Like every good know-it-all mom, I had a clear vision of how things would unfold when I signed my gang up for winter (dark & cold) swimming lessons.
While baby and I watched from the sidelines, my trio would go for their once-a-week dip. There would be splashing. There would be frolicking. They would emerge refreshed and invigorated, all wrapped up in warm, fuzzy towels...as cute as a pack of polar bears.
Because of his work schedule, there are two nights every week that Daddy misses out on dinner, homework, baths and bedtime. We've gotten used to it learned to deal with it, but the dark days of winter never do much to help my watch-the-clock-itis and this seemed a good and healthy way to pass the time. Being able to run them through the shower (literally) and throw them into pajamas would be an added bonus.
My kids love to swim. We've had them in the water from infancy and they took to it like fish (except for my son, who needed a really good pair of goggles to get over the "keep-the-water-out-of-my-eyes-or-i-will-scream" issue).
So after cajoling, prodding and bustling the kids out of the house and into the dark, we were en route to our first winter lesson. Swimming suits smartly hidden under layers of clothes, pajamas and sweaters for added warmth, an impressive array of snacks, and the ever-important goggles. Three-quarters of the way there, I was feeling smug about my superior organizational skills and then it hit me...
"DID ANYONE PUT THE SWIMMING BAG IN THE VAN!??!?!"
Silence (except for the dramatic sigh from oldest child who knew how this would end).
Three perfectly capable kids had marched right past that bag. It's not how things are supposed to go around here; children are expected to bring school bags into the house, extracurricular bags out of the house and dishes to the sink. After unleashing a long string of for-my-ears-only expletives, the van was turned around and I sprinted in to fetch the bag.
"WE WILL BE A PACK OF CUTE POLAR BEARS! DO YOU ALL HEAR ME???"
In the change room, we rushed. Boots, hats, mittens flying in every direction. We burst onto the pool deck, looking anything but cute. With a conga line of disheveled swimmers trailing behind me, I set out to find each child's swimming group (all of which were happily splashing and frolicking without us). It was only then I noticed my son's increasingly frantic sobs.
"MY...(sob, sob, sob)...GOOGLES...(sob, sob, sob)...ARE MISSING."
And here I faced the dreaded stick-to-the-family-rules vs. just-find-a-way-to-make-this-moment-end. I knelt into a puddle of water in front of him (why didn't I think to pack my own pajamas?) and committed one of my biggest parenting sins, "Mommy will go and buy a new pair from the lifeguard. Just wait here." (NOTE: I never, ever buy something to make a kid stop crying with the exception of babies and grocery carts filled with perishable food items).
I ran back to the change room and rifled through jacket pockets for money. Then back out on deck, past sobbing son and into the life guard station.
"GOOGLES. FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, I NEED GOGGLES."
It was only then I noticed the young fella had a very familiar pair in his hand. Apparently, they flew out of our bag and onto the floor during our frantic entrance. Probably around the same time the strap on the bag decided to snap off (really).
Back on deck, relieved boy, splashing and frolicking girls and exactly 10 whole minutes of lesson left.
I've learned: my kids are really good sports, swimming bags are hard to see in the dark, and clock watching might not be a bad thing.
As for the polar bears? I let that roar out after the cubs were asleep.
What about you? Do you put your kids through winter swim lessons?