Julia

Wishing for a Tsunami at the Pool

The kids had swim class tonight.  We got there earlier than usual, so we tied the styrofoam "bubbles" around the kids’ middles and sat in the little stand of benches to watch the other classes.  There were some more advanced classes going on at the far end of the pool – the diving end.  We watched those kids do cannonballs and practice dives, and we watched other kids and their parents arriving.

It’s hot in the pool room.  Hot and humid.  Bill and I dress for summer on swim nights just so we don’t pass out.

We were sitting in the front row of the benches, close to the shallow end of the pool.  There was a beginner class in front of us, about 5 kids with varying levels of comfort in the water, and their teacher, a slightly heavyset girl in a one-piece swimsuit.  I hadn’t seen here there before.  She was encouraging the kids to follow her back and forth across the shallow end…"Come on, fishy-fishies!"  And they’d paddle along behind her, then suddenly she’d turn around and holler "Shark attack!" and pretend to chase them back the way they’d come.  Lots of squealing and laughter.  It looked like a fun way to learn to swim.

At last the lifeguard on duty blew her whistle and that half hour session was over.  Kids climbed out of every side of the pool, parents met them with towels, and the kids waiting for the next session hung around until their teachers called them by name.

The girl teaching the class in front of us stayed in the water and leaned forward onto the edge of the pool and called out "Rays and Starfish!  Any Rays or Starfish?"  She waited there, looking around expectantly, and finally one little boy and his mom came over to her.  She explained that the other teacher for that group was out sick and she was the sub.  The mother nodded and the little boy headed off to the end of the pool to wait for the sub and the rest of his class.  The sub stayed where she was to keep an eye out for other Rays.  Or Starfish.

And while the girl was standing there in the water, leaning forward slightly, in our direction, Julia, who was sitting on my lap, pointed to the sub and said cheerfully – and loudly, of course –

"Mommy!  She has a big chest!" 

Unfortunately, there was no earthquake right then, so all I could do was look at the sub with an apologetic, embarrassed look on my face and clap my hand over Julia’s mouth.  Fortunately for me, this girl wasn’t upset – she shrugged and smiled and said "I do."  I smiled gratefully at her and then was glad to have a reason to look away when Alex and Julia’s teacher started calling their names. 

Bill, meanwhile, looked everywhere but at the girl in the pool or at me until she had headed over to the class she was covering.  I looked at Bill.  His smile was fixed and if I hadn’t known better I’d have thought he had just lost control of a bodily function or two.  He sort of murmered "what did she say?" at me and I told him and he nodded – just as he’d thought.  And ignored.  "I just kept talking to Alex," he told me.  "I was so glad Julia was sitting on your lap."

I told him I was just glad she got the terminology right.  She used to say "nest." 

I was also glad the sub was teaching her class at the deep end of the pool.  Way too far away for any accidentaly eye contact.  When class ended, we fled.

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