One thing about my current job is the lessons I’m learning along the way. The biggest one is: I’m still learning and growing. Hopefully, I’ll be doing both until the day I die. In 2017 I was offered what became a third job, that has now transitioned into my primary one.
A friend of mine whose husband works with mine, offered me the job. I was a little nervous at first. First off, it was winter in Northern America, and second, I’ve tried tutoring before—I was not good at teaching kids things. I’m not great at patience sometimes. I’m also very guilty of using overly complicated words and explanations because I’m feeling like I need to over compensate for something (imposter syndrome issues?). So, how was I going to explain concepts to kids, and keep them from taking on water, and get them to be strong at it?
Turns out my secret weapon was something I often felt ashamed of: my love for cartoons, and video games. You see, once the Tenor and I started moving around the US, I often was described as being “the Baby” of groups of friends (despite being the senior-most member) and being such a weird nerd. The real reason it scraped my nerves like a cheese grater to my elbow was because when boys are called nerds it was with cute endearing giggles.
But when I hopped in the pool, my nerdy side made things much easier. Pokemon, Yu-Gi-Oh, My Little Pony, Marvel, DC! Its like how when you looked up to your cartoon heroes as a kid, I was able to use them to help me relate ideas to the kiddos. At Level one they are as young as 5, and I’ve had screamers, kickers, pinchers and punchers. But using these cartoons and heroes as examples I was able to help get the kids to just TRY, and continue to practice.
“Aquaman puts his head under water”
”Wonder Woman and Black Panther swim for strong muscles!”
“Greninja is a water type, so he would swim his very best, like no one ever did!”
I even started watching Yu-Gi-Oh and other cartoons that the kids said they liked so I could relate to them better. Just showing them even a little interest in things they liked, helped because they knew I was trying to help.
The one thing I thought would be the hardest, became the easiest with minimal practice: being strict with the rules. With pools, or honestly any body of water (man-made or otherwise) theres no room for error. So while I thought the kids would hate me for being strict, the fact that I was the same with every kid (no playing favorites, and even the good swimmers had to follow the same rules), they respect and admire that. They know—if even on a subconscious level—when you’re BS-ing them!
When I see the kids in town, or they come back for other levels/more lessons, they are all excited to see me and say “hi Mrs Joie,” or, (my fave) ”Hi coach!” It’s a real ego boost knowing you made an impact. Watching them get better and better at their swimming. I’m currently teaching level 3, and its harder in ways, but I love it even more! This has become one of my favorite jobs!
My heart fills full and like, for once, the effort I put into work actually has a debit emotionally equal to that work! I’m happy to be where I’m at in this! And it’s great to be in my element: WATER!