Every Wednesday at 11:00 a.m., for this entire summer, Calvin has come to give the boys swimming lessons. I first met Calvin in my Intro to Sociology class a couple of years ago. He was a sophomore and in a big lecture class of 250 he stood out. He's smart. Turns out he's a fine swimmer too. Big time. I had Calvin in another class this past spring-- the spring of his senior year. Captain of the Lehigh Swim Team. President of the Black Student Union. Star Student. Late spring, as graduation was approaching, Calvin was winning every student leadership award that's given out. He's staying at Lehigh for the next year, getting his MA in Political Science, and applying to PhD programs. This is the kind of student you love to love. There aren't many like him, but when they come along... well... it sounds cliche but it is true: they are the ones that make the whole thing worthwhile. And now that I have kids of my own --- now that I have black boys of my own --- when a black male student like Calvin comes along I can't help but think of him as more than simply an exceptional student-- Calvin is the kind of role model I want in the lives of my sons. He's that good. So we got to talking. And in addition to having a genuine academic/intellectual/sociological interest in the development of young black boys, Calvin also has some experience teaching swimming. I had been looking for some sort of way to get K & O into swim lessons of some sort. But I had been having no luck because of the weird situation we had on our hands--- at age just barely 4, K & O had never had a swim lesson in their lives but were unusually good strong confident swimmers. Swim centers I'd looked into wouldn't take them into group lessons because their swim skills were way too advanced for their appropriate age groups, but their social skills were way too --how shall we say it... um, unadvanced...-- for their appropriate swim skill groups. Calvin agreed to come to the house once a week this summer to do private lessons at our pool. And more importantly (from my perspective at least), he agreed to build a relationship with my boys. I was pretty up front with Calvin about it-- yes, I wanted them to learn something about swimming, but my not-so-hidden agenda was just to get them around Calvin on a regular basis. By the third week Calvin was their hero. And they were doing the freestyle. And now, as the summer is ending, they consider Calvin their "Swim Teacher" as well as their great friend. Kyle has already announced that Calvin will be getting an invitation to his 5th birthday party (that kind of says it all). Oh, and in addition to the freestyle they're also doing the back stroke, and treading water, and flip turns underwater off the pool wall, and they are both diving beautiful perfect 10 dives into the deep end. Calvin has suggested we continue the swim lessons through the school year. He's looking into using the Lehigh pool once it gets too cold to swim in ours. It will be nice for the boys to keep swimming through the winter this year. It will be even nicer to watch them continue to build their relationship with Calvin. Anyone who knows anything about the studies that have been done on black boys knows that all the research evidence points to the same thing: the importance of the relationships between black boys and older black male role models in their lives. Finding those role models, however, is sometimes the tricky party-- especially in situations like ours; we want there to be an organic glue holding the relationship together... not some kind of fabricated pseudo-relationship based on emphasizing black role modeling. So, right now, for us, the best part about the boys' relationships with Calvin is that it is organically bound together by a shared genuine interest: swimming. And just for the record... just in case one (or both) of them ever are superstar swimmers... Calvin was K & O's first Swim Teacher. You read it here first. Summer 2008.