My daughter is going to swimming lessons. It’s not the first time we’ve attempted this. She learnt as a “water baby” where kids are taught not to fear water through half and hour of play and singing (underwater singer and kids listen to water) etc.
She did this for a while, but as with Socca-tots and other kiddie activities she lost interest. I don’t blame her. She wasn’t engaged. Socca-tots was a Saturday morning thing run at a local indoor climbing frame centre. It happened before the main sessions started whilst the floors we still wet from the beer the night before (it was also a bar) and before the floors were freshly dampened with blue slush.
She’s taken to her new swimming lessons like algae to a swimming pool side. She loves her teacher – who’s an elderly commonwealth athlete. He’s got a pool in his garden and despite the phrase “private swimming lessons” it’s very cheap at £50 for 8 lessons. The teacher is not interested in gender equality or whether being competitive causes any problems. He’s a bit old fashion, but lovely.
When the children arrive, they are “naughty children” having not been baptised by the chlorinated 3 foot deep pool. When they leave they are “good boys and girls”. The lessons only last half and hour, so each half an hour, he calls out “Could all to good girls and boys leave the pool and all the naughty children line up on the side, boy-girl-boy-girl”.
My daughter listens to him and he is not afraid to shout at children who might not be listening or doing dangerous things – like pulling each other’s goggles or running on the wet side. He doesn’t believe in arm bands, rubber rings and only lets children use floats when learning the proper way to do the crawl.
When we signed up he was very laid back – “just turn up with your child ready to swim and see how it goes”. He asked for her name, my name and took my phone number. That was it.
We’ve been going 6 months and on Saturday he asked us to fill in a form with medical details, home address etc.
No problem. I have a pen as I write in my “little book of hate” on a regular basis and had brought book and pen with me. The “little book” of hate is just a notebook in which I write my nonsense. Random thoughts and daft ideas are written and then don’t bounce in my head. When the book is filled I chuck it. Simples.
So I take a form and fill out address, medical conditions etc. When I finish, I hold the form and watch my daughter hold her breath for about 8 minutes whilst swimming under water.
I notice a man trying to fill in his child’s form, balancing the paper on his thigh and using a pencil.
Being the type I am I offer the pen to write with and the “book of hate” to lean on. He’s grateful and fills out a legible form in record time. He hands back the little book of hate. He didn’t open it or read any of my mental ramblings – so I didn’t have to kill him. Then he takes the pen and walk to the table near the entrance. Dropping his paper in a basket/ Tupperware box, he put the pen down on the table.
I’m horrified. How will I fill in my “little book of hate”? I decide to follow him and pick up my pen as I put down the form. BUT before I can even stand a woman picks up a blank form and MY pen. HORROR!!
She very slowly fills in the form using my ink. Very very slowly. I know ‘cos I’m watching. She seem to deliberately be taking an awfully long time. Eventually she finishes. But does she rush to put the pen back? NO. She sits there holding it in this tropical heated private swimming pool. She’s sweating onto MY pen. HORRORS. How can I put that in my mouth and try to get the “non lid end” up my nose ever again?
I watch her willing her through all the Jedi skills I have, to put the sodding pen back. She doesn’t. I can’t concentrate on the swimming. I can’t relax.
THEN IT HAPPENED.
She looked at the pen with admiration. You could actually hear her thoughts, “Nice pen!”. In slow motion the handbag is unclipped and the pen disappears inside.
I’m livid. I want to walk up and shout “GIVE ME MY PEN BACK!” It’s not just the fact it’s mine. This is the type of person who steals pens from s children’s swimming class – therefore she’d steal from kids or worse – murder them.
After what seems like six hours, (but was probably 20 seconds), she makes this tiny jolting motion throughout her entire body, opens the bag and takes the pen out. My Jedi skills are working. She’s realised the terrible error of her ways and walks to the table, drops off the form and leaves the pen.
Like a man possessed (by the spirit of a limping elderly hunchback – the roof is 5’5″ around the edges and I have a dodgy leg/ knee/ hip), I bound to the table. BUT SOMEONE BEATS ME TO IT AGAIN!!. I’m horrified.
I’m now stood behind a man filling his form in. He seems to sense my urgency, (damn those Jedi skills!), and he offers for me to fill in my form first. I say “no” and for some stupid reason I flash my form and say “Already filled mine in”. He offers the basket/ Tupperware for the form and again, like a mental I refuse. I don’t even say “thanks”.
So there I am. Stood with a form completed behind a man holding my pen, whilst 20 parents stare at me. I try not to notice and text the entire episode (so far) to my wife. The man is managing to fill his form in slower than that damned woman – probably due to the way he shakes his head from side to side and occasionally looks at me and tutts under his breath. I swear to God that as he finishes he puts the pen as far away from me as possible and mutters “nutter”.
I grab for the pen and make the table move slightly, the Tupperware slightly more, but I don’t knock anything over. The noise of aluminium table on tile in a swimming pool doesn’t go unnoticed.
As I gleefully take the pen from the table and put it into my pocket I notice that every single pair of eyes that is not wearing swimming goggles is looking at me.
As I take my seat, women turn to men who they would never normally talk to and mutter about the pen. About me. About how I would steal from a children’s swimming class – or worse.
After I have been sat for 3 minutes a new parent arrives and picks up a form, They look around for a pen. In unison 20 parents turn to look at me. The woman who tried to steal my pen offers up a biro from her bag.
I want to stand up and shout “I bet she’s got loads in there – SHE TRIED STEAL MINE!! I brought my own, ‘cos a psychiatrist once told me to write down my urges to kill!”.
But I don’t.
I stare at my daughter and pray for this 30 minute swimming lesson to end.
I look at the clock.
Only 20 minutes to go.