Pain and Passion

I feel electrified. Everything inside of me is buzzing. I am having SO much fun out on the water with these kids.

I still have no idea whether or not I have a job. And I’m still having major issues with food.

But I’m insanely happy, and feel like I’m where I am supposed to be right now. So I’m trying not to panic.

We have 7 kids in our group. One is extremely difficult. And another one, let’s call him Joel, all of the staff told me when I got there on Tuesday Joel is a slug, done expect much out of him. Joel never stays with the group, he’s always off on his own, doesn’t make eye contact, never answers any questions, and avoids any extra work.

Yesterday, I put him in the coach boat to yell at him. I really ripped into this kid. He’s also a big kid and not super strong, I had to pull him into the boat and he didn’t have to upper body strength to help, which at the time made me even more angry. But eventually I got a grip and went back to watching the boats on the water. I was talking with the other instructor and more or less ignoring squishy ole Joel. Then, out of no where, Mr. Slug casually inserts himself in our discussion about the boats we were watching. He knew SO much stuff! He had been paying attention to EVERYTHING.

It turns out the kid is like BRILLIANT, and even goes to a special gifted school.

The other instructor and I nearly fell out if the boat when we realized. We went back and told the rest of the staff about our conversation. So today, when Joel showed up, he had a small fan club and ALL of the adults were looking out for him.

He ended up on a boat with our very difficult child and I was screaming at their boat– again. (Really, these kids deserved it, I’m not that mean). Joel was following directions while the other two were busy making very dangerous choices and refusing to listen. The difficult kid also flipped us off and yelled “Fuck you!”

When we got to the dock, I was PISSED, and almost left. I’m a VOLUNTEER, with a ton to offer these kids. But I’m not going to stick around and put up with that kind of crap from a 12 year old. We wanted our kids to sail Optis but they wanted to swim…

So I grabbed my life jacket and jumped in an Opti. These are boats that aren’t really made for anyone over the age of about 13. Now, I’m not huge, but I’m plenty big enough to be comical in an Opti. I had a great time sailing and calmed down enough to at least finish the day.

As we started cleaning up, Joel pulled me aside and asked if I was mad at him. Hmmmm I just got out if an Opti why was I mad again? He reminded me I’d been yelling at his boat. I told him I wasn’t mad at him and that I was really enjoying working with him this week. Then I showed him the YOUTH WORLD TEAM logo on my life jacket and told him what it meant. He was so cute and asked if he could go back to school and tell his friends that he hugged an Olympian. I said sure and stared to get up but he pulled me back and said “I just want you to know, I’m having a really great time here, but I try not to smile too much so the other boys won’t make fun of me.”

When Joel’s grandma picked him up I went over and gave him a hug and told her that we all just adore him, and he asked her if he could sign up for a second week. She seemed surprised and thrilled.

Before he left, Joel asked why I was bleeding. Huh. I hadn’t noticed. But I looked down and sure enough, I’ve got 4 or 5 big cuts on my legs and bruises pretty much everywhere.

I read an article a while back about a study that showed that people with anorexia have less brain wiring to register pain. Every one else out there has complained about small scrapes and we have gone through tons of peroxide. I have no idea when I got so cut up. But my knees are sunburnt, and those hurt.


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