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Monday, 26 January 2009


It felt good when we finally got round to booking swimming lessons for the kids. It had only been on my 'To do' list for, ooh, about three months. Actually, it was Paul who actually rang up and did the booking, in a burst of enthusiasm for Organising Stuff That Sara Has Finally Admitted She Can't Manage All On Her Own And Has Decided to Delegate (this is a novel idea that has only just occurred to me because, whilst effective delegation is a primary skill of mine in the workplace, I only just seem to have got to grips with it at home).
The idea of 9am swimming classes on a Sunday was starting to feel slightly less appealing as we staggered up to bed a little drunkenly at 1.30am after a dinner party with neighbours, and was proving an even less attractive prospect as we peered out of the window into the rainy darkness at 7am the following morning when the alarm went off. On a Sunday. Did I already mention that?
However, I was still feeling smug because, for once, it was not my fault that we were Doing Something Slightly Insane and I could therefore not be grumped at with any shred of credibility by my husband. Instead, Paul was behaving in an unusually chirrupy manner for someone who professes to detest the hours before 10am and who is equally unkeen about jumping willingly into cold water, even at the best of times.
The children, of course, were even more chirrupy and in fact positively leaping with joy and into their swimming costumes, all the time treating us as if we were heaven-sent Parental Beings for taking them swimming, which really made us feel rather good about the whole enterprise.
We should have known something wasn't quite right when we turned up at the poolside to find that Nathan and Ava weren't on the register for the 9am Aquatots class, but the teacher hurriedly explained that it was probably an administrative error and encouraged us all to jump in regardless. Meanwhile, Eden sat on the side giggling at Ava as she screeched in terror at the idea of a Swimming Lesson and peered sideways at the teacher with that Damionesque look she assumes when incredibly suspicious of someone. According to the booking form, Eden's 'Beginners 2' class started at 9.30am, so she was sitting this session out, drawing quietly in her notebook and waiting her turn. I looked up at her from the pool where I was singing 'The Wheels on the Bus' and pedalling Ava's arms up and down in the water, and thought how proud I was of her ability to sit patiently and quietly without fuss while the others had fun in the water.
The end of the class came round and we dragged Ava and Nath out of the pool and into their towels, simultaneously propelling Eden towards the lady with the clipboard who looked like she was in charge so that she could register for her lesson.
Half distracted by trying to contain Ava in her towel I suddenly became aware that Paul was walking towards me with a John-Cleese-in-Fawlty-Towers-When-He-Loses-It face on. There had been an Adminstrative Error (technical term for Total Cock-Up) and the long and the short of it was that Eden wasn't going to get a swimming lesson that day. Her class had begun at 9am and was now over. It was not at 9.30 as we had been informed. Eden was looking at the teacher, across to Paul and then at me, her eyes wide and teary with disbelief and repeating over and over again, "Am I really not going to get a swim?"
And I felt so very sorry for her in that moment that of course the words just came out: "Don't worry, darling. Mummy will make sure you get a swim today, whatever happens."
So it was that about an hour or so later I found myself at another swimming pool across town, climbing back into my already wet swimming costume to take Eden into the pool for a hastily convened Mother And Daughter Swimming Session. As we walked towards the pool we bumped straight into two of the neighbours who had been at our dinner party the night before.
"What happened?" they asked, wondering why I was at another pool with Eden, an hour and a half after our scheduled class at the local leisure centre.
As I briefly downloaded the events of the morning, they both shook their heads. "So this is the second time you've gone swimming this morning? And you've just put your cold, wet swimming costume back on again? And you've got a hangover? That's Hardcore. You're a Hardcore Mum!" they marvelled. And Eden laughed and said, "Isn't my Mum great?"
No. Not really. Not even slightly. But I didn't mind them saying it. Not one bit.

Monday, 12 January 2009

More New Year's Resolutions

1. Count to ten and breeeeeeathe deeply before yelling or snapping at the kids - or Paul.

2. Get back into skinny jeans (err, yes, said items were rather balking at the idea of taking on my new Mince-Pie-Thighs on January 1)

3. Stop leaving it until the morning to work out what to wear. The hasty decision making process can result in some disastrous and clashing consequences. The blurry eyes of morning can enable one to imagine one looks better in something than one's muffin top truly allows. And there isn't time for deliberation or a last-minute switch between wiping bottoms, changing nappies, throwing shreddies in bowls and asking the kids to 'get a move on' again. Ironing anything is completely out of the question.

4. Recognise that there is a credit crunch on. Stop being in denial. Cancel the £2.10 daily take-away coffee on the way into work. Save for a holiday instead!

5. Get fit. Without joining a gym (too expensive). Running and cycling are both free, aren't they? Yes! But WHEN?? My young, free and single friends suggest getting up earlier and going for a run before the kids wake up. 'Sleep deprivation' ain't in their vocabulary yet, though.

I asked the kids what they thought their resolutions should be for 2009. Eden ummed and aah'd a bit and looked slightly mystified. I suggested one or two for her (not that I am controlling, or anything).
"How about doing what you're told first time rather than fifth?" I enquired. She nodded slowly, and reflected. "Could be tough."
"Okay. You could try being a bit kinder to your brother and sister?"... She wrinkled her nose in that way she has.
I tried a different tack.
"What resolutions do you think Nathan should make?" (he's only nearly-four and can't even pronounce 'resolution').
"[...Giggle, giggle] I think he should stop getting naked so much of the time!! [Guffaw, snort]"
Right. I can see this is not being treated with the *utmost* seriousness. Maybe try again next year.

Thursday, 1 January 2009

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year, everyone! Did all your Christmas wishes come true? Have you made (or broken) any New Year's Resolutions yet?
Let me tell you about one of my Christmas wishes, and how the Holiday Season has thoroughly put paid to it, and how that has informed myThorough Commitment to Stop Nagging Paul (NYR No 1):
Well, for a few months now, I have been quietly wondering whether it might be nice to just have one, extra, (final, I promise) teeny, weeny baby. Surely it wouldn't make that much difference, would it? Four rather than three? No problem. Sure, we'd have to buy one of those silly cars... And possibly move house. And I'd have to get another promotion sooner rather than later. And my saggy stomach would be lost beyond reason (I mean, even worse than it is now) and would never, but never, be the same again. But really, what could be easier? One extra would just slip right in. Wouldn't it? Actually, when I say, "Quietly wondering", that's not quite right. In fact it's a fib. I have been quite loudly remonstrating with my other half and suggesting he should stop being so bloody sensible and boring and let me have another one, and he has been loudly remonstrating right back at me that this might not actually be the most brilliant idea I have ever had. Sigh.
However, when I found myself standing in the checkout queue in Ikea three nights before Christmas at ELEVEN FORTY-FIVE PM buying frames in which to mount Star Wars pictures for my son (further to a 10pm visit to Toys R Us for last-minute stocking fillers) I did wonder, "Is my life just a tiny bit FULL already?..." And then the next night, when it was midnight and Paul and I found ourselves arguing over the best way to wrap a Jedi Fighter Craft and we still had, ohh, about FORTY FIVE presents to wrap, the thought began to niggle at me further.
Of course, all the sensible-ness was ruined on Christmas Day when I surveyed my little brood ripping the paper back off all those gifts and laughing and smiling and cuddling us and I thought, "Oh, wouldn't it be nice to have just one more?"....
But dragging three kids round the post-Christmas sales really finished me off.
So, no. I am resolved. And NYR No. 1 actually is: "Stop Nagging Paul for Another Baby and Enjoy What You Have While Holding on to Your Sanity For Dear Life."
More New Year's Resolutions to follow.