I can afford it, but he chooses to do jugaad!


  • Advay wants to learn swimming by using the clubhouse pool, even though we don’t have membership there.
  • He once gets turned away from the clubhouse by the security guard with a warning to not use the pool, because he is not a member.
  • I panic & get into my head about “how can my son do this?”
  • I force him to sign up and pay for a summer training camp there.
  • He doesn’t want to pay for the camp, but insists that he can figure out a way to use the pool for free.
  • I am livid….

… until, I realise that this is not about swimming at all. It’s about leadership and boy am I impressed!

Full Story:

In 2019, we buy a year long membership at a newly opened clubhouse near our gated community, primarily to use the swimming pool in it. During the time we had the membership, Advay and I would use the pool very regularly. He picked up basics of swimming at that point. After our membership expired, I decided to not renew because I was not happy with the clubhouse policies primarily around pool timings.

Fast forward to summer of 2023, almost all of Advay’s friends seem to have active memberships and some are even part of the coaching camp that’s going on. Advay doesn’t like most organised sports that his friends play (like football, cricket etc) — but he loves swimming. He starts going to the pool with them. Initially the security would let him in, because he would show up with other kids. The clubhouse folks assumed that he had a membership too so they wouldn’t check. But when Advay went to the pool alone a couple of times, they figured that he was not a member. They sent him back saying that he can only use the pool if he was a member or if he was attending coaching classes.

He comes home dejected at the prospect of not being able to use the pool again. I suggest to him to sign up for coaching classes. Advay goes to the clubhouse, finds out the price and comes back to tell me that he is not interested to pay “so many thousands” for a coaching class that will last just a few weeks, especially when they will be spending much of the time teaching him what he already knows. He insists that he is ‘this-close‘ to learning swimming by himself and that he doesn’t want to ‘be taught‘ at this point.

He tells me that he will continue to sneak in with his friends without getting caught and continue to self-learn swimming. I told him that self-learning is fine, but sneaking in is NOT. I was forceful while driving home this point! I pressure him to sign up for coaching classes once again, but he declines. I am panicking that my son is hatching plans to ‘sneak in‘ rather than ‘checking in the right way‘. I question myself the kind of morals I have taught him. I totally get into my head about it.

Next day, Advay goes back to the clubhouse to figure out if there is any way he could use the pool for free. The guy at the reception tells him that if he can fetch guest passes from people who are members and use them. Upon further probing, he figures that each member family will have 24 guest passes that they could use across the whole year.

Advay then speaks to his friends and tries to negotiate passes he could request from them. Some agreed, some did not know the existence of these passes, and I guess some of them declined parting their passes. He finally gets hold of 4 passes (I think). Which meant that he could legit use the pool for 4 more days. Feeling happy, he uses it for 4 days to the fullest. Yet, he fails to complete self-learning swimming. He is back at home, dejected that he cannot use the pool anymore. Even now he outright rejects the idea of joining coaching classes.

I kept wondering why he prefers to deal with the dejection and disappointment of not being able to use the pool, when I could easily afford the god damn coaching classes. I just couldn’t understand why he is adament about sneaking in and using the pool for free. Hello, I can afford it! Who does he think I am!!!!!

Upon speaking to him and upon further reflection, I realize that this whole episode is really not about ‘sneaking into the pool for free’. It was about

  • him ‘knowing‘ in his bones that he can self-learn (and in his defense, he has learned quite a bit of swimming by himself)
  • him ‘negotiating deals‘ with his friends for guest passes, while being fully okay at being rejected (I still can’t make a pitch to a VC)
  • him knowing that he can ‘accomplish something all by himself‘, without his ‘big father‘ stepping in to “help” him
  • me understanding that him ‘sharing about stuff‘ is not always a ‘call for help

Once I understood this, I have chosen to step aside and let him deal with the ups and downs of this process. My role is to simply listen and be around — AND learn by watching him.