Lessons From the Pool


Eight year old boys aren’t especially noted for self-control — especially where candy is involved.  This summer I had Josiah at swimming lessons and he was usually the only student in his group.  The last day of a two-week session is usually a “fun” day, and we had reached this “graduation” event.  As usual, Josiah was the only student, but he enjoyed the one-on-one attention from his instructor. As the session concluded, the guppies, and jellyfish, and dolphins, and sharks (names given to the various levels) plodded out of the water and began to towel-off.  Josiah was standing near an instructor who had a rather large group of younger children.

She was giving “dum-dum” suckers to each of her pupils. I could see it in his eyes; he desperately wanted one of those dum-dums.  Self-control is something we have been working on with Josiah, so, I watched.  She didn’t offer him one of the lollipops. (To be honest, it made me mad.)  Josiah held his tongue. So did I.  I helped him get ready and we left the pool.  When we got to the car, I asked him about it.

“Josiah, you saw that teacher giving suckers to her students, didn’t you?”
“Yes, Daddy.”
“You wanted one, didn’t you?”
“Yes, Daddy.”

I told him how proud I was of him for using his self-control, and that I was going to reward his behavior by getting him a treat way better than a silly, old, sucker. So, I took him to Steak ‘n Shake for a milkshake (I think as much to appease my offense as a parent having their child excluded, as to reinforce his good choice.)

I have to wonder, though, how many milkshakes have I missed out on, because I had to have the sucker.
“It’s not fair, God!”
“I want what they have!”
“Why can’t I have a sucker, now?”

Well, possibly, because there is a milkshake waiting in the wings.