Four and a Dog

A blog about family life

Swimming Monsters

I know…I know…it’s been ages.

I am full of remorse and have many tales to tell and will get better at sharing again. For now I will leave you with something I wrote ages ago and somehow forgot about.

Diva has always loved swimming, and last summer we enrolled her in a local swim class. I was nervous about how she would cope being in the pool without me so chose a leisure centre where I could sit right next to the pool. Building up to her first lesson we did a lot of prep work. I gave detailed accounts about technique and style; I assured her that I would be right next to the pool and poised ready for any necessary rescue procedures; I even talked at length about swimming teachers and what wonderful human beings they all are. I admit that the scale model of the leisure centre with the addition of Happyland figures may have been unnecessary, and pretending to act out scenes from Casualty might have briefly backfired, but at least we were prepared. On the day of her first lesson she walked straight on to the poolside, without even a backward glance, while I stood waving like a needy mother on the wings.

As time has gone on, certain rituals have become part of her weekly swim. Before getting in the car Diva refuses to go to the toilet so we decide not to go after all. Diva then goes to the toilet and we all get in the car. During the car journey there, Diva and I sometimes take it in turns to make up songs or stories based around a chosen animal. On other occasions, she takes this opportunity to discuss some of life’s important questions, such as, “Why did Great Grandad die? When I get older I will be a doctor for children- as long as they are good. Where has the moon gone?”

Once in the changing room, Diva comments on how much she likes her swimsuit and her goggles and her new soft swim hat that is much better than the sticky plastic one she used to have. She then dances around the changing room playing with the showers (wearing her goggles of course) until it is time to go in to the pool. During this whole process Bruiser has to stay in his buggy. After several weeks he has finally resigned himself to this fact and only occasionally protests.

As soon as her lesson begins, Bruiser and I move to the bench next to the small pool. There are a series of thick glass windows between us and the pool, but this doesn’t stop Diva trying to provide me with a running commentary of what’s going on. I have given up trying to explain that I can’t hear her and instead nod and give occasional thumbs-up to be encouraging. I used to spend the entire lesson trying to bribe Bruiser to stay still with raisins whilst chasing him around the seating area. These days he is nearly always asleep for the duration of the lesson. I’m not going to lie to you, it’s pretty fantastic.

Diva has gone from never putting her head under the water to spending most of the lesson submerged. Even when she is not swimming she is constantly bobbing up and down and splashing about. In no time at all she seems to have turned in to a proper little mermaid. I admit that I am ridiculously proud of how well she is doing.

After the lesson she tells me, and everyone else, that she can put her face in the water…and that she is four. She then gets upset that her new best friend G is going home and spends a few dramatic moments declaring her undying love for G and bemoaning how much she will miss her.

On the way out to the car, we pretend that there is a monster trying to eat us and I have to get everyone in to the car before he does. I also have to briefly fight the monster for the buggy, before eventually triumphing and getting it in the boot. I suspect the other mums in the car park are very impressed with my performance.

The monster then continues to chase the car home. At regular intervals we push him off and tell him to go away, but still he keeps coming. About half way home, Diva usually decides that the monster now wants to be her friend and we let him jump in to the car with us. We then have to telephone the monster’s parents to find out if he has permission to come to our house for tea. I relay the conversation to Diva and explain that the monster is due to visit his grandparents’ house so will need to go home. Diva then requests my imaginary phone and has her own conversation during which she persuades the monster parents to visit Grandma’s house tomorrow instead, thus freeing monster to come home with us instead. How nice.

Once home I have to help everyone out of the car, including the monster, and then offer a suitable monster snack. Apparently monsters only like chocolate. Without it they will be forced to eat us up instead.

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