Thursday, 11 January 2007

Organised misery

I've organised swimming lessons. I must be mad. I hate swimming lessons. The children love them. They were very sad when we suspended them to go to Aus. I opened a bottle of champagne.

First it will be that I can't find the swimming costumes. When I find them, I'll remember that Shark needs a new one because hers is too small, or Squirrel's seam has come apart, or Tiger's managed to get some horrible-looking stain on hers so she looks like a chemical hazard in need of bleach.

When we leave, everyone will be arguing because I haven't got the goggles. I say goggles are their responsibility. They say I always have them. I say I only always have them because children are always losing them. Of course I have to take the goggles away. Anyway, it's guaranteed I haven't got the goggles, and neither have the children.

Then it's the towels. The only one I can find will be frayed at the edge, or have a strange scissor-made hole somewhere that I bet fits a unicorn's head, or it'll be an over-washed grey towel with paint on that I promised myself I would cut up as cleaning cloths, and then immediately put back on the towel shelf.

When we get to the baths it's the hair. All the children have very long hair because they claim it hurts when it's cut. This is impossible and I tell them so. Of course I won't sound convincing because I never go to the hairdressers either. Not again. Not after the fire incident. So I have to threaten swimming caps, which is even worse than having hair put up in a ponytail. Then they'll let me wrap up hair in ponytails, grumbling. By this time we will be a guaranteed ten minutes late because I won't have found a car parking space and we'll have parked miles away. We of course won't be able to leave the house ten minutes earlier because I'll be looking for the swimming costumes.

Then it will be the 20 pence coin I need for the locker where we store all our clothes. I won't have a 20 pence coin, so I'll have to carry all our belongings to the poolside and desposit them under the sign that reads 'Please do not deposit your belongings at the poolside. Please use the lockers provided.' I would use the lockers provided if I had a 20 pence coin. If I use the lockers without a 20 pence coin, someone will steal my shoes.

By then the children are in the pool and Shark will have an argument with Fish, our swimming teacher. Fish knows the warning signs now, and she'll back off. She had to close the pool the time the argument went too far. Shark had already been carried out, as stiff as an ironing board; she'd then locked herself in a cubicle and taken to smashing it up. It took 30 minutes to get her out. We had to send a letter of apology.

If we manage the last fifteen minutes of the lesson without being sent out or carried out we have time for a leisure swim. I hate leisure swim. The children jump on me and force me to twirl them by holding them out and spinning them round. I don't mind one twirl each but ten twirls each makes me feel sick. Then I'll want to go home. I'll have to bribe them to get out. And we have to do the shower. I hate the shower. Everytime I'm in it I shudder at the memory of the time I had to clean up the poo. It was everywhere, and it wasn't even my baby. The mother had legged it. That's the sort of place we go swimming in.

Then it's back home, where Dig has been in charge of preparing lunch. By then the children will be famished. If we're lucky, Dig will have made us baked potatoes. If we're unlucky, he'll have forgotten to turn the oven on. Last time we discovered those delicious raw feasts it was 2.04. The chippy closes at 2.00.

And so it goes on. The lingering smell of chlorine and the horrible itchiness of it. The horrible slimy tiles in the toilets and the cramped changing room where I can barely turn round to stare at someone's chewing gum on the back of the door. And then most of all I hate the sight of me in a swimming costume. I try not to look. I've organised our first swimming lesson of the term for next Wednesday. Perhaps I can be ill.

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