I could smell the chlorine before I’d even heard the splashing. Moisture ran down the tile walls in intricate patterns. The excitement in that small room was deafening.
Every parent understands the urgency for swimming lessons, especially when you live by the sea. We invest in the skill, practice with them regularly, and happily sit for hours in a steamy room, completely ruining our hair-do for the day.
This was that season for me. Even though Jeffreys Bay was a small town, we were still privileged to find a swimming teacher who passionately taught lessons in the 10x10m pool at the local Policlinic.
When I entered, Rachel was halfway across the pool and swimming fiercely. Front crawl. No, she wasn’t traveling fast but, man, were her arms moving.
Alongside the pool walked her teacher, loudly exclaiming so Rachel could hear over the sound of her own splashing…
“Awesome, Rachel! Awesome!”
I was slightly confused. Her teacher had been telling me for a couple of weeks now how difficult it had been to get Rachel to breathe properly.
“Shauna, please remind her to breathe.”
Of course, she would do it correctly while practicing on the sidelines, but as soon as she entered the water, she would just swim like crazy and completely forget about breathing. //
This sight before me didn’t make sense. I mean, I’m all for positive reinforcement, but this seemed a little ‘over the top,’ don’t you think?
I calmly made my way over to the teacher and asked her, “Why are you telling her she’s awesome? She’s doing it all wrong.”
The teacher stopped dead in her tracks and stared at me with that dear-in-headlights look. Then she burst out laughing.
Noooo! The Afrikaans word for ‘breathe’ is ASEM.
I’m saying “Asem, Rachel. Asem!
Breathe, Rachel. Breathe!”
Well, that was a first for all of us. We laughed until tears ran down our cheeks like the condensation on the walls.
Culture shock even hits in the swimming pool!
It’s so funny to remember this run-in with language issues, but it’s also a great reminder, isn’t it?
It’s so important to make sure that we’re SPEAKING THE SAME LANGUAGE.
- Not just English verses Afrikaans, but do we understand each other’s intentions and implications?
- How many disagreements have happened in our lives as a result of miscommunication? I thought you said this, but you really meant that.
Even when we’re all speaking English, we need to ask ourselves regularly, “Do I really understand you?”
Genesis 11:6 says it this way:
What a powerful thing to truly understand another person! Click To Tweet
“Look!” he said. “The people are united, and they all speak the same language. After this, NOTHING they set out to do will be impossible for them!”
Every Friday, I join an inspiring group of writers to write for FIVE MINUTES on a one-word prompt. No editing. No revising. Just WRITE. This week, the prompt word was BREATHE.
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For more information on Five Minute Friday, check out Kate Motaung’s site!