We arrive at our local aquatic leisure centre, formerly known as a pool, about five minutes early. Quite an achievement for a 9am lesson, as it involves leaving home at the tail end of peak hour traffic, and timing our run to arrive neither late nor too early.
The Complicated One can’t wait and wants to jump in the water. I remember the warning that came with our lessons: do not let your child swim before his or her class, as they will be too tired.
I figure a five minute dip in the same pool as the lessons is not going to overly tire him out, and will lead to a quicker start to the lesson as the boys will already be in the water. How wrong can you be?
The Complicated One is fine, of course, as per our new form guide where black is white.
The Big Fella is a different matter. He's in the water, but do you think that’s going to make him any more inclined to take part in a swimming lesson?
I strip off and wade in after him. Employing all my best positive parenting and distraction techniques, I’m still left with a crying not-quite-three-year-old.
As we glide in beside the instructor, I ask “Any ideas?” “Well you could start by not letting him swim before the lesson” is the tart response.
I bite my tongue and mutter “We’ve only been in the water for less than five minutes”. Then I fire up a bit, adding “We don’t normally do it anyway, so let’s not think for a minute that not swimming before the lesson is the solution to the problem we’ve been having for the past few weeks”.
An experienced instructor knows an agitated parent when she sees one, so she smiles and moves on. I sit down, dripping, to watch. Remarkably, The Big Fella comes good and pretty much does the whole lesson with no tears.
Much relieved after swimming, I make a semi-impromptu decision to visit a new indoor play centre. The Big Fella will hopefully sleep in the car on the way, so we’ll both get a much-needed rest. Shame I have to keep my eyes open while driving.
When we arrive it’s a great relief to discover that this new play centre is perfect. Good coffee. Good music. Great variety of climbing frames and slippery dips. A jumping castle and ball pit (with a sign boasting about how clean their balls are).
There’s a separate area for trikes and cars, two little cubbyhouses and couches and magazines for parents. There’s even a free carousel teapot ride.
My only mistake is forgetting my book. But we’re outside our residential area, so the free weekly newspapers have not one but two homebuyer guides full of houses I can fantasise over.
I sip a soy mocha, admire the new homes and dream of a perfect life with a lap pool, media room with projector TV, snooker table and table tennis table.
And clean balls.