The Casual Father: Swimming trip leads to paranoia

Casual Father

Casual Father - Credit: Archant

Before I met the wife, I could shower, get changed, and be taking the froth off a pint at the local pub in the space of around 15 minutes.

When it was her and I, minus Elizabeth, the whole process would take the best part of an hour, on a good day.

What with hair and make up, umpteen costume changes, and the obligatory “Does my bum look big in this?” question.

If there are any young men reading this, the response I find most effective to that query is: “Don’t be so ridiculous,” while all the time keeping a straight face.

You crack even the slightest hint of a smile, and it’s game over lads.

But with Elizabeth now in tow, leaving the house doesn’t just take longer, it is truly an ordeal.

Just being able to shut the front door, providing you haven’t forgotten anything, delivers a sense of accomplishment.

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Packing up bottles, nappies, extra clothes and getting the buggy into the boot of the car is far more tiresome than lying to your wife to hurry her up ever could be.

In fact, in some instances, it has taken so long that either we can’t remember what we were going out for in the first place, or we no longer want to.

But after a momentous effort this weekend, we did, eventually, make it out to our local swimming pool.

The difficulties did not end there, however.

With the miserable Saturday weather bringing out the crowds, all the large family change facilities were full.

The wife quickly ushered me into a one-person cubicle, and we spent an uncomfortable five minutes trying not to elbow each other, or Elizabeth, as we put our bathing suits on.

Entering the water, which at 31.4 degrees Celsius seems a little colder than I remember, we are greeted by a sea of enthusiastic children.

After a short while, and with Elizabeth seemingly enjoying the experience, I begin to look around and realise the kind of danger I’m in.

There are a lot of kids in the pool, and my guess is that a high percentage of them are not yet toilet trained. I start eyeing them suspiciously one by one.

I glance past those at around Elizabeth’s age, because I know they should have extra protection.

But some of the two to three-year-olds are causing me concern, particularly an excitable boy, who looks ready to turn the water yellow every time he chucks a ball to his mum.

Paranoia kicks in and soon every child in the medium-sized training pool appears to be concentrating.

With the thought of coming face-to-face with something even worse beginning to weigh heavily on my mind, I tell the wife what is bothering me.

She chuckles to herself. “We’d better get her out soon,” she says, nodding towards Elizabeth, “I forgot to put the water-proof nappy on.”