The Swimming Lesson

Babies can be hard work at the best of times. But babies and swimming pools? A mammoth undertaking.

I rock up with the bambino and two huge changing bags containing a multitude of stuff. Big trunks. Little trunks. Cardboard box. A pairs of goggles (for me, not him. Although that would be impressive for his first swimming lesson).

The reception is filled with apprehensive parents. We’re ushered through and I lug boy and bags into a teeny-tiny changing room. On opening said bags I quickly realise I’ve packed them in no real order, so the nappy and trunks are stuffed in right at the bottom. Resulting in everything being flung onto the wet floor in my haste to get him ready Great.

Trunks out. Now just to get them on. They’re made of wetsuit material so rather a tight fit. Trying to force them onto a wriggling, gurgling baby isn’t the easiest. I eventually manage, although they still hang down a bit. MC Hammer eat your heart out.

As I carry Tom into the pool I’m praying we won’t have a repeat incident of The Great British Baby Weigh Off, which involved copious amounts of urine at an inopportune time. As it turns out, another babe will trump him on that at a later date. He has a suspicious look on his face as we get into the water. His best “mummy, what the hell are we doing” demeanour. But no tears. So far, so good.

We bounce our babies around in a circle, as the instructor, a happy-clappy jazz hands type, stands in the middle shouting out instructions. We dance to his merry tune. “Sing to them!”, he exclaims. At this moment I realise I don’t know all the words. What sort of song is this anyway? Ah yes, a timeless classic apparently. What a novice.

“Twinkle, twinkle, little star,  Doo do, er, la la, er ooh ooh, you are….”

I’m smiling at Tom, who remains as bemused as ever.

After a few dittys and an attempt at holding baby in the swimming position, it’s time for the pièce de résistance: Underwater Time!! (smiley faces and tap dance).

The instructor explains he’ll take each baby and dunk them underwater. Preceding this, their parent is to shout “Baby’s name, ready, GO!”

We near the end of the line up and I feel a tad more reassured as I see other babies emerging from the water looking like drowned rats, but otherwise unscathed.

Tom’s turn. I put on my best smiling mummy face and fill my voice with enthusiasm. “Tom, ready, GO!”. Boom. Babe disappears under the water. Turns out he’s not a fan. As he emerges there’s a split second of silence, followed by a piercing scream. His hand shoots out,  and grabs my hair with a vice-like grip.

Oh crap. “Well done, well done, well done” is all I can think of to say, whilst giving my husband an “is he ok” look as he films it from the sidelines with a thumbs up.

After a while he calms down. We do some more singing, bouncing and hand-gliding and before we know it the lesson’s over.*

The following week, and it’s time for Tom’s next underwater excursion. I’m steeled. I’m prepared. Only one changing bag. Proper mummy. Organised mummy. Then my phone beeps.


Welcome to #Nappygate. Thank God it wasn’t Tom. A bizarre scene then pops into my head of Mr Happy Clappy  skipping around the poolside while trying to extricate the offending specimen with a fishing net. All while Christina Aguilera’s “Dirty” plays in the background. Yup. I definitely need to get out more.

*Part of this sentence *may* be a lie.






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