Thursday, November 10, 2005

In my day.....

Can you believe it? I've haven't been in blog or cyber land for a few days because it's been my birthday; we had a weekend at my folks; various play dates and sporting events for Sapphire and then I caught some sort of vicious version of the flu.

And I put the flu bit down to being smug enough (and, now at 37, old enough) to have started a sentence off with, "Well, in my day....."

Picture the scene: it was 11am on Tuesday, and Sapphire's reception/year one class was at the local outdoor pool on their second day of swimming lessons. On the Monday it drizzled and we were informed that swimming lessons would always continue regardless of the weather because a) the pool is heated; b) there are lots of parents helping who will throw towels around the kids as soon as they get out of the pool; and, perhaps most importantly, c) the pool and teachers had already been booked and paid for.

One helper Mum hadn't heard the above explanations, and wondered out loud if her son, Alex (I'll safely call him that without fear of identification because there are no less than five in Sapphire's class) was going to survive the lesson in what was, on the Tuesday, driving rain. “Oh, I hope he doesn’t get a cold in this awful weather,” she fretted. It was then I should have rammed a towel down my throat and nodded silently in sympathy and implied concern. But I didn't, did I?

Instead, dressed warmly for the weather in trakkie daks, sneakers, long-sleeved t-shirt and tracksuit top and the added heat of having five each of the kids’ towels on each arm, my big mouth opened and dredged up: “Well in my day – (yes, I’m sorry, I actually did say that) – Well, in my day we went swimming in the first week of November at the Murray Bridge pool and it wasn’t heated.”

That blob of excrement excuse-for-a-remark went down as well as an anchovy in a cheesecake. Perhaps another angle would make her realise that our kids weren't going to die of cold, or bird flu or anything else whilst they were in the pool for that matter. I gestured towards the friendly teachers who were also in the water, guiding the children through their lessons. "We had some terrible teachers in my day. Really impatient, crabby ones who'd be all warmly dressed and dry on the edge of the pool, yelling at us to get on with it."

A huge gust of wind blew and I hoped that I didn't hear Maria mutter "I wish you would end up in the water you old......" I tried again: “Well, look at them. I was like that; I loved swimming so much that something like rain wasn’t going to put me off.” This may have gone down slightly better than a bowling ball in a toilet bowl if our attention wasn’t right then diverted by little Max’s determined screams. “No, I don’ wanna go in, I don’ wanna go in, no no NO!” The teacher, who had been determinedly trying to drag him towards the edge of the pool, gestured with her head for me to come over and get him off her hands. As I took him back to the boys’ change room, his sobs subsided and there was a spring of relief in his step.

Maria – the other helper mother’s – face visibly dropped when she saw me arrive back with a dry and dressed Max, wrapped up in his towel for extra warmth. Nothing was going to stop my mouth from trying to make amends. “Ah well, look at them all having such fun. They were so excited this morning when they got off the bus, and now look at them!” It was as though my verbiage was truly cursed. At that moment my lovely Sapphire got deliberately donged on the head by Jamie’s kickboard; Danni’s lips turned eerily blue and she started shaking violently enough for a small head of foam to form near the steps, Josh’s ears were bent in half by his goggles and he threw them out of the pool in frustration, hitting Max in the face; and four others started crying for no discernable reason. By this stage the helper mothers had formed a protective ring of bodies and umbrellas around Max and I was excluded, the annoying “Oh in my day I used to catch a rabbit for me breakfast, then walk ten miles to school in me bare feet….up hill, in the snow – both ways mind you - and I were grateful” parental pest.

It was a relief therefore, when the lesson ended and we were all busy wrapping up the kids in towels and hustling them back to the change rooms. When there, all was chaos – the other mothers seemed to have chosen that particular time to get themselves a latte from the canteen. “Louise, where are your shoes? Jen, go to the toilet now and take your bathers off at the same time, there’s a good girl…. Sapphire please put on your jumper….. Anika you must take off your wet bathers before putting on your school dress, here, let me help you start again…. Isobel sweetie what have you been doing all this time?.....Whose knickers are these?”

Somehow they all ended up looking relatively dry and warmly dressed and, as far as I could see, there were no socks, undies, plastic bags or hairbrushes lurking in the room. “The bus is here – your teacher is waiting for you!” I waved goodbye to them as they skipped onto the bus: tears and cold forgotten and instead all full of chatter about the fun they’d had, and what they hoped to do there tomorrow.

I walked back to the car park, noticing that my throat felt sore and I had the beginnings of a pounding headache……

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