There is a little girl on the swim team I coach named Ashley (note: not actually named Ashley). Ashley is only five years old, but it is her second year in the 6 & Under age group. She is chubby, energetic, personable, and smart, and has a mop of curls that frequently cover her face while she swims. As such, she is one of the most darling children on the swim team.
I have a difficult time being tough with little children that crack me up. Young Dimitri escaped disciplinary action many a time by making me laugh, which was often achieved through pecking or punching me. Similarly, Ashley goes underwater while the coaches are talking, walks on the diving board during times it is clearly marked "CLOSED," and occasionally spends more time adjusting her goggles than she does in the water. Yet when I attempt to reprimand her, I often end up laughing too hard to chase her.
At our recent Time Trials meet, Ashley was playing on the steps in the shallow end, a forbidden area. I told her to leave, and Ashley's mom observed her daughter's cheerful defiance of my coachly authority.
"What you've got to do," she told me, leaning over to where Ashley swum next to the wall, "is say something like (lowered voice) 'Ashley get the fuck out of the pool.'" Ashley scampered up the steps immediately. Ashley's mom grinned at me. "Ashley really responds to that combination of stern male voice and profanity." She paused. "Actually, the profanity's the important part."
One day, Ashley's sister got a foot cramp while swimming. She left practice, and sat in a chair with her mom rubbing her foot. Ashley looked on with worry. I asked how she was, and Ashley's mom jokingly suggested cutting the foot off to relieve the pain. Ashley stood up, placed her hands on her hips and said, "Mom! No." Ashley's jaw was set, Ashley's foot was stomping the ground. Her mom said she was kidding, but Ashley still sat back down shaking her head indignantly. What the fuck is my mom advocating? is what I'm sure little Ashley was thinking.
Today, there was even more severe cuteness at 6 & Under practice. The caterpillars of two weeks previous have metamorphosed into butterflies, which three of the 6 & Under set had balanced on their fingers when they arrived at practice today. If there's a cuter sight than six year-olds with shark goggles over their eyes and newly-hatched butterflies fluttering perched on their fingers, it would have to involve, like, kittens and puppies and four year-olds living in harmony but also like on the moon or at least in a carnival-style Bounce House. Cute as fuck, I would say, if Ashley wasn't listening.