Tuesday, February 3, 2015

There's Always One...

There’s always one kid at swimming lessons who spend their time howling, screaming, crying and otherwise being a complete terrorist in swim nappies. There’s always one…

Today was The Terrible Third’s first day of swimming lessons. Not yet three, her confidence around the water is only exceeded by her inability to swim, judge hazards or be remotely trustworthy.

But she was so excited to finally get to do what her big sisters have been doing for years. I left the house early, not quite knowing what was involved or how long it might take to get our access cards sorted.

I hadn’t calculated on her running the entire way from the car to the pool, as such we were slinking into our seats half way through the lesson prior to ours. The two mums turned to me and smiled.

‘You’re here early,’ one said looking at The Third as she hopped from foot to foot pointing at the water.

‘Swimming wessons,’ The Third shrieked throwing her sandals off and heading towards the pool. I grabbed her by the straps of her bathers and pulled her onto my lap. ‘You have to wait,’ I told her.

‘The other kids need to finish their lesson first.’

‘Awwwww,’ she pouted, thrusting her hands onto her hips. ‘I must swim!’ she declared.

The mums sniggered, and I glanced at the clock. Still ten minutes to go.

Ten minutes later, and The Third had somehow managed to stay out of the pool. She had hopped and jigged and sang and pointed and shouted ‘Now?’ hopefully a dozen times, but she had stayed dry.

The mum smiled at her ‘it’s so nice to see so much enthusiasm. You won’t have any trouble with her, she’s raring to go.’

I laughed, and stupidly said ‘My kid will probably be the one that wants to go swimming and the minute they get in the water they scream for the next half hour.’

We both twittered, ha ha ha. Because of the irony, you see.

She left with her small wet child and I took The Third to meet her new teacher. She sat on the edge and began kicking her legs obediently. When asked, she jumped into the pool and put her arms around the teacher’s neck with a huge smile.

Awesome, I thought. This is easy.

Stupid, stupid woman.

It took about two and half minutes for The Third to turn from cute kid in wet pigtails to pint sized terrorist. I still can’t figure out what made her switch.

It wasn’t long before a high pitched wail began ricocheting off the walls. ‘Nooooooooooo,’ the kid howled, followed immediately with a lower pitched profanity from the poor adult whose ear drum had been shattered. I looked up to see The Third trying to climb on the shoulders of her teacher, who was desperately trying not to sink beneath her.

‘I want my Mummmmmmmmmyyyyyyyy,’ the Third howled. The teacher patiently swam her to the edge of the pool, and asked her to sit on the step. She handed the Third a toy duck and turned her attention to the other small child in the class.

A duck sailed over their heads and landed with a plop in the pool. This was soon followed by a kick board and a plastic tea cup. I hissed at her, and she looked up at me as though surprised to see me. ‘Hi Mummy,’ she said. ‘I swimming wessons.’ She filled up a small watering can and tipped it over her head.

Her chin trembled. ‘Wet!’ she said indignantly. I resisted the urge to roll my eyes.

What a lie. I totally rolled my eyes.

The teacher came back to The Third and asked if she wanted to try again.

‘Noooooooooo,’ The Third shrieked, bringing reproachful looks from neighbouring classes. She ditched another kickboard into the pool.

The poor, patient teacher, probably still only a teenager, pushed her shoulders back and faced The Third. I had the utmost respect for this brave brave woman. She looked The Third in the eye.

‘High five?’ she asked hopefully.

The Third slapped a Nemo toy into her outstretched hand with a wet thwack.

‘Fish high five,’ The Third hollered.

At this point the other mum returned, looking for her mobile phone she had left behind. She looked at The Third, sitting on the wall with her arms tightly crossed, glaring at the teacher.

‘How’s it going?’ she asked.

‘I was right,’ I said sadly. ‘There’s always one, and today that one is mine’ as we watched the Third climb out of the pool, screaming, and hiding behind a pole.

‘Swimming wessons?’ she yelled at me expectantly.

‘You’re AT swimming lessons,’ I yelled back.


Let’s see how we go next week… if there IS a next week.


  1. Oh swimming lessons, you nemesis of parental sanity ... after I took both mine to Challenge alone for the first time I just about pulled up shop and moved to Alaska. After that we switched to a Saturday lesson so David could take the big one whilst I stayed home with the baby :)

    1. And to add insult to injury, I had to return in the afternoon to take the other two to their swimming lessons....

    2. Haha your world sounds like mine. The thrill of going back to the swim centre in the arvo after you've spent the morning there with the youngest in a strop is really indecribable. It's such a test of humility and strength, and directly relates to the amount of alcohol consumed that night. I too love that part where the youngest tantrums about not being able to join in with their siblings, after chucking a massive spit in the morning when asked to do exactly that. And you know what? I'd love a lesson. Oh, to be free of little attached limbs in the water...

  2. Oh I feel for you. I had the same issue with my four year old, super keen and then absolute refusal.

  3. And then she had another major tanty when she realised her sisters were going to swimming lessons later that day and she had to stay home... Consistency would be nice...

  4. Oh the joys! Your stories bring back my memories of those horrible scenes. I remember whispering all sorts of bribes into their ears to get them to stay in the water—promises of hot chips and ice-cream was usually enough. Except one time, I remember threatening my eldest with consequences if she wouldn't get in the pool. (I shudder now ...) Strangely enough, she was the only one who kept with it in high school and swam competitively! Good luck negotiating these too-tricky times.

    1. Thanks Louise, high school seems so far in the future... I sometimes struggle getting through the next half hour (of swimming!).

  5. Hahahaha... made me laugh.. And feel strangely reassured.. We had our first lesson on Tuesday (his second birthday).. He cried and clung and cried and clung and climbed up my head for 10 minutes.. Mums sympathised, the teacher asked if he'd been in a pool recently.. The actual problem was that he didn't want to wear bathers.. We have a pool at home.. he has swum nude his entire life.. totally refusing bathers.. Twice I've put them on him.. an aborted trip to the beach.. and Tuesday's swimming lesson.. Suddenly realised the "oh whatever he wants to keep him quiet and deal with the other kids" parenting strategy may have back-fired.. Nine lessons to go :-)

  6. Oh that is brilliant, I wonder what would happen if you asked to let him swim nude. Or maybe he needs to have his bath in his bathers. What a wonderful topsy turvy world.

  7. Oh My Gosh, "fish high five' had me literally laughing out loud!


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