Some French tourists buy wetsuits for themselves and their kids, and then just leave the kids for the diving instructor to babysit. The day turns into the worst night mare the instructor ever had.
Every scuba instructor has training horror stories. My story begins on a sunny, calm Caribbean day. The ocean was perfect; there was only a gentle breeze and it was quiet – too quiet, like they say in the old westerns – when a family approached the dive shop. They were French, the parents were chattering agitatedly in their native language in what appeared to be an argument with their 10- and 12-year-old boys. These two would become my mortal “enemies.”
As they arrived at the desk, the two red-headed boys rotated in unison, like something out of the “Exorcist,” focused their beady little eyes on mine and smirked. Their parents had signed them up for a Platinum Scuba Diving course, and wanted to know how long it would take. When I told them several hours, smiles spread across the parents’ faces and they visibly relaxed. I should have known something was up right then and there.
They asked about wetsuits, so I recommended 3/2 Tilos Titanium wetsuits for both the kids, and Body Glove Pro 2/1mm springsuits for the adults. That was pretty much the last thing that went right on this horror story day.
The couple checked their watches and skipped off into the resort, audibly sighing in relief as they abandoned their children to me. This should have also been a warning. Most parents are very happy to leave their kids for supervised instruction, but these two parents were positively giddy with joy.
The pool training went horribly. The boys took over three hours to complete five basic scuba skills not because they were incapable, but because they appeared to have consumed an excess of sugar and caffeine before their 8 am class and were having difficulty comprehending my relatively simple instructions. This was most likely because they were concentrating on what I could only assume was a bouncing contest. I saw them both breach at least three feet above the water despite the fact that they were wearing scuba tanks. Perhaps they had also taken steroids, who knew!
Although they were blue-ish and shivering, they had long-since shed the wetsuits their parents had bought them. I had to march the children from the pool straight to the dive boat in order arrive on time for the afternoon dive. As I hauled the two squirming monsters across the sand, I passed their parents who were grinning from ear to ear and waving at me. How stupid could I have been!
The parents met us on the dock, but when the kids started to complain about having to wear wetsuits again, I turned to find two vapor trails where the parents had been only a moment before. They had escaped! I began to suspect I was the most over-priced babysitter in the Caribbean.
After repeatedly slithering out of their dive gear to dance about the moving boat, the kids calmed down enough for me to get them into the water and down over a shallow reef. I know what you’re thinking – why didn’t I drown these brats right there and then. Since they refused to kick, I pulled them over the reef, swimming with a kid in each hand. Within two seconds, Left-Side-Child miraculously learned how to use his fins and covered a surprising amount of ground. The chase was on!
Dragging Right-Side-Child (who still wouldn’t kick), I pursued Left-Side-Child for a good minute before I was able to grab his hand. He had jetted off over a sandy, upward-sloping area and as a result both children were slowly starting to rise from the increased buoyancy of the expanding air in their BCDs.
Deflating both children’s BCDs, I decided my dive was over and released my surface marker buoy to signal the boat.
Returning to the dock, the children’s parents slowly approached. It might have been my imagination, but they appeared to be dragging their feet and really depressed. “How did it go?” the father asked in a small, timid voice. “We went diving,” I said. “Will you take them again tomorrow?” The mother asked, a glimmer of futile hope in her eyes. “No.” I said.
Strangely, neither parent appeared surprised. The “happy family” trudged away.