Remember swim lessons at the Y? Of course you do. Everyone took swim lessons at the Y. Remember the smell when you walked in, the mix of chlorine and sweaty basketball pinnies? The echoey sound in the indoor pool area? The NO RUNNING and NO DIVING IN SHALLOW END signs everywhere? The kids who seemed like they lived there and were BFFs with all the instructors but you knew it was just because they were there all the time because their parents WORKED (i.e. didn’t love them) so they had to go to after school care or camp? Remember trying to find the newest looking bubble, or when you could finally swim without one? Sometimes if you whined enough your mom let you get something out of the vending machine in the lobby. Remember standing on a bench to dry your hair under the hand dryers?
Since we moved to our new house, our girls have started swim lessons at the same Y where their dad, uncles and grandfather learned to swim, which is kind of cool. This is the first time for Joey, and Klara’s first “big girl” lessons where she goes in the pool WITHOUT MOMMY. Since Daddy wants no part of this (why is it never the dads doing this stuff? OK I know there are more dads doing this now, but it was NEVER the dads growing up, and it’s never OUR husbands doing it. It’s always someone else’s husband) I had to schedule the lessons back to back and pray that Klara could be convinced to sit still long enough for me to take Joey in for her lesson and not get asked to leave for RUNNING or DIVING IN THE SHALLOW END or CRYING EXCESSIVELY.
The first lesson went swimmingly (ha ha). Klara wore her inaugural bubble (a four-sie) and joined the class without looking back. She was so proud of herself. Joey did fine, I guess. Did I mention Mommy and Me class is super boring? It mostly consists of singing nursery rhymes — which is relevant to swimming because…lung capacity? — and trying to make your baby or toddler’s limbs move the way you want them to move, which is always easy and fun. I’d love to have an audio recording of me in the pool with her: “Scoop! Scoop! Scoop! Scoop! Scoop! Ok now kickkickkickkickkickkickkickkickkick!” The best part is when they grab your tankini top while you try to force them to do the Hokey Pokey, which probably explains why the dads keep coming back.
Bringing one baby to the Y for swimming lessons was novel and cute. Bringing a one year old and a three year old is why they make those wine glasses that say “Mommy’s Sippy Cup.” Actually I think I’ll come out with my own brand of wine and just call it “Drink This After Swim Lessons.” Here’s how this week went:
First of all, we had double the fun this week – two nights of lessons because we missed a week and had a make-up lesson. So Tuesday revolved around planning for that evening. I made sure the towels were washed and dry after our trip to the beach Monday. I made sure we all had dry suits to put on, because nothing’s more uncomfortable than having to put on a damp bathing suit. I invited my mom to come watch. I made sure we ran all our errands early enough so that we had time to pack everything up, change and get to lessons on time, a process which involves, among other things:
getting Klara to use the potty, getting Klara to put her bathing suit on, trying and failing to get Klara to put clothes on over her bathing suit, finding my phone, fixing Klara’s hair, getting Klara to put shoes on, putting my bathing suit on, packing Joanna’s bathing suit and swim diaper, finding Joanna a binky, making sure I don’t forget a diaper/my underwear/Klara’s underwear and clothes for after, packing towels, packing water and snacks (WHY are swim lessons always RIGHT AT DINNERTIME?? I mean I know why – it’s those working parents who don’t love their kids enough. They choose swim lessons over sustenance), finding my phone, finding my keys, putting Joanna’s shoes on, getting Klara to put her shoes back on, finding my sunglasses, getting them in the car, waiting for Klara to buckle her herself into her carseat ALL BY HERSELF and then running back inside to find my phone and, while I’m at it, the binky Joanna dropped.
Joey’s lesson was first that day, so I changed her in the locker room, a process similar to stuffing an octopus into a sausage casing. My mom arrived. Joanna and I got in the pool. After five minutes of signing “The Wheels on the Bus” and urging her to “Blow bubbles! Blow bubbles! See! Like Mommy!” they made everyone get out of the pool and cancelled the rest of lessons because someone three towns over thought they might have heard thunder.
