5 minutes to read

One Thursday in 2013, at 3pm, I took my eldest daughter to her first swimming lesson. Three years later, every Thursday at 3pm, I still take my eldest daughter to her swimming lesson. Dear reader, over this lengthy period, I have come to detest and resent this weekly submersion into the depths of joyless hell. 

Granted, I no longer have to bounce around in the two feet of urine-warm water holding her in outstretched arms, because she’s tall enough and brave enough to take one for the team and go it alone. However, I’ve done my time in the parental supervision gauntlet. I have:

–      Leveraged a small degree of mummy-force to get her underwater for those illusive novelty (read: expensive) photo shoots. The ONE photo I ever deemed worthy of purchase shows her looking upwards in what a stranger may assume is a jovial fashion, but I know she’s on the cusp of a grade 1 meltdown.

–      Discovered that swim nappies do not always sit flush to the skin, allowing a rogue turd bandit to escape and flit around the pool, as I tried to simultaneously hold a slippery baby and catch the offending article.

–      Almost concussed her, by rolling out the mummy-force yet again to achieve compliance with the Superfun Let’s Jump In activity. I may have been standing a little too close to the side, giving minimal room for her to execute the rigid pencil half jump / half pull manoeuvre. The concrete edge only flirted with her ponytail, honest.

–      Spent five minutes or so wondering if anyone has ever orgasmed while straddling the giant foam noodle, pretending that it’s a seahorse and you are a cowgirl. I did not orgasm, but I can see how in the right context, someone MIGHT orgasm. A pool party at the Playboy house, for example.

–      Worn excessive make-up in a freak “mummy wants to look pretty today” moodswing. Of course, this streaked all over my face the second my big toe dipped into the pool, but no bugger told me. It wasn’t until my husband arrived home from work THREE HOURS LATER that I realised I was doing a mean Rocky Horror impression.

Now she’s a solo mermaid, it should be easy. All I have to do is pitch up, get her into her costume, fling her poolside, and recline in a comfy leather sofa for half an hour. Right? Wrong. So wrong. For starters, we have another baby now, a poor neglected second child who has never had a whiff of chlorinated water because I can’t afford to send her swimming as well. Coupled with this, we have a child who pretends to have the bladder of a gnat.

She will do a big old wee before we leave the house. She will do another big wee before her lesson starts. She’ll do a big wee before we set off for home. She does NOT need to do a big wee 15 minutes into a 30 minute class. She is attention seeking, she is bored.

The children have been taught that if they need to wee, poo or vomit during the course of the lesson, they are to calmly make their way to the steps, and wave at the bug-eyed CCTV camera. The mums are stationed in the waiting area, supposedly watching the display screen like mama hawks, but actually using the opportunity to have a nice chat. Several children will wave at the camera at various stages, causing us to sigh, trudge through the busy changing room, tiptoe through the barbicide foot bath, and retrieve a dripping wet child. Costumes are yanked down, little bottoms are placed on the little toilet, and said child is marched back to the pool to complete the session.

Every week, and I mean every week, I will breastfeed the baby and the child will execute the dreaded wee wave. I either have to unlatch the baby and foist her onto another unsuspecting mum, or ask someone to do wee duty for me. Both of these stand-in roles are undesirable, as my children are dreadful.

One week, enough was enough. “Look.” I levelled with the child. “Seriously, if you do need a wee, just go in the pool. It’s ok, everyone else does it, just don’t tell anyone. Please?”

I should have known this was erroneous. Not for hygiene, you understand, EVERYONE wees in the pool. Hell, I used to when I took her swimming. No, my child is a snitch. At 3.15pm, right on cue, the familiar outline of my child slithered up the steps and waved, with two hands for good measure. For the love of Jesus. I handed the baby, startled from her milk slumber, to the poor mum who happened to make eye contact with me. I stomped to the edge of the pool, only to find the instructor waiting for me like a praying mantis.

“I’ve just had to tell her that it’s not ok to wee in the pool, and that she probably misunderstood mummy, because mummy wouldn’t tell her it’s ok to wee in the pool. Would mummy?”

The child looks at me doe-eyed. The manipulative heathen.

“Er, no, toilets are for wees! Come on then, let’s get you sorted ship-shape so you can be back for toy time.” I take her hand in mine and tug her into the changing room.

“But mummy, you said….”

“Yes, well I think mummy was a bit silly. I’m sorry.”

“That’s ok. Mummy, I think a poo is coming out.”

One Thursday, at 3pm, in 2017, I will not have to take her swimming, because she’ll be at school. Delicious, heavenly education, ridding me of the aquatic burden. Except mummy-guilt will no doubt see me sloshing around the pool with the baby, who won’t be a baby anymore, and I’ll be trying very hard not to wee.

-SJW October 2016


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