Sunday, 22 May 2011

Not Waving but Drowning

It's a highly competitive world on a Wednesday afternoon at our local swimming pool. There are a series of lessons back-to-back for tots to teens, which means that virtually every parent in the village is there at some point.

Now that Gertie has reached the grand old age of four, she has just landed herself in the Level 1 class. This is an exciting new development because it means that we no longer have to get into the pool with her. I collect her early from nursery, where she takes great delight in telling everyone that she is going swimming, 'All by myself!" The nursery workers give me funny looks as she swaggers out of the building with all of her 'I've Just Had My Birthday and am Really Grown-Up' confidence.

But at the swelteringly hot poolside (I haven't quite organised an appropriate wardrobe for swimming supervision and usually end up looking red in the face and uncomfortably hot and sticky at the end of the half an hour) I can't quite believe the level of 'parental support' in evidence.

One Mum, dressed in baseball cap and and sports t-shirt, and looking more like an instructor than the actual swimming teacher, struts around the water's edge literally screaming at her son to correct his stroke/speed up/slow down/breathe differently. Whilst her garb marks her out as taking the whole thing just a wee bit too seriously, she is not alone in her vocalisation. In fact, at times I can barely see what is going on in the lesson for the number of grown-ups anxiously prowling the tiles and barking orders at their offspring.

Another mum, whose son clearly has an aversion to water and has sat on the side refusing entry for the last fortnight, now leaves him to endure this torture on his own, disappearing at the start of the lesson (presumably as she can't deal with the waterside tantrum which is now inflicted upon the rest of us.)

I confess that I want Gertie to do well in there, but mostly just feel relieved that I don't have to go through the rigmarole of getting ready for swimming without having the opportunity to actually 'swim' myself anymore. And any thoughts I might have harboured about wanting to encourage her swimming development are put on hold by the spectre of the super-coaches that surround the pool. I don't want to be one!

Gilby is obviously a long way from this point, and he goes swimming with his daddy on a Thursday morning. Happily, the swimming pool is right next door to where I work, so I try to organise a 'break' for some point during his lesson so that I can pop in and see how he is getting on. I managed to time it to coincide with the end of the lesson this week, so that I could give him big cuddles as he came out. I made the mistake of stripping him down before wrapping him in his towel so that my work clothes didn't get too wet. He rewarded me by weeing down said work clothes.

I handed him back to Daddy through gritted teeth, waving and smiling and wondering at the wisdom of my decision to try and juggle work and motherhood more successfully whilst simultaneously attempting to disguise the piss-stain on my dress.


  1. Competitive parents is a topic I have brought up in earlier posts too - they are such a pain but, second time around, I don't let them 'get to me' (very often!). As another blogger has said (sorry just can't remember who or would have given a link) there are times when competitive parents maybe have some personal baggage and this is their reason for pushing their own kids, so perhaps we should try and be benevolent before dismissing them as pains in the arse.

    Sounds like the perfect arrangement to have swimming pool next door to work! Avoid the piss next time though!

  2. @ diney: Hmm. Benevolence. Going to try it...!