The ambiance at the pool yesterday was tense. I don't know if it was the kids or my own shattered brain, but nothing seemed to be going smoothly. None of the games in the water really seemed to work and we ended up just letting the group play jellyfish for most of the time.
It wasn't just our group that was off, the maître-nageur also seemed to be having difficulty with his group. Granted, he has some of the most challenging boys with him, but yesterday, things seemed to escalate beyond the realms of normal 7 year old boy behavior.
At one point, the maître-nageur punished the entire group and left them sitting on the side of the pool until the three main trouble makers, Valentin, Alexi, and Tomai, understood how horrible they were being. He then made the whole group line up on one side of the deep end and, one by one, swim as fast as they could to the other side.
The only problem was that some of these kids aren't really psychologically ready to get across that pool. Sure, they know how to kick and pull with their arms, but they just don't know that they know how to swim.
I saw Valentin dive in with a huge grin on his face. He made it halfway across, close to where I was with my group, and then stopped. He bobbed up and down for a minute, and then between moments of sheer panic, he began to frantically search around him for a wall or a kick board. I glanced at the maître-nageur who was standing on the side of the pool watching, all the while Valentin becoming more and more distressed.
Finally, my heart couldn't handle it anymore and I began to swim towards this boy I've known since he was 3 years old. I made two strong strokes, but by then the maître-nageur had already beaten me to him.
Later on in the changing rooms, Valentin looked at me with his large dark brown eyes now filled with fear and said,
"He was going to drown me. He was going to drown me."
"No, Valentin," I sobbed as the tears poured down my face and into the hole in my heart. "No, I wouldn't have let him. Never. Never."