The swimming lesson

I went with Zak and the kids to the pool yesterday for their swimming lesson. While Zak went in the water with our baby, I watched our son and his group. It suddenly struck me that 9 out of 10 instructors were male – for preschool swimming lessons.

It is unusual to see that many male instructors with kids that young. I find it tremendously positive. In a world where the extremely large majority of my son’s teachers will be female, it is even more important for him to have positive male role models. True, it’s often in physical education and similar contexts that you see male teachers. But better there than not at all. So I was happily surprised. Especially since our son is usually more comfortable around women – he’s a flirt – I find it important for him to be challenged out of his comfort zone.

But it also made me feel better about society. I read Lenore Skenazy’s Free Range Kids Blog, where she talks about helicopter parenting, but also about how paranoid society has become when it comes to kids’ safety. The two subjects go hand in hand, since it is this constant fear for children’s safety that stops parents from letting them enjoy the freedom they, themselves, enjoyed at the same age. In one of her latest entries, Skenazy mentioned an article in a parenting magazine that suggested how to react if you found out, after telling your daughter she could have a sleepover at her friend’s house, that only her divorced single dad would be there. The article suggested telling the dad that unfortunately you did not feel comfortable with the situation and would be willing to have the girls at your place instead. I found this appalling – as if all males were potential pedophiles and you had to keep your kids away from them, and from great experiences, instead of teaching your kids how to react if someone touched them inappropriately. (Not to mention that, if you really want to be paranoid, inappropriate things could happen even if the mother was in the house.)

Anyway, seeing the male swimming teachers made me feel better. They have to touch the kids! They help them climb the ladder, hold them when they’re lying back in the water, etc. And, thank God!, it doesn’t seem to create any issues with the parents.

Maybe there’s hope for the future of society?

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