The Swims We Do For Love – By Jennifer Allen

I really want my kids to be able to swim, not necessarily to any Olympic standard, but just to feel comfortable in a swimming pool and not sink. So they have had a few courses of lessons and occasionally, on a dark winter Sunday afternoon with nothing better to do, we decide to take the them to the pool.

We approach the front desk. “Four for swimming please!” beams my husband, who has always liked swimming more than I do. The children scramble  into their swimsuits in a froth of excitement, and in we jump. “Watch me!” they shriek a hundred times, swimming from Mum to Dad and back to Mum, daring to go (shriek) “right under!” Goggles and wet hair get crazy and tangled, they leap about like seal pups, diving down and up again for air, laughing and jumping with skinny white arms and legs sticking out in all directions.

I slap on a smile and try to look like I’m enjoying myself … because family time should be a happy time, right? I try to keep moving but I am always cold. I feel exposed, brushing up against other nearly-naked parents who are trying just as hard not to scowl, the screams bounce off the walls and boredom pinches me with its cold mean fingers as I ache to be home drinking hot tea and reading the Sunday paper.

Eventually we get out, dry off and go home and I can sit down for half an hour before tea. After swimming the kids are happy and they sleep well that night, so I am always glad we did it in the end.