I go to work on Tuesdays. I get home about 5.45, give or take a few minutes. Sometimes I finish work at 4.45, sometimes I finish at 5.15. It takes me 45 minutes to get home. At 8pm on a Tuesday I go to my dance class. SO WHY ON EARTH DID I BOOK MY SONS’ SWIMMING LESSONS FOR 6.30 ON A TUESDAY?!
To get to a 6.30 swimming lesson, we will need to leave the house at 6.10. We will get home just before 7.30. I will need to set off for dance at about 7.50. When will I eat?! Will I eat at work? Can I fit a microwave meal in between work and swimming? Will my mum take pity and make me something?
If all goes well, I can expect the boys to be in this class for two terms of 12 weeks. That’s basically six months. By the time they’ve passed this level we will have reached the longest day of the year, my eldest son will have turned 11 and done his SATs. And I will be at the very end of my tether. Guaranteed.
So why have I put myself under this ridiculous unnecessary pressure? Because I’m a good mum. Because, as ever, I have put my children’s needs before my own.
My boys, particularly my eldest, are not natural swimmers. Swimming lessons have been a long, hard slog for many, many years. My eldest started swimming lessons when he was 4 1/2. He’s now 10 1/2 and can swim 100 metres – just. His strokes are pretty bad.
My husband thinks we should give up, but I don’t agree. I want them to be able to swim well enough to stand a chance if they have an accident and to be able to enjoy themselves when they go swimming with friends. That’s not going to happen if they need to grab onto the side every two minutes. So we keep plugging away.
Over the last 18 months, the standard of the boys’ swimming has gone down. To such an extent that, last term, my daughter was just one level below them – level 4 to their level 5. She is half her eldest brother’s age. She can’t swim 100 metres, but her technique is beautiful. It is so perfect it brings tears to my eyes.
My boys’ problems are largely due to the standard of teaching they have been subjected to recently. One teacher didn’t learn their names in two terms of teaching them. He never corrected their technique and I sat watching them get worse and worse every week as they floundered up and down the pool. So I moved them. To a different day and a different teacher. She was slightly better. Slightly. She knew their names. They got a little bit better, but after another two terms were nowhere near the standard they’d been at before they moved up to that level.
So I moved them again. FINALLY our favourite teacher (who has taught my daughter for the best part of three years, hence the beautiful strokes) was teaching at that level. And finally they started to improve. But it took a further two terms to straighten out a year of bad teaching.
So when I looked at the timetable for level 6 and the coming term, I knew I had to avoid the bad teachers. My favourite teacher isn’t teaching this level, but another teacher I feel confident about is teaching at 6.30 on Tuesday.
So I have no choice. Six months of hellish Tuesdays because only the best will do for my boys.