down at the pool

The Setting:

Friday after school at the local swimming baths. Unisex changing rooms with small cubicles, thronging with tetchy children and exhausted parents. Floor awash with puddles and cluttered with buggies. Damp air infused with the smell of chlorine and toilets. Building reverberates with shrieks of children and muffled expletives of parents.

The Team:

The Mum – harassed mum-of-three. Aims to sail seraphically through the weekly swimming experience. Never does.

Son 1 – at 6 years old, takes his responsibilities as oldest brother very seriously. In fact, is by far the most ‘together’ member of the whole team. Mostly seen sighing with exasperation and telling everyone to ‘hurry up!’

Son 2 – 4 years old. Easily distracted from the task in hand. Whatever the task.  Mostly to be seen leaving his swimming bag on the driveway where he stopped on the way to the car to examine a stone.

The baby – usually laid-back, but this weekly excursion pushes him to the limits of his endurance.

Now over to our commentators Bill and Bob as they talk us through the weekly Swimming Run

Bill: “You join us in the car park outside the pool. It’s 4.28 and the boys’ swimming lessons are due to start any minute. We had expected to have seen our team arrive before now but so far, there’s been no sign. What do you suppose has happened to them Bob?”

Bob: “Well, I’m not entirely sure but, between you and me, the Mum’s time keeping is not exactly great… ”

Bill: “And this week is no exception I see… but wait, here they are now! They’ve finally arrived in the car park, Mum has slammed the car to a halt in the nearest space and has leapt out!”

Bob: “An inauspicious start, Bill – she’s already looking rather frazzled!”

Bill: “Yes, although she’s unloading the buggy out of the car at lightning speed… Oooh, ouch that looks painful! Those buggies can be remarkably heavy when you drop them on your foot, Bob!”swimming things

Bob: “They can indeed, although Mum seems to have barely registered the pain, she’s too busy hauling the baby out of the car and into the buggy while also making sure the other two don’t race across the car park!”

Bill: “They do seem keen, don’t they! I can hear Son 1 shouting ‘Come on, Come on! The lesson’s starting!'”

Bob: “And they’re all off across the car park at a run now!”

Bill: “… and in through the doors of the pool…”

Bob: “… and out again to get Son 2 who stopped to swing round a bollard.”

Bill: “Phew! They’ve made it to the changing rooms. If they get changed quickly, there’s a chance they’ll only miss the first five minutes of the lesson!”

Bob: “Hmm, although it’s hard to see how they’ll achieve that in here Bill, the place is heaving! Are there any spare cubicles?”

Bill: “Mum’s searching frantically around for a free one… ”

Bob: “… a hard task when you’re pushing a buggy with a flat tyre through a crowd of flapping arms and slamming lockers!”

Bill: “She nearly got whacked in the face with a hair dryer there, Bob!”

Bob: “Ah! But she’s seen a cubicle, and is fighting her way towards it!”

Bill: “Oh no! Another mum just beat her to it!”

Bob: “But wait, don’t worry, she’s seen another – it’s right down next to the showers but she’s squeezed them all into it.”

Bill: “Well, apart from the baby… the buggy wont fit so she’s just wedged him in the open door.”

Bob: “He’s a fan of water is he, Bill? Because he seems to be getting quite sprayed there!”

Bill: “I don’t think mum’s even noticed… she’s trying to help Son 2 out of his trousers…”

Bob: “… which appear to have pockets stuffed with pebbles which are now scattering over the floor!”

Bill: “Meanwhile Son 1 is standing on one leg in a puddle behind the door ripping his clothes off frantically.”

Bob: “That’s it! Son 1 is ready! The strap on his goggles has come undone but Mum is too busy trying to get Son 2 out of his tangled t-shirt to help him.”

Bill: “I guess he’ll just have to get water in his eyes today Bob.”

Bob: “He’s looking resigned to that… he’s made it across to the pool to his lesson though… and Son 2 isn’t far behind!”

Bill: “Result! They’re both in pool!”

Bob: “Rather late Bill… ”

Bill: “True, but something in Mum’s expression tells me she considers anything before 4.45 to be a small victory.”


