assembling the kids into their classes. I recognized the director from previous sessions, but I thought, who are all the old men gathered around her? I found myself looking around for the teachers, you know, the young lifeguards.
The director announced the teacher for Jacob’s class, and it turned out to be one of those old men! Seriously, this guy was at least 50, and didn’t exactly look, um, very physically fit. The other teacher I got a good look at looked like he was pushing 80, but at least he didn’t have a belly. Up til now, Jacob’s swim class has always been taught by young, perky, extremely physically fit young female lifeguards who make you feel glad you don’t have to stand next to them in a swim suit. You expect me to believe that these guys can handle all these young kids? Wow, they must be really scraping the bottom of the barrel to get teachers this session, I thought.
All of this flashed through my head in the 4 seconds it took to get the kids over to where they were supposed to get in the water. I took my seat on the bleachers next to the pool, and watched the class very carefully, ignoring the director’s instructions about how to keep your kid from pooping in the pool.
And, wonder of wonders, Jacob’s teacher actually knew what he was doing! He got into the pool in a silly and goofy way that made all the kids laugh, and after the kids would swim to him, he would pick them up and huck them high up in the air and let them swim back to the wall, grinning all the way. The lifeguards with the perky boobs and 19 year old butt never did that, I thought. He tested them on all their strokes, and actually seemed to give them real instructions about how to improve, other than just the vacuous praise like, “Way to go, you’re awesome!” that I was used to hearing.
So once again, I am confronted with a prejudice I never knew I had: Swimming lessons are a woman’s job. OK, I’ll admit, it’s not a prejudice that is actually very earth shattering or life changing, (I mean, I don’t foresee male swim teachers of America bonding together and marching on Washington for their rights to wear Speedos anytime in the near future) but nonetheless, it was a perception that I was unaware that I harbored. It makes me wonder what other sexist notions I have. I’m sitting here trying to think of something cute and pithy to say, but I really can’t identify what else I think is only a woman’s job. Yet, clearly, if there is one, there must be more, right? Hmmm….
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