Tuesday, July 14, 2009
'Daddy is lying again,' she must have said
Last summer, the girls took their first professional swimming lessons. They LOVED swimming lessons.
This spring, my folks gave them all the birthday gift of another round of lessons, complete with leads printed from the Net on where they could take them. I've been planning on setting it up since school got out in early June.
But first I had to clean out the closet (which was at one time an office) where the printouts had buried themselves since being gifted. That occupied the first four days.
Once found, I set them out to call the next day. They sat out not quite long enough for me to call, but long enough for six small hands to disappear them into the rubble.
The next next day, I extracted my leads from among the piles of sorted stuff I'd removed from my blindingly sparkly clean closet (which has renewed its ancient claim to officedom), and from the piles of spent drawing paper to which my little swimmers had helped themselves.
That done, I found myself on Friday, July 3, when USA celebrated the foreshock of its 233rd birthday, and no one was in business.
No worries. Sunday night, I planned for them to start Monday after work. I built it up, had Mommy send the bathing suits with them to childcare, mentioned it at random times just to get a huge "Yay!!" out of them.
I called from work the next day and got the dirt on the lessons. I had the date wrong.
Darn. They'd have to start the next week. This would not go over well.
When I picked them up, the news was greeted with cries and screams, barely mitigated by my consolation offer to take them to the creek to swim on our own. I explained that I'd messed up on the date and that it was too late to start lessons this week. I was sorry, but we'd do it next week (i.e. "a million years from now").
Another week of planning and hoping--the girls anticipating the highlight of their summer education, me exploiting their anticipation to gain compliance and mood lifts when needed.
Yesterday was the big day. I had the times, I knew this was the session start date, and I'd get them there at 2 o'clock--opening time--so I could sign them up for the best time slot.
It's just that they were having so much fun that morning pretending to be pets inside those Tupperware storage bins. And I was having so much fun figuring out online if I could save money by cutting my home phone line. It was 2 now, past lunch time and they were asking for Rice Krispies in bowls just like pets eat their food.
That would be fast.
But somehow it was not fast, and when we got down the mountain to the pool at 4:29, the swim class coordinator tried to be nice as she explained that we had a snowflake's chance in a hot place of snagging a spot in the 4:30 class, the last of the day.
At 4:40, the girls were still in the bathroom helping each other put on their bathing suits. Normally I'd be itching for them to finish the job and get the hot-place out here to start the lesson. But yesterday, I considered letting them play at changing for half an hour (an easy amount of time to kill with such a task) and then telling them they were so slow they'd missed the lesson.
But I didn't.
Instead, I muffled the self-loathing tantrum that was going on in my head, told them the truth, and apologized. Again.
"We'll start tomorrow, girlies." They didn't even cry this time. And that was worse, because it gave me mental space to imagine what they must have been saying:
Daddy is lying again.
Another plan thwarted. Another promise broken. Another hope dashed. Another doubt planted.
They stood there, sweet and stoic, as I signed the paperwork and forked over the cash for lessons that really, truly would start tomorrow (i.e. "sometime slightly sooner than a million years from now, but at 5 p.m., still way too far away from today"). I knew it was for real this time. But the doubt in the air squeezed my throat tight.
I compensated with the increasingly lame creek idea, throwing in an ice cream cone this time. No protests. No complaints.
But no delight either.
Today, I had an afternoon meeting. My wife took them to swim lessons. She drove 40 minutes from work up the mountain where a friend was watching them, hussled them into the car and down the mountain, out of the car, across the parking lot and into the bathroom to change. They were in the pool for their 3:30 lesson at 3:31.
When I saw them afterward, they were bubbling with stories about what they'd done in class.
"Daddy, I floated on my back--withOUT any help!"
"Daddy, I jumped in by myself!"
"Daddy, I put my head under the water!"
After celebrating with them for a few minutes, Ashlyn added another boast. "And Daddy, we made it on TIME to swimming lessons today!"
"That's awesome, Ashlyn." Finally, someone had gotten these sweet little fish to the pond. Go Mommy.
"Um, Daddy, I have an idea." Ashlyn was bright-eyed. "After today, Mommy should drive us to swimming lessons."