I'm writing this sat on a bench overlooking to pools in the local swimming baths keeping an eye on each. To the left of me Bog Boy is sitting expectantly on the tiled bench like windowsill in front of the gigantic picture windows overlooking the car park. He's intently watching the children in the class before him bobbing up and down in the water doing "Ring-a-ring-o-rosies". It looks like he's using all his will power not to jump in with them. He knows he has to wait his turn. I can see he's quivering with anticipation.
To the right of me, my eldest, The Boy, lounges against the wall, arms and legs crossed. Totally unfazed by the steamy atmosphere, seemingly unaware of the cacophony that billows and buffets around him.
One session ends and with a squeal of joy Bog Boy is in the pool, doing big jumps across it. "Look at me! Look at me Mumma!" he grins at me and then jumps faster to catch up: "Boing! Boing! Boing!"
The Boy on the other hand gracefully slides into the pool and that's where it ends. All that loose-limbed gracefulness fades and well let's say he's the opposite of a swan. On land he's beautiful, streamlined (for a boy of 6) and dreamy - in the water well, it's just painful.
He pushes off from the wall and all seems fine for about a metre and then there is a frantic flailing of arms, and I presume legs, and I watch him slowly start to sink. It is agonising. His shoulders disappear beneath the water then his head until all that is left is his face screwed up with concentration as he desperately tries not to touch the floor with his feet; he sinks beneath the water, then briefly remerges before sinking down again, then up and spluttering as his teacher’s voice like a fog horn utters: “Oh No! You’ve put your feet down AGAIN!”
To be honest, I am quite glad, as for a minute there I really thought he would drown and was about to draw the attention of the gaggle of teenage life guards standing in a group chatting to each other over in the far corner.
Panic over, I glance over at the other pool to watch Bog Boy’s progress. I’m afraid to say Bog Boy is the loudest in his class. He does a running commentary and with blithe disregard chatters to all and sundry especially his brother:
Bog boy: Boy! Boy! Look at me! Over 'ere Boy! Look!
The Boy looks over and grins giving Bog Boy a thumbs up sign before being brought to brook by his swimming teacher and told to concentrate.
Bog Boy’s swim teacher knows not to bother doing that to him for he’ll just ignore it and do what he wants. As if on cue he calls to me.
Bog Boy: Mummy Mum, Mummy MUUUMMMEEE!
Me (trying to act as if chatting to a 3 year old across a 15m distance is a normal thing to do): Yes darling?
Bog Boy, as he gets out of the pool in the middle of being asked to do something: Mumma?
Me, smiling apologetically at his teacher: “Yes love?” Expecting him to say that he needs to go to the loo and very aware of everyone else listening in.
Bog Boy: “Can I have some crisps?”
Me: slightly non plussed: “What Now?”
Me: When your lesson’s over love.
I am acutely aware that I have gone a deep shade of red and I can hear people trying not to laugh. I watch Bog Boy rejoin his class supremely unaware of the embarrassment he has caused and I turn to watch my eldest in an effort to compose myself.
His teacher is making him swim without support again – a whole width!
He’s starting off well, good strong push from the wall that gives him 1m.
Now kick those legs.
Keep those arms moving.
Doesn’t matter about the water in your eye, just shut them!
Try to keep going forwards.
Legs! Boy legs! Keep kicking.
Over half way now. I know your sinking but really you’re almost there!
Come on Boy! Come on!
Kick! Kick, kick, kick.
Keep going! Keep going!
Go on MY BOY!
The Boy has swum 5m all on his own – OK, not stylishly and to be honest I thought he was drowning most of the time, but he went from side-to-side without putting his feet down!!!!!
I suddenly realise that everything has gone quiet, I clap my hand to my mouth and I flush again. In my excitement I have leapt out of my seat and punched the air obviously yelling at the top of my voice in excitement.
The deafening silence is broken by a cherubic little voice:
Bog Boy: Are we going home now?