Thursday, March 04, 2010

Genetic Guilt

The Boy had another swim lesson last night, and it wasn't pretty. As miserable as he was, it all came rushing back to me.

As a parent, it's painful to watch your kids struggle with the exact same things you did.

I was never any kind of swimmer. I had the rotten luck to go to school districts that had pools, and where lots of kids had plenty of practice in water. That meant 13 years of mandatory swim units in gym class. It was horrible. I still remember some of them, and not happily.

Unlike other sports, you can't really fake swimming. Being "in over your head" isn't just a metaphor. And when you combine a certain gawkiness with an unforgiving medium and gym teachers who had the people skills of, well, gym teachers...

Watching TB gasp and flail and eventually come over to the bleachers with a defeated, hangdog expression, I knew exactly how he felt.

It's usually fun, if sometimes embarrassing, to see shades of yourself in your kids. They'll show some recognizable mannerisms, and sometimes pick up on quirky little things that you realize later are now 'family' traits. It's even more fun when they improve on something, or give it a new twist that immediately seems like it should have been there the whole time.

But those little inheritances cut both ways. When you see your own flaws, your own failings, reflected back at you...

Sorry, big guy. We're not water people.

And gym teachers have always been like that.