Every parent of toddlers or young children knows that a visit to the swimming pool is often no longer a pleasurable experience.
Gone are the days of popping on a swimming cossie and breast stroking your worries away (a phrase with multiple meanings but in this instance, I mean swimming lengths).
Nope. These days, visits to the swimming pool are a couple of hours of mild torture.
Twice a week I take my kids to swimming lessons, which is book end-ed with tears and tantrums. Not all of them from me.
It’s important to me my kids learn to swim. I couldn’t swim until I was about 10, and even now I’m not the most confident in the water. I remind myself of this importance every time I pack the sodding swimming bag, which is so big it looks like I’m fleeing the country.
Instead of a swimming costume and some toiletries, I now have to take multiple items of swimming attire (I don’t want to wear THAT one!), floats, noodles (not super), those Zogg stick things that sink to the bottom and wee on you when you lift them out, weighted hoops, a variety of goggles and all the bloody towels at my disposal.
Why lots of towels I hear you ask? Well, it’s so I can wrap my children up like a soggy fajita after swimming on account of every changing room being −10°C and having sporadic wind machines dotted on the ceiling and walls. Why are they so sodding cold? Wet people need warmth – not air con!
I suspect I am particularly sensitive on account of some trauma I’ve experienced whilst swimming with kids. There is the usual ‘heart in mouth’ feeling I get every time one of them shouts CANNON BALL while bombing into the pool, full of confidence and no longer in armbands (gulp).
But that’s not the trauma I’m referring to here. It’s the times when my son shat in the learner pool and closed the whole thing down. Yes, that’s right, TIMES. Not just once.
My beloved Sonny has form for cranking one out mid-swim. NOTHING fills you with dread more than seeing the little brown nuggets of shame floating on the surface of the water. NOTHING.
On the multiple occasions it’s happened, I’ve shamefully headed over to the 17 yr old lifeguard, confessed to the sin and watched as she or he sighs, shouts for everyone to get out and then gets ‘the net.’
It’s like the scene from Jaws where everyone bolts from the water, petrified of the predator that’s coming from them. I’m not sure if you’ve ever seen poo in water, but it spreads like wildfire. You’re powerless to stop it.
Luckily, now Sonny is 5 and a bit, he’s stopped crapping in water (she says with fingers crossed). So naturally, I assumed that swimming pool trauma and embarrassment were a thing of the past. Until a couple of weeks ago, when I took Bessie for her lesson on a quiet Tuesday afternoon.
All seemed well. Bessie was happy to play and even curbed her bombing for a bit, giving me chance to breathe. She went off to her lesson, waved me goodbye, and I left the learner pool and entered the ‘big pool,’ to swim some lengths.
I always chose the slow lane, as I don’t like the pressure of the medium or fast lanes. It took me a little while to enter the pool, as I have to look at the sign and then trace it with my fingers on the lane to figure out if you’re supposed to swim clockwise or anti-clockwise. When there was a suitable gap, I smiled at the lifeguard and hopped in.
As I swam past the lifeguard I saw him looking at me with a disturbed look on his face. Oh, that’s funny, I thought. Maybe he remembers me from the various shit gates of yesteryear. Although he looked about 12, and so I then wondered if he had even worked there for that long, or if he had the mental capacity to remember faces he didn’t see on Snapchat.
It can’t be that, I decided, and swam on, trying to put it to the back of my mind.
There was a few of us in the slow lane, including a couple of men, and after a few lengths, I noticed they looked at me with an odd look too. What’s going on? Did I have mascara down my face? For once I’d removed my make up before I got in so it couldn’t be that. Unperturbed, I swam on.
When I’d finished I went to watch the last part of Bessie’s lesson. I sat down on the side of the learner pool and soon realised why everyone was looking at me with moderate shiteye.
MY TAMPON STRING WAS ON SHOW TO THE WORLD.
It had crept out of my swimsuit and was stuck to my leg. A little pointer heading right for my vag, saying ‘hello – here be blood.’ In the water, it must have looked like a little white worm, waving at my fellow swimmers, flagging the fact I was in the midst of my lady times.
Oh fuckedy fuck. I couldn’t leave now, Bessie’s lesson was nearly done and she likes to play in the non-lesson part of the baby pool for 10 minutes after her session. I was surrounded by parents who were also waiting for their little one and I wasn’t sure which of them had noted my errant string. Embarrassed, I tried to shove it back in my cossie, but this looked like I was having a good old scratch of my foof, and made me go even redder in the face.
It was a tense ten minutes. I tried to forget about it and just get out of there before the lifeguard had tweeted it out (#fannyplug). Using one of my many towels I fajita-ed the shit out of myself and resolved to always, always check myself in a mirror before I swim with Aunt Flo. Or better yet, just have a cup of tea in the cafe during the lesson.
It’s safer for everyone.
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