Klara took the disappointment in stride. Haha just kidding, she’s 3. Klara cried, carried on, and wouldn’t leave until the 12 year olds who seem to run the pool were literally locking it up. She made us explain to her 17 separate times exactly why everyone had to leave and there were no swim lessons that day, like she really understands or cares how water conducts electricity. Fortunately, I was able to console her by promising that we were coming back the next day for our regularly scheduled lesson.
By the next day, I’d used up all my swim lesson energy. We got home from errands right before we had to leave. The towels were still wet from yesterday’s non-lesson, so I had to grab some of the old ratty (yet clean!) ones I keep around for rags and hope none of the other parents notice I’m wrapping my children in Beige Desperation instead of Tinkerbell and monograms (i.e. I don’t love them). Klara’s unused bathing suit was MIA, so she had to settle for the one she’d worn to the beach Monday, which definitely still had sand in it. All of my bathing suits were damp, which did nothing to improve my mood. I couldn’t find my phone. See above for steps taken to get ready and in the car.
Klara had her lesson first this time; her teacher turned out to be a substitute, one of the 12 year old pool boys. This was totally unacceptable. It was far too much to ask that she get in the pool without Mommy AND with a MAN (seriously, he looked like an extra from a Disney Channel show). Cut to me on the pool deck, toddler in my arms, standing directly behind a row of little girls in bubbles, pleading with Klara to please come and put her feet in the pool with this nice boy named Pat, while Joey blew Cheddar Bunny crumbs at a NO FOOD OR DRINK IN POOL AREA sign. I pulled my Ace and threatened to take away Klara’s Magna Doodle. Crisis averted. Joey and I retreated to the glassed-in observation area for the rest of the lesson, where she immediately insisted I strap a bubble on her and then paraded around in it charming everyone.
Klara’s lesson over, I installed her in a seat with her Magna Doodle and some Pirate’s Booty while Joey and I resumed the all-important work of pushing some colorful balls around the pool. We waved to Klara periodically and she cheerfully waved back. I lost myself in the joy of those darn little monkeys who keep jumping on the bed, concussions be damned, and Joey’s giggles and splashes. With seven minutes left to go, I happen to glance Klara’s way.
You know that scene in Anchorman where Ron Burgundy is in the phone booth?
I hauled Joey out of the pool, mumbling something to the instructor about a crying three-year-old. The reason for Klara’s histrionics? “I just want you.” Translation: I’m bored and tired of waiting.
I may have bribed her with the promise of leftover cake. I definitely bribed her with the promise of leftover cake. It worked like a charm, and I’m not sorry. Joey and I finished the lesson. We headed to the locker room. I reversed the octopus/sausage casing process and grabbed my own clothes. Remember the changing areas? With those sagging plastic curtains that might as well not even be there because you make eye contact with everyone that walks by while wriggling out of your wet bathing suit? As soon as my bathing suit was off, I realized I left my underwear in the bag ten steps away.
“Can you please get Mommy’s undies out of the bag for her? Or maybe bring me a towel?”
“I can’t right now, I’m eating a granola bar.”
“Klara, please just get Mommy a towel.”
“I don’t want to.”
“I WILL TAKE YOUR MAGNA DOODLE AWAY!”
She brought the towel. I retrieved my underwear, swathed in Wet Beige Desperation, thinking about how much I must really love my kids to do this for them. Joey dropped a bunch of raisins on the floor and then ate them. Klara asked if we were coming back again tomorrow, which thankfully we were not or else I’d have to switch to Tequila. Also: I remember my mom used to give all three of us showers with full shampoos after lessons, which only confirms my suspicions that my mom was on meth, because bath time needs it’s own specially branded wine, If You Don’t Stop Getting Water All Over Me I Will Take Your Snow Glow Elsa Away.