Bob: “Mum’s taking a moment now to sort out the chaos of the cubicle… ”

Bill: “And to wipe the baby down where he’s been sprayed by the shower. And, Oh dear, she’s realised that he’s been chewing Son 2’s goggles this whole time. That’s why he’s been so quiet.”

Bob: “Both boys will have to go goggle-less then; Mum’s shaking her head in exasperation!”goggles

Bill: “But good news! – everything’s away in lockers now so mum can go to the spectator area for a well-earned sit down.”

Bob: “If she can find any free seats… or space for the buggy.”

Bill: “Yes, it’s a bit cramped in there isn’t it? And by the looks of everyone in there, it’s boiling hot too!”

Bob: “But look – Mum has managed force her way into the corner and has even found a tiny bit of windowsill to perch on!”

Bill: “Behind a toddler who appears to be in hysterics over a banana.”

Bob: “Yes, it’s not exactly the best seat in the house from that respect… she’ll need to keep an eye out for chunks of flying fruit.”

Bill: “The baby’s getting restless siting in that cramped spot on her lap too… oh, but it’s ok, Mum’s realised that if she bounces him up and down while waving a toy in front of him, singing ‘The Wheels on the Bus’ and pulling funny faces then he doesn’t cry.”

Bob: “Mum looks like she might though – it’s already five ‘o clock and time to go back to the changing rooms to help get the boys dressed!”


Bill: “Mum’s fighting her way to the showers through hordes of wet swimmers and shampoo-wielding parents… I can see an advantage to having a buggy now Bob, it’s actually quite a useful tool isn’t it? – kind of like a snowplough!”

Bob: “You could say that! She’s made it to her sons and is now squirting shampoo on them… from a distance, mind, as she doesn’t want to get wet herself. Not the easiest task.”

Bill: “No, I can see that – Son 2 has started screaming; he’s got shampoo in his eyes.”

Bob: “And Son 1 has now finished his shower and is shivering violently while Mum tries to pull his towel out of the swimming bag.”

Bill: “While also trying to wipe Son 2’s eyes with… what’s that she’s holding Bob?”

Bob: “I believe it’s a pair or Mr Man pants… it was the first thing that came to hand when she opened her handbag!”

Bill: “Interesting. Well, it’s done the trick anyway and she’s also managed to pull out both the towels and even found a spare cubicle for them!”

Bob: “No space for the baby again though – he’s propping the door open again.”

Bill: “Except now he’s started crying and Mum is taking him out of the buggy… is that wise, would you say?”

Bob: “I wouldn’t say so, no – she’s now trying to help the other two get out of sticky, wet costumes and into clothes with him balanced on her hip.”

Bill: “Still screaming… “20140313_080157-1

Bob: “She doesn’t look best pleased by Son 1’s announcement that he’s lost one of his socks. I think it got kicked under the bottom of the cubicle at some point… oh there it is, he’s found it! It’s wringing wet so it looks like he’ll be going home sock-less.”

Bill: “Looks like we’re reaching the final stages though – both sons are now putting their shoes on!”

Bob: “And now they’re all managing to squeeze out of the tiny cubicle… ”

Bill: “And Mum’s strapping the baby into the buggy.”

Bob: “Still screaming… ”

Bill: “And now I suppose they’ll be heading for the hair dry… oh, no Mum’s just shaken her head.”

Bob: “No time for hair drying, clearly… she seems very keen to make it back to the car!”

Bill: “They’re outside!”

Bob: “And back inside to get Son 2 who stopped to look at a poster of a horse…”

Bill: “.. and back outside again… Son 1 has taken over pushing the buggy and Mum is carrying… well, everything else. Were they planning a three-week holiday with all those bags, Bob?”

Bob: “Not this time Bill, although I strongly suspect Mum is thinking about a holiday right now! They’ve nearly made it back to the car though!”

Bill: “And they have! She’s loading them all in, both the boys and the baby.”

Bob: “Still screaming… ”

Bill: “What’s that she’s muttering to herself?”

Bob: “It sounded like ‘Never again!'”

Bill: “Doesn’t she say that every week?”

Bob: “Oh yes Bill, she certainly does. Every. Single. Week.”


And then the fun began...
Prose for Thought

24 thoughts on “down at the pool

  1. Sarah Miles

    LOVE the way you’ve written this, very clever (and funny!).

