It can't be nearly Autumn, can it? I can't believe it's been two and a bit months since my last blog, not great, so thanks for sticking with me, and for prodding me via twitter to get going again.
Anyway, now we're back home at work and school, and getting back into the daily grind. So, this afternoon, I took the kids along to the local leisure centre to have them assessed for swimming lessons. Just to see what classes they'll be in, as Finlay (8) has had lessons before, Amy hasn't but wants to be a 'big girl'.
So, after much scrabbling to find the swimming costumes in the as yet unpacked holiday suitcases littering the floor, we raced over, got changed and arrived breathless at the poolside. Steve had told me to wear my costume as I would probably have to go in with Amy as she can't actually swim yet. It was pretty busy, with parents waiting by the side of the pool to have their children assessed, and in the audience-style seating at the side, watching their little darlings splash up and down. It was busy, but not with any parents wearing their swimming costume, apart from me. It was like turning up for a job interview at a bank dressed as a banana.
I tried to pretend it was the most normal thing in the world to stand next to fully clothed people while wishing I had shaved my legs or at least put on some body lotion. Or make up. Or a wet suit; anything but my functional-but-not-attractive black cozzie.
Finlay got into the water and thrashed his way up and down the pool with varying degrees of accuracy, and was told he could sign up for level 5. Marvellous. Now it was Amy's turn.
Amy had kept herself busy during this time by wandering over to the water's edge and giving me a heart attack; it helped pass the time and distract me from my lack of clothes. The lady came over and asked us to follow her to the kiddies pool so she could see how Amy managed in the water. Amy ran straight for the slide. "Not now Amy" I said quietly, trying to look in control while holding my tummy in. "The lady wants to see you swim". "I want to go on the slide!" shouted Amy. I crouched down and explained in what I hoped was an authorative yet loving voice that we were here so the lady to see which swimming class she could start, so she could be a big girl. I saw it sink in, and she let me take her over to the lady, who was wearing a T-shirt and shorts and had the hairiest legs I have ever seen on a female human.
"Come on" she crooned to Amy, who took one look at her and said "No. I want Mummy to teach me". So I got into the knee-deep kiddies pool and helped her in. "Can you show me how you can swim?" asked the lady, kindly. "No!" shouted Amy, and scampered off to the slide again. I prised her off and led her back to where the lady (whose legs were now wet AND hairy) was waiting.
As I let her go, she doubled back and legged it to the blooming slide again. The lady looked at me, and I looked at her, and all the people in the stand looked at me looking at her, and I threw in the towel. Not literally, they were still in the locker; I just decided this wasn't really working. She agreed, and quietley told me Amy should apply for level 1, and headed back to the big pool where sensible children wearing swimming caps were doing as they were told. I looked around; we had now been joined in the kiddies pool by two groups of tiny tots, all wearing swimming caps, and all listening like little angels to the girls telling them what to do. They splashed when they were told to splash, they kicked their little legs when told to kick, and all their mums and dads watched from the side, nudging each other smugly.
I waded my way through the shallow water over to Amy, who was sitting on the top of the slide. "Right. Come on, it's time to go now."
"No! I want to slide!"
"OK, one more slide then we go."
"Two or none, don't push it missy."
With a look of triumph, Amy slid down the tiny slide and raced round to the ladder. I looked at her and said quietly "One more, then we're going". I walked over to Finlay, who was standing bored by the side of the pool. Amy slid down the slide.
"Right mrs, that's your lot, we're going now."
"No!" Amy ran round again and climbed up the little steps, and sat on the top of the slide. I could feel every eye in the place watching how I was going to handle this - it was better than Emmerdale. I held in my tummy and panicked quietly to myself. What would Supernanny do?
"Get down Amy" I said quietly, and looked firm.
"No" she said quietly back, and her little hands tightened their grip on the slide.
"You either get down now, or I take you off. One.. two..." And the little devil slid down the slide, a look of supreme triumph on her face; she had had THREE slides instead of two.
I decided to ignore that fact (for now, people were leaning forward, I'm sure popcorn was being passed around). "Let's go Amy, time to get changed".
"No! I want a swimming lesson!"
"Not today, we're finished here now. Let's go home and have some tea shall we?"
"No! I want a SWIMMING LESSON!"
She dropped down onto her back in the inch-deep water. I bent down over her, keeping my voice low. "Get up Amy, or I go home without you". People were straining forward in their seat to hear.
"I WANT A SWIMMING LESSON!" Amy bellowed. I took her hand and tried to pull her to her feet. She thrashed in the water and drenched us both, slipped out of my hand and started to run away. I grabbed her and made a bolt for the changing rooms, with her yelling at the top of her voice all the way. I was so stressed I forgot to hold in my tummy, and actually didn't care if my cellulite was showing. I just wanted to get AWAY. Finlay quietly followed us back into the changing room, where Amy tried to run out the door into reception.
What followed was a series of shouts, banging of locker doors, mutterings and finally dragging of one wet, half-dressed little girl to the car, followed by one fully-dressed, wishing he didn't have a sister, little boy.
They are in bed now. We had tea, did bathtime and homework and snuggled down as a little family watch Finlay's current favourite show 'One Foot In The Grave'. We laughed a lot, and Amy fell asleep curled into my side. she looked like a little angel when I carried her up to bed.
A little angel who quite possibly will never be taken to a swimming pool ever again.