I’m not bad at complaining. After decades of saying nothing, regretting saying nothing, saying it all to my husband when I get home, I am finally complaining at the right time to the right person.
For example, last week I noticed my two younger sons being moved to the beginners group at swimming lessons. I sat for a minute (beside a dad reading a kindle, which I found myself hoping would get splashed) and then got up to ask the teacher why they had been moved. He said that there was an instructor missing and he would give them different exercises to do. Then I pointed out that the next class up had one boy in it. Why not put them there instead of with eight little splashers? Anyway, in the heel of the hunt he gave my boys training, swimmish things to do and the rest of the group fun, gamey things to do. They threw daggers at me from the water hissing “what did you say to him?” until the third teacher eventually turned up.
My problem was that after I had said my piece I didn’t know how to finish up the conversation. What came most natural was to walk off in a huff but obviously I couldn’t do that. So I said “thank you” in a prim way. That too seemed pathetic. Then I had to arrange my face as I walked back to the bench where the other parents were sitting. Torn between keeping my head down and concentrating on not tripping and keeping my head up in a haughty don’t-mess-with-me manner, I ended up going for something in between. So I either came across as a mother who is reasonable, firm, no nonsense and nice or a complete oddball.
Usually once the kids are settled in their lessons I have a swim myself. There are three lanes sectioned off so I can do lengths and still keep an eye out to be on call if anyone needs to go to the toilet. This means wearing my navy Speedos, the least flattering item of clothing EVER. But the feel good factor I get from the swim is worth it.
So there I was, Mrs Smug, arguing my case, swimming my lengths. As I climbed out of the pool the instructor came over to me. Dear God, I thought, I’m going to have to talk to him in my togs. I will allow myself be seen in Speedos. I have to, not owning a pool. But usually it’s only a quick run between the shower and the water. The idea is that I move fast enough to be a blur.
I don’t think he realised how much of an upper hand he had. That I would have agreed for the kids to be put in armbands in a toddler group if only I could get quickly past him and back to the changing rooms and privacy. He just wanted to let me know that he had them in the right class, I think. It was hard to take in the words when the only thing that came into my head was “bikini wax!” which thankfully, I didn’t say out loud. At least I don’t think I did.