    And this, by the way, is why I LOATHE swimming…

  2. Elizabeth - Waiting to blossom

    Hooray Bill and Bob are back! You know I was thinking of them when I was watching the commentary on the Winter Olympics and hoping they would make an appearance again. Fabulous fabulous fabulous!! Wonderful writing and my god I hate taking the kids to swimming lessons and can empathise with every line xxx

    1. Maddy Post author

      I was hoping they would make another appearance on the blog – was just waiting for inspiration to strike! Had such a nightmare at the pool last week I could almost hear them in my head commentating on it all! Thanks Elizabeth xx

  3. Vicki - The Free From Fairy

    OMG, I have been laughing out loud (I think my husband thinks I am a bit odd!!). So so funny and I can certainly empathise with the whole thing! I hate swimming lessons and only my eldest (6) does them and my youngest (4) does what yours does…onlyI don’t have to get him changed too (he just hides in lockers), and I don’t have a baby to contend with. How do you do it??!! I can feel the stress levels rising just thinking about it :). Thanks for visiting my blog…will be back to yours next time I need cheering up!!

    1. Maddy Post author

      So glad it made you laugh! Sometimes I just have to laugh at the expereince or I’d cry! Thanks for visiting my blog Vicki.

  4. Chrissie Metcalf (Kristina)

    Love this. Brilliant writing. Brave mummy too. I’d never take my three that near to water haha.

    1. Maddy Post author

      Thanks Chrissie. I put off swimming for as long as I could since I hate it, but in the end I thought I’d better let them learn!

  5. Verily Victoria Vocalises

    I loved the school run one of these that you did and now I LOVE this one – it’s fantastic :) Son 2 made me crack up – especially the bit when he started spreading pebbles on the floor! Thank you for making me laugh and thank you for linking to Prose for Thought x

  6. Helen Braid

    This is brilliant! I can identify completely with this – our weekly trip to the swimming ends up in me turning into a flustered crazy lady every single time. Hilariously written!

  7. David / Oddly active

    Ha! I remember taking Ben swimming in the toddler pool for the first time. He loved the pool, but went into complete meltdown under the shower afterwards. Finally quit the building about an hour later with him in nowt but a nappy and me in soaking swimming shorts and t-shirt… we got dressed (kind of) in the car park… Yes, that muttered ‘never again’ seems all too familiar! :)

    Oh – #Prose4T etc (better late than never – I’ve had a busy weekend!)

  8. Morgan Prince

    Absolutely fantastic! It’s 11.31pm and my eyes are trying to close but couldn’t let them, I had to finish reading! This is really great and made me smile. I remember those days trying to sort out swimming stuff and baby at the same time. I really felt for ‘Mum’. #Prose4T

  9. Maddy Post author

    Thanks Morgan, I’m getting the feeling that the picture it paints is a familiar one for a lot of people! All the other mums I see at the pool look totally frazzled too!

  10. Emily Page

    Ha ha! Love it. Those lessons are never long enough are they?! I only have one child to co-ordinate to swimming, but by the time I’ve negotiated him into the car, out of the car, into the changing room, out of his clothes and into his trunks and delivered him – to all intents and purposes, kicking and screaming – to his swimming teacher, I too could quite easily jet off for a fortnight’s holiday somewhere remote, before having to find the energy and patience to negotiate him through the showers, out of wet trunks and in to dry (ish) clothes again. A brilliant, funny piece. Thank you.

    1. Maddy Post author

      Thanks Emily! It’s nice to know I’m not the only one! wishing all mums (and dads) a less stressful time at the pool!

  11. Sara | mumturnedmom

    Ah, I can relate! In the end I changed the boys classes to the weekend so that their dad could take them… And, I just don’t go near the showers, they have those at home! But, it’s all about to change again though as soccer is going to wipe out our weekend swim slot… dreading having to go back to taking the two wee ones after school…! At least I can just drop the 9yo at the door for swim team practice :) #thetruthabout

  12. Sam

    very funny Maddy :-) I absolutely hate taking the kids swimming and always leave the task to my husband and I only have two! It’s the getting out that’s the worst part because 3 year old just never wants to leave! Should be interesting when they can both have lessons together :-) Thanks for linking up to #thetruthabout X


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