Jude has found his passion.
The boy is an official LA County Junior Lifeguard. He's loving it!
And when I say "loving it!" I mean "LOVING IT!"
He is now into his third week, and every single day, when he gets home, he is over-the-moon with joy and excitement. In fact, he pretty much doesn't shut up for about an hour.
The LA Junior Lifeguard program (known in the local vernacular as JGs) is an LA institution that's been around for years - they even had JGs on Baywatch. Many of the parents of Jude's classmates did JGs when they were growing up. It's run by the LA County Fire Department, who employ all of the lifeguards on Southern California beaches, so it's serious stuff, y'all.
According to their website, "the 5 week program provides instruction in water safety, swimming, body surfing, physical conditioning, competition skills, first aid, lifesaving, rescue techniques, CPR and the use of professional lifesaving equipment." Let me remind you that the boy is 10. He now knows more about ocean safety than 95% of the people in the world. That's the JGs figure, not mine. So the boy is pretty pumped.
JGs runs 5 days a week for 5 weeks. At the beach. Which is not in any way close to us. But before you all think that I am the most giving and selfless mother on the planet to put in all that driving for the kid, I must confess that we joined in on an amazing carpool (which was organized by a better mother than me) and I will only have to drive carpool for 5 days. Woohoo!
I might add that Jude loves the carpool too, as he rides in a car with two 13-year old boys who are full of all sorts of what Jude considers "inappropriate stuff". Which he finds terribly intriguing and scandalous. I was concerned about this at first, but realized that the poor kid has no older siblings and no older cousins and is perhaps a little too sheltered, so I thought the slightly scandalous talk might be good for him.
I did drive out to the beach a couple of times, even though it wasn't my carpool day, because I had auditions out that way, and I kinda wanted to find out just what Jude has been going on about (and the kid does go on and on. And on.) and I got to meet his instructors, Lance and Sarah. Lance is just exactly who I would cast if I was casting the role of a 50-something California lifeguard named Lance - short gray hair, muscles, deep tan. Sarah is also kind of a stereotype - fit, young, tomboyish, zinc oxide on her nose. They say that Jude is doing really, really well - he's focused and always does his best and never complains. It's a miracle.
Did I mention that he LOVES it? I honestly don't think he's ever loved any activity this much. It neatly combines all of his favorite things - swimming, running, body surfing - and he loves that he's learning how to actually save a life, so it fulfills his do-gooder tendencies. He's completely empowered and somewhat...full of himself. He has qualified to participate in the Performance Team Trials tomorrow in two events - the Distance Run (running barefoot up and down the beach) and the Run Swim Run (running into the ocean, swimming out to a distant buoy, then running back out of the ocean - think David Hasselhoff). If he does well, he will go on the the California Surf Life Saving Association Regionals - a big deal, y'all. Wish him luck!
I have been forced to realize that despite my being such a Texan, and Jimmy being such a New Yorker, our son is 100% Californian - blond and tan and surf-crazy. He's every bit as much a stereotype as much as Lance and Sarah. Don't know how that happened.
But I'm so happy for him that I can't stand it. And I'm pretty relieved that he's actually learning a marketable skill - he'll always having a summer job when he's a teenager. I can totally see him sitting on the lifeguard stand, blond hair waving in the breeze, zinc oxide on his nose, girls checking out his tan. And hopefully, saving a life or two.
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