Yesterday, Saturday, was my turn to take the Elf (4) swimming. This is no easy feat. Granted he's in the pool on his own now, obviously with instructors (I don't just drop him off at the local leisure centre and nip over the road to do my weekly Waitrose shop. "What was it you wanted? More of those snacky flapjacks? See you in half an hour.") It's easier only having one wet bod to dry. When I first started taking Elf swimming when he was a baby, the then Monday 10am class took up the whole morning as I had to return home afterwards to sort my hair out. Having hair that is straightened every day but curls if it's raining even in the neighbouring county, splashed/curly hair is not a look I go for.
Elf's current swimming class is at 8.10am, which requires a pre-7am alarm and a 7.40am departure time. This might sound OK to some mums, but for me it's not. I don't usually move til at least 7.30am, except on the days when I car share with my manager (7am start) and the days when I don't work (I get up at 8am, when OH leaves!). This week it's particularly hard as we had an unheard-of night out together to see OH's cousin's band; very good they were too, but the bedtime of sometime after 1am having downed three glasses of wine and a vodka jelly doesn't set you up well for the day. (Question to self - can you actually down a vodka jelly?)
So he's all changed, all set to go in. I push Elf through to the wetside and make my way up to the viewing gallery. I then see him crying standing alone by the pool. The swimming instructor is in a little cupboard area nearby, but he's on his own. He cries at me to come down and stand with him, but I say "I can't Elf, I have to be up here". The lovely swimming lady takes Elf's hand and he stays with her in her cupboard while she gets ready. I feel guilty but for what, I don't know.
The other children arrive, and guess what? Their parents all stand with them at the side of the pool until the instructor takes them all in. That's obviously what Daddy had been doing all these weeks, oops. I'll remember for next time.
I'm coming to the crux of this blog post. I was the first parent in the viewing gallery, set up with my morning tea in my Berghaus cup and the latest favourite cuddly toy, a white teddy I'd won in a raffle the night before, who Elf wanted to watch him swim.
A dad walks in, sits on the same bench as me. We exchange hellos and various Who is your child etc, how old, how's he doing etc. The second dad walks him, says hello, sits elsewhere. Repeat a couple more times, one of the dads sitting in between myself and first dad, with a younger non-swimming son. We all say hello.
The first dad and I actually had a lovely chat about Centerparcs, nursery committees, the fact that he was a househusband and moaned that his routine went out of the window when his wife was home for half-term (I must admit I really did enjoy listening to the other side of the coin). We share a desire to teach, and discussed ways into teaching via teaching assistant posts.
In between the dads arriving, two mums had arrived. I raised my head and said good morning to them both but neither of them spoke to me. It was only afterwards that it hit me. All of the four or five dads spoke, two of which had a long chat with me, but neither of the mums. This really did surprise me.
I tried to think of reasons why - did they walk into the viewing gallery and see this gorgeous blonde yummy mummy chatting up the dads, think "Oh there's no point trying to join in here, I am outclassed"? Given I was feeling a little hungover from a late night (admittedly more from the late night than the amount of alcohol consumed) I doubt it. Even when I'm feeling at my best, I'd certainly never look like a proper yummy mummy, so that couldn't be the reason why.
Along with me, were they themselves feeling the effects of a few snifters and a late night? Were they were in some dodgy bar last night watching a random live band, and suffering for it the morning after. Yes, they must have been, that had got to be the answer.
In fact I'm sure I recognised them both from the night before, stood just a few metres from me, in the corner, gossiping about what Little One had been up to a pre-school that day, also quaffing vodka jellies. I'll try again next week.