(Note: I wrote about half of this yesterday before collapsing from exhaustion. Just pretend you are reading this yesterday.)
Back in April, I bought a summer pass to our local rec center because I wanted to give the children more opportunities to swim and also get myself into a swimming pool more often. It has long been a fantasy of mine to go swimming on a regular basis. If you dug around the interwebz, you'd probably find more than one place where I mentioned my desire to go swim laps. Or whined. I might have been whining. My goal for the summer is to try to hit the pool once a week. Today, after the bulk of the schoolwork has been finished at long last, I decided to do a trial run on a morning swim.
The indoor pool opens before I ever care to be awake and is largely reserved for lap swimmers. The outdoor pool opens at 10am. The plan was to leave home around 9, get Ella and Marian (and maybe Sam) signed into the babysitting room by 930, send the big kids to the gym, swim laps for 30 minutes in the indoor pool, round up all the children, and give them an hour in the outdoor pool. We should be home by noon, in time for lunch.
Here is what actually happened:
We didn't leave the house until 1015. Why the delay? Nobody got dressed when they got up like they had been told. Nothing was together. Breakfast wasn't finished until after nine. We ran around trying to get everything ready. Lots of arguing about goggles. I am slow. Children stare a lot.
Action Item #1: Get it all together the previous night.
We arrive at the rec center. I boldly walk to the front desk and declare my ignorance. I ask how to get into childcare and how to get a locker. I sign for a locker key and have to leave my car keys.
Sam and Marian agreed to stay with Ella in childcare. Since this was their first time, I had to fill out the information sheets for each of them. I learned that, surprise! all children must have some kind of foot covering in order to be allowed free movement. Even the 8m old. The lady told me Ella would have to be confined to a jumpy chair. Something, something protecting feet from getting stepped on? How socks accomplish this, I am unsure. Also siblings are not allowed to pick up baby. Oh yay. Certain this will not end well, the childcare worker picks Ella up and turns away from the door and I sneak out. The time is 1050.
Action Item #2: Find footwear for Ella.
I make my way into the locker room. I shove all our supplies into the locker, take my coverup off, grab my towel, and without shame, carry my green floaty noodle into the pool area. I discover all the swim lanes are claimed so I have to decide which person I get to bother and ask to share a lane. I decide to ask an older lady who seems to be swimming slowly. She agrees.
And there I am. In a pool! I am sorry to admit I have forgotten how to float. I need that green floaty noodle. However I am undeterred. I start kicking laps, back and forth. I try to float on my back. I remember how to do this, but discover that getting water in my ears makes my eardrums feel like they might explode. Was it always like this? No matter. The slow, older lady regularly laps me. My legs burn before I swim one length. No matter. I am swimming in a pool like a boss. A boss with a green floaty noodle. I swim for 30 entire minutes. I attempt to get out of the pool. I cannot pull myself out of the water. I have to cross two rope lines to get the steps. Under the water, ears exploding, under the rope, out of the pool. I did it! I swam by myself for exercise!
Action Item #3: Figure out how to stop the problem of the exploding eardrums.
Action Item #4: Remember how to float.
Action Item #5: Get stronger.
I dry off and go to retrieve Ella from childcare. It's been an hour and close to noon. (How does it take 15 minutes on either side of the pool?) I open the door to find her crawling all over the floor. They decided to make an exception to the no crawling without socks rule just this one time. Whatever. I am told she got significantly upset several times, but Sam and Marian did an outstanding job of calming her down. Everyone survived! Grace and Olivia appear out of nowhere.
Now back to the locker room to get all the children ready to swim in the outdoor pool. This takes a ridiculous amount of time. We finally go out to the pool and have to apply sunscreen. This takes an even more ridiculous amount of time. The Kroger brand spray sunscreen doesn't want to spray. It takes my two hands and a lot of pressure. I have to rely on the children to spray me. They could barely work the can. Ella has to be sprayed too. She is unimpressed. The stranger child watching her scream while I tried to cover her in sunscreen observed, "I feel sorry for that baby."
Action Item #6: Don't cheap out on sunscreen.
Finally the children are given leave to get in the pool. It is now 12:30, 30 minutes after I expect to be home. We are having a learning experience. Ella is hungry so I feed her. She and I get in the pool at about 12:40. She is unsure but splashes a little while I hold her on my hip. The lifeguard whistles everyone out of the pool at 12:50 for a ten minute break. We are, indeed, having a learning experience.
The children want a snack. We don't have food. I am that kind of mother. We decide to wait out the break, get back in the pool another 15-20 minutes and then go home.
While in the pool after the break, I have Ella on one hip and Marian on the other walking back and forth at 3.5 feet in the very crowded pool because neither can swim. Marian asks to go play on the slide that's at 1 foot depth. She quickly changes her mind and attempts to drown herself by walking back out to me further than she can touch. Fun times. (M was fine. It's mostly horrifying in retrospect since I didn't know she was coming and I turned around to find her flailing for me. She didn't even cough any water.) Ella, in the meantime, falls asleep on my hip. This makes twice she has conked out in a pool. Is it that relaxing or is this a stress response?
Action Item #7: Try to avoid the 1 o'clock pool break.
Action Item #8: Talk to Marian (again) about pool safety. (How do you keep two non-swimming children safe in a pool at the same time? There's only one of me.)
Finally, it is time to go. We get out, dry off, and head back home. We pull into the driveway at 230pm. We are starving. Crankily, children are tended and fed. I eat lunch at 3:20. I collapse in a heap for the rest of the day.
Action Item #9: Figure out how to go on a morning swim and eat lunch before late afternoon.
So there it is! I successfully executed a swim outing. It didn't go exactly as planned, but I managed to do it. I fought multiple rounds of discouragement but decided it was a preliminary run. We will try again next week.
Turn-taking? Marian and Ella take turns having childcare time and swim time? One visit it’s one, next visit t’other?
Honestly, I am wildly impressed. With my first child (who was an only for far more years than I had hoped and planned) I did all the things all the time and was sure I had this parenting gig down, yes sir and he could swim from a very young age and we swam in pools and lakes and rivers and the ocean go me, super mother .... Then much much later I was blessed with two babies close in age. Blessings! But ... Swimming? Two of them, one of me. Water made them both anxious-all-caps ... Um ... Pride, fall, etc. Ah well. :-)
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