Sunday 18 January 2015

The Swimming Cap

‘Paddle and kick, paddle and kick’ bellowed Sue, our local swim teacher, as Daisy, my bright and bubbly two year old tried desperately to impress her, flapping her arms and legs about in the water. She’d been taking swimming lessons for awhile, I remember wanting to put her in them as early as they would let me. See, as a child I was absolutely terrified of the water. Suggest swimming in the ocean, and I would run away screaming– the sharks are going to eat me, the jellyfish will sting me, there will be stone fish in there, the fish might touch me, the waves will knock me unconscious and I will die. You name it - I feared it.
As a result, Daisy was in lessons the minute the swim school allowed it. I would have enrolled her in utero if it were possible. She thrived, singing ‘Row, Row, Row your boat’ whilst floating around on a pool noodle, before being dunked under the water and coming up with her face full of sheer delight. Swimming lessons were a success. One tick for me in the ‘good mummy box’, please!

Until. Toilet training visited our household. I don’t mean to brag, but heck, why not – Daisy was awesome at going to the toilet. She poo’d and wee’d in the toilet better than anybody I had ever seen before. I was so proud of her – she was a natural. She took to staying dry through the night instantly as well. What a star! I remember calling up my friends, some of who don’t have children yet, bragging about how my child was going to be the next Einstein because she could wee and poo in the toilet and she wasn’t even two yet! What a talent, I thought. Surely that meant another tick in the good mummy box! My friends (without children) didn’t see the big deal of course. I would hang up the phone, somewhat dejected, and my Husband would reassure me that yes, our beautiful girl was in fact exceptional. Thank God for husbands who lie to make their wives feel better!
The trouble came when I combined the two things at which my child excelled – swimming, and toilet training. I recall sitting on the slightly damp plastic chairs at the swim school, waving and cheering for Daisy as she performed each task with relative ease. Her Dad was in the pool with her, taking her through each challenge, and giving exuberant praise at the end of each one – just as I had instructed, when suddenly I heard him whisper ‘shit’ in a low yet panicked voice I could only just decipher.
What happened? All too quickly my childhood fears revisited me – had she swallowed too much water? Had a shark somehow escaped into the swimming pool and torn off one of her limbs? Visions of my daughter growing up without limbs because of a freak shark accident came flooding into my mind. But no. Soon enough I noticed the swim teacher waving her arms in the air, trying to get the attention of the manager. She then began screaming ‘get out everyone, get out of the pool’, and parents with their babes in arms began abruptly climbing over each other in a bid to escape.
 I was so confused, I looked to my husband for some kind of explanation when I noticed that he was the only one not getting out of the pool. The swim teacher got out and stood at the side, leaning in to instruct him. ‘You’re going to have to get it out’ I heard her say, in a voice filled with disgust, despite her trying to remain professional. Still sitting on the side amidst the panicking parents, I began joining the dots…I hadn’t put a swim nappy on my daughter today. Why? Because my child Einstein had this toilet training thing covered. Suddenly I realised what my husband meant when he whispered ‘shit’. My spirited child had done a poo in the pool, resulting in a mass evacuation of all swimmers. All of the parents were now out of the pool, their sopping wet children crying and complaining because their swimming lesson was cut short. Only my husband and my pooping little daughter remained in the water, their faces filled with shame. I looked at my husband imploringly, silently wishing he would do something in response to the swim teachers instruction to ‘get it out’ – when I saw him reach up and pull Daisy’s swimming cap from her tangled blonde locks. He carefully scooped the cap into the water and after a few failed attempts; he managed to secure the floater safely in the cap. With the poo now secured, he began heading for the side, Daisy clinging to his arms, now happily chatting away about how she was a good girl for doing a poo. I could feel my face flush bright red as the parents began filing past me to get to the change rooms.
My gaze returned to my husband who was now holding the cap above the water. As he came to the edge, he thrust the cap in my direction, indicating that I should take it from him. So I stood up and grabbed the cap, and immediately began to admonish my husband ‘didn’t you ask her if she needed to use the toilet?’ To which he replied sarcastically ‘No, I told her to just drop it in the pool, because that’s what everyone does – what do you think I said?’ Good point, Husband.

Without speaking, we headed out towards the car park, too ashamed and embarrassed to bother with the change rooms. My husband walked ahead of me, head bowed, and I tried not to make eye contact with anyone as I walked – soiled swimming cap in hand, wondering how it all went so terribly wrong. My child was supposed to be a genius.
And as far as I knew, geniuses weren’t supposed to poo during swimming lessons.

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