I was at the Swimming Pool in Brown Stone Apartments, near Loyola College. I saw my daughter Mitra jumping into the pool and swimming like a champion. The entire crowd in the swimming pool started to cheer her “Mitra… Mitra… Mitra…” That was her first day to the swimming class and Mitra was swimming without any tube… without any support… and without any fear.
I really couldn’t believe what I saw …
Again…. there was a S P L A S H … water all over my face… this time, it wasn’t from the pool… but from a glass which was emptied on my face by my wife.
“Saro… get up from the bed. It is time to take Mitra to the swimming class…” My wife woke me up at 5.30 am in the morning, forcing me to get ready for the class at 6 am.
Also read: CC2 - Go Veg (Organize your Speech)
Fellow toastmasters, and guests…
That was Mitra’s first day of the swimming class. With lots of dreams and hopes, I took my daughter to the swimming pool. Since it was summer, there were a number of kids at the pool to learn swimming. All the kids were having fun at the pool. However, little Mitra was afraid of even getting into the water with a rubber tube. She cried … She protested and she made a big fuzz. Finally she agreed to get into the water... with a promise “Dad! You should sit near the pool and keep an eye on me … all the time”. I pulled a chair and sat near the pool, keeping my eyes glued to Mitra.
The swimming coach uncle … that’s how my daughter calls him… a man in his mid 20s wearing a black swimming cap, dragged her into the pool. A very energetic and aggressive guy! The reason why I’m calling him as aggressive is - Whatever I was dreaming, he was expecting, or rather forcing kids to do on the first day.
My daughter’s coach – the uncle with the black cap is special. He coined a nick name for every kid. There was a fat kid and his name was “Urundai”. There was a lean kid and her name was “Oama Kuchi”. My daughter’s nick name was “Bayandangolli”. He was constantly scolding kids for not performing; he splashes water on their face when they were struggling for breath; he throws kids into the water when they are afraid to even get into the water. When days went on, my daughter even got terrified on seeing the Uncle with the Black Cap.
From great expectations of swimming like a champion I wanted my daughter to at least float in the water without a tube. Days went on… but her confidence level was very low. 2nd day…she didn’t take off the tube… 3rd day… she didn’t take of the tube… 4th day… she didn’t take off the tube… it went on for 10 consecutive days. On the 11th day, there was a change… my daughter got a new rubber tube.
Not just that, she also was assigned to a new swimming coach. A man in his early 30s, wearing a white swimming cap. He was very friendly with the kids… he was cheering them even for a small accomplishment of theirs. He cheered when a kid got into the water for the first time, he cheered when a kid swam without a tube for the first time… he cheered when a kid swims from one end to the other and reaches the finish line. What he did was similar to what we do in a Toastmasters Club – provided a very supportive, friendly and encouraging platform for members to fail safely and learn. In just 2 days of getting coached by Uncle with the white cap, my daughter learned to swim without the tube. Tears were on my eyes when I saw her going from one end of the pool to the other without any support. I stood from my chair and gave a thunderous applause to her when she reached her finishing line for the first time.
Fellow Toastmasters, all of us play Mr. Uncle with the White Cap when we are in Ruby Hall. But, what cap do we wear in the real world. What cap do we wear when we deal with our friends or class mates? What cap do we wear when there is a non-performing member in our team, at work? What cap do we wear when our spouse makes a mistake? When you want to get the best performance from someone, don’t slap… but clap… like the uncle with the white cap.