I didn’t originally think of certifying my mother in SCUBA, although I am an instructor and she was always an avid snorkeler who loves the water.
People’s experience with learning to dive are varied. Some people take to it immediately and have no difficulty with mastering the skills. Some people are a bit slower but practice makes perfect and continued practice breeds confidence. Then there are others who find it very traumatic and upsetting and don’t finish the course. Although you can guess which type a person will be, you never know for sure until they are under water, looking at you with wide eyes through their brand new SCUBA mask.
So I didn’t rush into teaching my mother, although she would frequently bring it up and I would entertain the thought to her and in my mind, until finally we reached a point in time when it felt inevitable. I didn’t think she would be the worst type of student, but at the same time, one can never tell.
I love my mom, we hang out a lot. We talk all the time, and do lots of activities together. I didn’t want to ruin that great thing we have going by freaking her out with mask removal skills. But she wanted to see sea turtles and beautiful fish, so I promised her she would get to see fish and sea turtles. We bought tickets to Belize.
The tickets to Belize put a deadline on getting certified so once it was time to get serious, I realized I had to treat my mother like every other student. I had to set aside our relationship and our history and approach her with fresh eyes.
And when it came down to it-she was like every other student. She had the same questions, and the same concerns, and once underwater, she looked the same. She wasn’t the best student I ever had, but she wasn’t the worst, and she didn’t do anything embarassing.
My mom was a good scuba student and is becoming a good scuba diver. We are currently working on her advanced certification. We saw sea turtles and beautiful fish in Belize, and Sea Lions and Giant Sea Bass in California. She still likes it, and I can feel rest assured that I didn’t make my mom cry or try to drown her.
What I learned is that to some degree, you have to treat every student you teach like your mother: treat them kindly and without hurriedness, set realistic goals and expectation and be clear about communication. And don’t take your past relationship into the water with you: safety is your first concern, fun is your second. With that attitude, you can teach anyone to SCUBA dive (if they want it).
keep on diving