The Mom believes that some rules just don’t apply to her. Namely, pool opening times. Or to be more precise: times when she is able to swim laps.
She takes a creeper approach to matters. If early morning swim begins, officially, at 7.45 a.m. (I’m not sure it actually does start then because when I go, I’m so bleary that I just follow her around like a duckling, shuffling behind her until I hit the water whereupon my body does what it’s been trained to do since I was six years old: it swims.) Then she’s there, ready to go by 7.38 a.m. and no later.
The Mom, as is right and proper, wants to squeeze every possible second out of her time in the pool – time that is quiet and without children who appear incapable of listening to shouts of ‘stay on that side of the black line!’ . However, the problem is that the lifeguards at the pool have either been improperly trained, or properly trained, depending on your perspective.
I was briefed as to this lack of correct training on the first morning I shuffled over with her.
“Now,” she said in hushed tones, as though we were discussing burglary or some untoward piece of gossip about the neighbours. “The new guards,” she sneered ever so slightly saying the word ‘new’. “They don’t let me get in when they’re taking off the blanket.”
Being as it was early, I simply grunted.
“And frankly, I don’t see why they won’t let me start swimming. I mean, I’m not that fast. I probably won’t make it to the end of the pool before the blanket comes off.”
Grunt from me and a stumble over some imaginary thing.
“Careful!” The Mom cried, grabbing my arm as though her meagre 90-pound frame could keep me from falling down.
Another grunt, Chewbacca-like from me.
“They’ll make me wait on the deck until it’s time.”
Less of a grunt from me.
“And sometimes,” she said, clutching at my arm. “Sometimes, they forget to even open this gate, and only open the other one!”
A slightly surprised and shocked grunt from me.
“Did you hear me? I know you’re a bit deaf but I said they don’t always open the right gate!”
A grunt sufficient to communicate anger emerges from me.
“Why, just last week I saw that couple, you know the ones, not Annoying Lady with the Backstroke, the couple.”
She turned to me to see if I was listening. I nodded and flapped my hands forward, shuffling her along as she’d stopped in the middle of the road.
“They were in there before me!”
Her outrage was total and all-consuming.
“Assholes,” I muttered.
“Exactly,” she replied, satisfied that her rage had been sufficiently validated.
Now, lest you think The Mom a total nutter, let me explain. The guards from the previous years have always let the rules slide ever-so-slightly with her. They’d let her get in and swim around the blanket, or over the vacuum, or if they had other things to do, they’d leave her in the pool and carry on with their chores. Though I mock her technique, The Mom is in fact rather a decent swimmer. She knows her limits and stays near the edge – out of preference, not in case she might need to grab hold of something sturdier than the ducks she can frequently be seen swimming alongside. The guards trusted her to conduct herself properly, and so she did.
These guards this year, however, seem intent on running a tight ship. Which means that The Mom doesn’t get quite as much time in for her early morning swim as she’d like. It’s the difference of maybe four lengths to her, but it’s the principle of the thing that irks her. She reckons that, as a loyal and dedicated swimmer, one who will go in all weathers, and can be counted on to open and close the pool each season, she should be afforded some luxuries.
She has also mentioned that these guards are prone to closing the pool when the weather looks not great as opposed to when it looks positively destructive. I was nearly at the receiving end of this over-zealous caution when it had been rainy and thundering all morning. But just before lunch it had cleared. I looked anxiously over to the pool, wondering if they’d open it as it was closed for the morning lessons. I’m not so keen on the morning swim, but I MUST have a swim every possible day when I’m home.
The Mom tutted and said, “They probably won’t open.”
So I did what we do in these crazy times, and I took to social media, writing on the pool’s Facebook page how much I was looking forward to my afternoon swim now that it had stopped thundering and the sun had come out and it was so very, very hot.
And lo. Come 1pm, the pool was open.