On the way home from work I called my mother. "Just a head's up," she said, "you know how we switched Declan from the swim clinic with the younger kids on Tuesdays to one with the older kids on Mondays? Well, when Declan started to get dressed after his lesson, Lyes called over to me."
Lyes became Declan's swim teacher when Declan was nine. I remember the day I called Children of the Sound, a local swim school, to find someone who might be able to work with Declan. "It needs to be with someone who gets it," I explained, "someone who can understand how Declan learns, and understand what is hard for him." "We'll have him swim with Lyes," the voice on the phone determined. "He owns the company and is very good at working with all kinds of kids." When Lyes called me to talk about Declan, I remember going into a long explanation. "He can swim but he doesn't know the strokes. He has poor working memory, has difficulty holding understanding verbal direction, tends to not read social cues well, and often swims with just one side of his body as a result of the neurosurgeries that he had on the left side of his brain (literally, Declan would go across the pool with just his right arm swinging out of the water)...." After my lengthy diatribe, I remember the pause on the other end of the phone, then Lyes' response. "So he's a boy," he said. Somehow I knew that this match just might be a good one.
"He asked me where Declan was going, why he wasn't staying for clinic," my mom relayed. "When I reminded him about switching to the older clinic, he said, 'No. I want this kid swimming. I want him to swim both clinics. I want him swimming every day. I want his parents to move to another house with a pool and I want him to swim even more.'" Before my mother could respond, she heard Lyes call Declan over. "Dec," he demanded, "come over here. What do they call you, Dec?" Yes, Declan replied, puzzled by the question. "Well now you're DAC. You see, DAC stands for Declan Assistant Coach. From now on, you are my assistant coach for the younger clinic." Lyes has fallen for Declan, and we him. He will do anything, it seems, for our son. This year, he even came to see Declan recite his one and only line in the school play.
When I got home that evening, I asked Declan about it. "Dec!" I exclaimed, "I hear that you are going to be an assistant coach!" "Yeah," he responded with the kind of hubris that made me think he might just blow on his knuckles and rub them against his chest, "it's true." I stayed quiet and just watched his reaction to this latest, exciting development. "I think," he continued, walking across the room to look out the window, "this might actually help me become a doctor one day."