Swimming....so relaxing, peaceful, almost therapeutic. That is, unless the person swimming is your child and you are there as loyal spectator. I am very proud that my son has reached level 9 of his swimming lessons, enjoy watching him become stronger and more confident in the water. I don't however, enjoy being on the spectators balcony at 8 o'clock on a Sunday morning!
At first I had thought the class was 8 in the evening, it didn't even cross my mind that my beloved Sunday morning lie-ins would soon be a distant memory. (I use the term "lie in" very loosely, as anyone with young children knows, 8am is probably as good as it gets)However, the letter confirming my son's place clearly said AM not PM. We are not in April yet, so clearly it wasn't some cruel joke that I would now be up and dressed even EARLIER than the daily school run.
This weekend was our first attempt at making it to the pool so early. Luckily my sister slept over the night before, so I didn't have to drag the other 3 with me, but even getting one out the door on a schedule is traumatizing. Breakfast wolfed down, I yelled the all too familiar "hurry up! Have you got your swimming stuff ready?" Of course he hadn't, cartoons being the distraction to blame. I rummaged through every drawer, purse, pocket in the house looking for a precious £1 for the locker. Every other possible coin was at my diposal, even foreign ones or 10p's that had gone out of circulation years ago. Raiding the kids pocket money we were finally ready to go, we drove along the deserted roads, my son asking where everyone was. "Still in their beds", I replied with more than a hint of jealousy in my voice.
"Where will we park?" I joked, in a fake panic over where to park in the ghost town city centre car park. My 9 year old raised his eyebrows at me in a reaction that was far too teenagey for my liking.
"You've got 4 minutes to get ready" I announced, feeling like my son was entering some kind of mission impossible contest instead of swimming lessons.
We hurried to the sport centre doors, the shutters were opened just enough to let us in. I chucked A's clothes in the locker and could finally relax, I had just one thing on my mind...coffee, strong coffee. Dragging myself back upstairs I pushed open the cafe door. To my horror, the shutters were down, no cafe employee in sight. Looking at the opening hours, there would be no caffeinated beveredges available until 9, by which time A. would be finished his lesson
I fumed on the balcony, hoping the aroma from the coffee flasks brought by more savvy parents would help revive me. Even the gym overlooking the swimming pool was shut. My plan to persuade my husband to take over swimming duty involved using him being able to work out at the same time as our son, as an incentive. I fully intend to keep this disappointing discovery to myself, the kids have been sworn to secrecy. Next week I shall watch daddy dress in his sports gear, pack his Lucozade, fasten whatever calorie counting gadget he has to his being, and not say a word about my discovery.
As 9 o'clock approached, the children for the next lessons filtered down to the pool. Their smug parents looked extremely well rested in comparison to us early birders. Carrying one of the many caffeinated hot drinks now readily available to them, they sauntered out to the balcony, ready to make use of the pre-warmed seats that would soon be vacated. Some were in sports gear, caffeining up before they hit the gym, which was now also fully operational.
There is only one saving grace for the misery of early morning swim lessons...that one, quick little wave my son gave me as he swam towards me made it all worthwhile. I find myself even encouraging him to join the swim club. The thought of early morning training brings me out in a cold sweat, but I want him to be fit and healthy and keep going with a sport he clearly has a talent for. Yes, should my son decide swim club is for him, I'll be there, matchsticks in eyes, and one very large extra strong home made coffee in hand.