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The Waiter

Waiting...

Once upon a time, I was a very impatient young person. I couldn’t wait for anything, it all had to be done today or yesterday if possible.

I never understood that needing to be that much in control was a huge sign of a really stressful behaviour. Thankfully, I learned later on during my training that my behaviour had to change, if I were to live a long happy life or even any kind of life for that matter.

When Geoff was born, my youngest son, with down syndrome, I spent a lot of time learning to be patient. Learning that sometimes you can’t have what you want, at that moment in time anyway. I honestly believe that Geoff came to this earth to teach me to be patient and wait, wait for better things to happen.

His young life was spent, with me, waiting in hospital queues for consultants, speech and language therapists, developmental physio, ENT specialists, and everything else in between. The waiting game began thirty-five years ago, and it still goes on today. Only another parent with a person with a learning difference understands the difficulty our young people experience, who find waiting really tough. The anxiety starts to build and between squirts of rescue remedy and breathing techniques, my work has certainly been interesting!


Now I notice there is a new waiting game, the one where parents know that there is something not quite right with their child, have attention drawn to it, then have to wait for a final diagnosis. Waiting, waiting, and more waiting. The waste of time is shocking when intervention would be so helpful, for both child and family.


One of my passions is swimming, teaching it, to those who are really afraid. But more importantly to those who learn differently. Probably because I was so afraid myself, I was thrown into the deep end at the age of ten and was terrified of under the water for the next thirty years.

Last summer I started to teach a little boy to swim, he has a learning difference, and the waiting game began again. Waiting for him to be happy to enter the pool.


Waiting for him to realise the water was his friend. Waiting for him to be comfortable with the touch of the water on his face. Waiting for him to allow the water that just went up his nose, to come down all by itself. Waiting for him to trust me, waiting for him to use the water for relaxation, then trusting the water to provide him with the support and buoyancy that it does.

I introduced the idea of putting his face in the water and again I waited. Waited for him to try it and realise the wonder of what goes on beneath the surface! Waiting to see the look on his face when he realises, he is capable of so much more than he thought he was.

Then before I had a chance to set the lesson, the waiting ceased. He took off like a light, got into the deep end, then swam off with his face in the water. Ha… ha… that chucked me! The waiting has now become the reward, for him and me.

I have always been a great believer in the sky is the limit and that the learner should tell the teacher where the sky is! Many times, while I ran my beloved swim club, assistants would suggest that a swimmer could not do one of the activities. I never entertained it, never. Wait and you will see what they are able to do. That was always my response.

All our club members were taught how to dive, regardless of the result they were all taught. They were all taught the four strokes. Maybe some could not be credibly entered in a specific event in the gala, without risk of disqualification, but they were taught. Whatever they wished to do with the lesson, was always up to them. When we went along to the competition, they excelled in everything they entered. Because we waited, gave them space to process, and then waited for them to succeed.

The waiting is just the in-between, the space where all the changes happen. If we allow ourselves to wait, sometimes, it can be very productive.

So, if you are tired of waiting, thinking things will never change, and thinking of giving up, I can assure you that it is well worth the wait.

Trust me, I’m a waiter!


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