Saturday, April 12, 2008

Swimming lessons

I saw a woman yesterday at the shops, and she looked so familiar, but I couldn't quite place her.

As she turned to leave I suddenly remembered. We had seen each other every Monday afternoon at the Uni pool for years, but had never spoken, only nodded maybe, occasionally. Our sons had been approximately the same age, I suppose, and they both had lessons at the same time although they were not in the same class.

We had both taken our little boys into the women's change-room and knelt beside them, helping to dry their tousled hair, rummaging in the bag for the undies, the tracksuit, the ugg-boots. In my memory it is always winter. And there is always at least one mother there who is dressing her kids in pyjamas, even though it is only 5 in the afternoon, and me smiling at her and understanding that, yes, it does make perfect sense, SO much easier.

I can feel my little son's soft, pudgy legs as I write this. I can feel the way the tracksuit would stick to the skin a bit, from the dampness. I can smell EXACTLY how his hair smelt of musty chlorine as I kissed it, because he was being such a good boy and not running around the room like a complete maniac, as he did last week.

When I saw that woman at the shops yesterday, I noticed that she had a tall boy standing beside her, and I thought how strange it was that I had never realised back then that she had an older son as well. Then it hit me, that boy was her little boy, of course, because my little boy is also as tall as me now. Of course. Of course.

Now I'm remembering those swimming lesson days, and I yearn to go back and just once, just once, see again the way my son's pale, pudgy body, clad in teeny-tiny speedos, races ahead of me as I worry that he will slip and fall.

Which is really so odd, and bittersweet, and confusing, because I clearly remember that I hated swimming lesson days, at the time.


Linda said...

It's my first visit and I love your writing, however after reading about your Grandfather's gift I now have to add "jealousy" to my blogging sins of "lurking" and "stickybeaking".

blackbird said...

I am remembering it too...hated it then...he spent half the term refusing to go in the pool.

Badger said...

Hey, you! No one told me you had a blog! Er, until today, that is.

Love this post, coming as it does just one week before my boy child turns 12 and I am FREAKING OUT over his tallness and solidness and suddenly deep-voicedness. I still remember him running around on his toes chirping "heyyo!" to everyone he met. (That would be "hello" but with Ys instead of Ls.)


robiewankenobie said...

okay, so the world famous bb recommended here i am! and you are fabulous, as advertised.

i have read all your posts, and i understand the stress of blogging etiquette. i sometimes feel too effusive. or dorky. or something.

must have library. pleasetobe packing it back up and sending it to me.

as for this post, i want to note that it is 14 days until the pool opens, and my pudgy little guys are going to be there every daggone day (as we were last year). i promise to savor it.

Amy A. said...

I love it now that my kids can shower and dress themselves after the pool. We didn't go very much when I had to wrestle everyone back into their clothing.

Thanks for sharing your very sweet memory.

kim at allconsuming said...

OMG! You're hear! So much to read, haven't read anything yet,!

Ali said...

Just found you (via Blackbird). Am still deeply entrenched in the stuffing soggy child back into clothing phase of life. It does me good to hear others remember it with nostalgia.

kim at allconsuming said...

Dude, I am still at the stage of swimming lessons when I


kt said...

Also here with "blackbird" as my password to enter the speakeasy.

Fear not, your blogging is great! Love your writer's eye. As a fellow mum, I understand missing the little ones who aren't so little.

bluemountainsmary said...

Eleanor I am here.

But not here.

I am on holiday.

Will comment faithfully on my return.

Anonymous said...

I am excited to be here (via bb) for your debut. I'm glad you took the plunge, Eleanor. You've a lovely voice.

RW said...

I was sent here by BB.
Oh. yes. the winter swimming lessons. I much preferred the summer lessons at the outdoor pool.
My son who is now just 13 and rather big still does not enjoy indoor swimming pools. He would be a great lifeguard/ swim instructor but he just doesn't like being wet all the time.