My 6 year old took free swim lessons at the Y over spring break. He has never been around water but took right to it. At the end of the week the instructor made a point of telling me that she wanted him in her class. I can’t afford swim lessons, so it didn’t happen, not until the school year started and the charter school funds were available for extracurricular activities.

My son loves the water but looked really awkward at first. He is quite large for his age and didn’t have a clue how to even float.  He was determined though.  He listened intently to all instructions given and meticulously executed them.  He practiced and practiced and practiced.  I don’t have time to take him to the pool outside of class time, but he utilized every moment there to its fullest.  After only one month of classes he was moved up to the next level.

His instructor is amazing.  She notices everything going on in her class, in the pool, on the deck.  She doesn’t miss a thing.  She is on top of her game!  In fact, just this morning I was sharing with the charter school teacher that I think the swim instructor has eyes all around her head.  Absolutely nothing gets passed her.

This evening she bumped things up a bit.  She ran the kids through some paces but then took them to the deepest end of the pool.  My son has only been in swim lessons for 5 weeks.  He felt ready, but I didn’t.  She tread water about six feet out, and, one by one, the kids jumped to her.  She would then accompany them as they swam on their backs the length of the pool.

Toward the end of the class she dismissed the lifeguard and sent her home.

My son jumped into the pool.  He bobbed up and immediately flipped onto his back as he’d been taught. The instructor directed him to swim half the length of the pool and then get out and go on home.  At that point, she turned her back on him to continue on with the next jumper.  I watched from across the pool as my little boy glided across the water.  Not far from the exit point I could tell he was getting tired though.

I could feel the adrenaline shooting up from near the bottom of my sternum as I watched him struggle all alone in the middle of the pool.  I jumped out of my seat.  He held his chin up a little higher.  I sat back down.  My body tingled as the adrenaline pumped up, down, and out into my entire body as I stood, half squatted, and sat and then started the whole routine again.  His arm movements did not appear as smooth as they had.  His face was going under water in between each stroke and then reappearing as he raised his arm.

I turned to the mother next to me and said that I thought I should go get him.  She said that she could see that he was near the wall.  As she was saying that I looked up to see that his instructor was beside him.  In a flat second she had made it half the length of that large pool to encourage him the last few strokes.

He joyfully walked around the pool and over to me, completely carefree.  As he shared with great delight the details of what he had just accomplished, his instructor approached us.  She told me what had happened, as though I hadn’t seen it.  She said that she knew he could make it, so she felt okay turning her back on him.  He only panicked at the very last when he couldn’t feel the edge behind his head at the point he thought it should be.  When she saw that he was truly panicking she bolted to him.

I thanked her and told her that I am amazed how she sees everything around her all of the time.  She laughed and said, “That comes from growing up in New York.  You don’t ride those railways and not know what is going on in front of you, behind you, and to each side!”

She was laughing, but it struck me as significant.  Of course, at this point in my life I relate everything to domestic violence.  I eat thoughts of domestic violence for breakfast.  I am plagued by violent dreams in the night.  So, again I made an instantaneous translation.  She was raised in a potentially dangerous environment, where she learned to be hyper-vigilant in order to stay safe.  That unfortunate necessity has given her the ability to keep children safe as she teaches them another skill that may save their lives.  What the thugs of New York City meant for evil, God has used for good.

I chewed on that thought for awhile.  Perhaps, just perhaps, the jumpy, PTSD hyper-vigilance that my children and I “suffer” from will serve us or someone else in the future.  Perhaps, just perhaps, God has a plan to use for good what my husband meant for evil.