I'm about to make a shocking confession.
It's been three years since my eight year old took swim lessons. My six year old and four year old have never taken them.
Now it's not that I don't value swimming skills. Far from it. It just seems like every year something happens to foil my ability to get my kids on a list ~ anybody's list ~ for lessons.
I've tried. I really have.
One year it was a new baby. Another year it was a move. Last year, I simply let the time get away from me. Never thought about anything related to water activities until the pools opened Memorial Day weekend and by then it was too late. I was laughed at when I called several area pools the day following Memorial Day to inquire about swim lessons.
"Our list filled up in March," one snooty lady told me.
Excuse me, I wanted to say. I was not thinking about swimming when it was still snowing every other week.
Note to Self: START thinking about swimming EVERY single time you see a snowflake fall from the sky.
My original plan was to enroll the little people at The Swim Ranch here in town. It's run by a former Olympian and University of Arkansas swim coach, and everybody I've talked to swears they could teach a boulder the backstroke.
At their prices, I would certainly hope so. It's $90 a kid for one week of lessons. Let's see ... for three children, that's $270 buckaroos for, did I mention, ONE WEEK of lessons.
For that amount of money, I'd expect all three to have a guaranteed spot on the swim team.
Needless to say, it didn't break my heart when my buddy Laura called a couple of months back around 7:30 a.m. on a dreary March morning to say that she was in line for Swim Ranch signups and ... take note of this ... she was number 168 in line. The Swim Ranch people apparently pride themselves on taking as much time with each family as they possibly can (to discuss what, I can only imagine ... politics? religion? the high price of swim lessons??) and so it was about 6:30 p.m. (yes, that's 11 hours later) before her registration was complete and she had shelled over hundreds of dollars to the Swim Ranch for her kiddos.
It would have been hard enough to part with that much money, but parting with that many hours was out of the question. Not for swim lessons, for the love of Pete.
So I began investigating other options and found a pool in a neighboring town that offers 8 days of Red Cross lessons for $40. Significantly better. The only problem was that sign ups began at 7:30 a.m. this morning. I had kids to get to school in our town, so I begged my mother-in-law (who lives just a few miles from the pool) to go hold a spot in line for me until I could make it to the registration place.
My phone rang at 7:15 this morning. She was at the registration building and was told that all our forms needed to be completed before we could even get a number and stand in line. Okay. I began rattling off dates of birth (these are her grandchildren ... shouldn't she know this stuff already??) and emergency contact information while simultaneously driving my 8-year-old daughter to school. She was safely deposited into the care of the sweet cafeteria ladies at 7:20, and off to the pool we headed.
All the while spitting out dates and phone numbers to my MIL who was frantically writing it all down on the other end. I was also registering a friend of my older daughter's, and when it came time to sign the forms, MIL asked, "What name should I sign?"
"Her mother's name I replied," and began to spell it for her.
Long pause on the other end.
"But that's (pause here for dramatic effect) FORGERY (gasp!)"
"So?" I replied. "This is not a tax return." (At this point, my own mother would have told me to stop being a sassy pants, but this is my mother in law, and she would never say such a thing to me. Ever.)
Another long pause.
"Well," she began in her authoratative way, "if you sign another child's consent forms, then if something happens to her, you are liable."
I was tempted to ask her what law school she graduated from, but I decided I'd probably already crossed one too many lines considering how good she'd been to haul herself out of the house that early in the morning on account of my children's swim lessons.
"Umm, but we're not signing MY name ... we're signing her MOTHER'S name ... and if they have a problem with my forging her mother's signature, they are free to call her mother when I get there to verify that I am not breaking any laws."
"Well, okay, if you're sure."
"What I'm really sure of is that I'd better not show up at school later today with my own children registered for lessons and X (the friend) not. That would be bad."
Within another 10 minutes I'd arrived at the youth center, and MIL met me out front with completed paperwork in hand. She handed me our assigned number (#14), directed me to the proper room and took my younger two off for a morning of fun. Left alone in this room full of moms and a few dads, I began glancing over the papers. I was mystified over a "field trip consent form" that had been stapled to the back of each registration form.
And then I noticed the heading on the top of the front page: "2008 Day Camp Registation".
Oh no, surely not.
I caught the eye of a nearby mom, and tried very casually to ask why the registation forms said Day Camp on them.
She couldn't hear me, so I had to ask again, louder this time, catching the attention of half of the people in the room.
"Why does the registration form say 'Day Camp' on it?"
She and every other person within earshot looked at me like I had broccoli growing out my ears.
"Because THIS IS day camp registration," someone finally answered.
"Oh," I said. I should have stopped there, but I had to confirm before I gave up my place in line. "So where are swim lesson signups?"
"Down the hall in the room marked 'Swim Lesson Sign-Ups."
I was growing redder by the moment.
Ninety minutes (and better directions) later, all four kids were registered. I was $120 poorer, and not too happy about all the wasted time, but it was over. And it didn't take 11 hours.