Friday, 3 June 2011

It's my day off matey

The instructor giggles nervously.

I say, in a slightly strained voice, It is all perfectly normal! My children often growl at each other like that!

Think yourself lucky. You've only got two-parts of a three-part set. The missing third is passed out on the sofa, lumps all over her throat, smashed on Tixylix.

The remaining twins I simply hand over, quickly sign the disclaimer, scribble my telephone number, tell him that everything will be fine, and leg it. If I can cope with competitive triplets, so can anyone!

I do not say, what we are about to do is engage in reckless and foolish behaviour, putting the arch-rivals, sisters in combat, Shark and Tiger, together on the same cold lake, at the same early start time, for the same fun activity, to be taught by the same lamb-to-the-slaughter instructor.

Thrusting together children who are currently head-to-head in opposition and telling them to play together nicely is madness. It may be potentially life-threatening, as any parent of fiercely competitive children will know.

Yet I am the eternally optimistic Grit!

I have already inhaled my lavender water, and chanted calmly that a half-mile of lake water is indeed big enough for both of them, and what damage can anyone seriously do with today's weapon of choice, aka a windsurfing board?

I reassure myself, too. Tiger will not crumble under a crisis of self-hatred when she observes how Shark springs on her board and sails effortlessly to the other side. Tiger will not aim her windsurfing board at Shark's head in a fury of revenge because Shark is ten seconds quicker to arrive at the pontoon thanks to the foolish competition set up by the naive paddlesports teacher. Tiger will simply not come home in a pot-boiling rage to kick the crap out of everyone because 'Shark is better at everything'. No. Tiger will only discover her own unique non-triplety talents with a flattened bit of plastic and a sail.

Shark, meanwhile, be will be the ideal non-competitive sibling. She will be sensitive, understanding, compassionate. She will not bring on watery apocalypse by means of smart-arsed comments, nor glide smirking by a sinking Tiger while showing off a range of acrobatic twirls on a perfectly balanced windsurfing platform. Perhaps Shark will also aim to diffuse awkward moments by modest, self-deprecating humour? Maybe Shark will judge the situation and obligingly pretend to fall in the filthy lake water, bobbing up covered in duck shit, whereupon both my adorable, cooperative children will laugh together, gaily.

It also will not thunderstorm, hail, snow, nor will there be any aggressive child-eating swans. There will be no low-flying airplanes crashing on nearby fields, and no out-of-control pedalo pushers tearing up the lake. No. It will simply be a lovely, fun, educational day out of doors learning new techniques with windsurfs!

How my optimism is well-founded!

When I arrive late afternoon to retrieve my lovely children, after a perfectly relaxing day in the company of one snoring Squirrel, the instructor tells me how the day has gone.

He says the specific instruction I made about never putting Shark and Tiger in fun competitive matches came in very handy. He saw the stare, nipped the duel in the bud, removed the weaponry, and separated the factions. He was also delighted to share with me how he thought up a solution of sending them sailing in opposite directions 'to collect swan feathers. Not from a live swan'. (Probably while he slipped back to the portacabin for a medicinal brandy.)

He adds that he felt the need to telephone only once for emergency back up advice on what to do when he has done the unforgivable, and that is to get confused about who is who, mixed up their names, praised one and not the other, when a scowl could be prelude to watery mayhem, lake flagellation and general duck slaughter. But, he adds, there was no answer on the telephone. Strange.

I say terribly sorry, but for some total oversight, today I simply forgot to switch it on.