Monday, January 18, 2010

Disaster, Averted

Now that we've been fully immersed in winter for a couple of months, I've been back at the gym on a fairly regular basis, too. Even though it's been warmer the last few days, the sidewalks are all packed-down snow and ice; nothing I'd want to run on. So I run in the street when I can go without a biker and a jogging stroller accompanying me, and I work out at the gym when I have the girls with me. I'm not crazy about the morning madness in the kid's area there, plus Annie's always at school then, so we often go in the afternoons, when it's nice to kill that pre-dinner grumpy time with some activity.

So even though we hardly set foot there apart from the outdoor pool all summer, it's been part of our routine since November, though the first few times, Jemma took some convincing. "Will there be a bird there?" she'd ask fearfully, somehow remembering the single time, over a year ago, that the gym hosted a member's appreciation day, complete with free bottled water, chiropractic adjustments, chair massage, and (strangely) the Grand Rapids Griffins mascot. That day, I watched from my treadmill overlooking the kid's play area as she FLIPPED OUT when he approached to give her five. In November, Annie and I reassured her that, no, there would not be a bird there, EVER EVER AGAIN. It took a week or so before she believed us.

This afternoon, I took the girls to the pool after quiet time. There we were, having fun swimming about, when I looked out the window to the hallway and saw the mascot approach. I immediately grabbed Jemma and put her arms around my neck as I backed away from the window. Annie noticed the bird, too, and whispered urgently, "Mom! The bird!" while I shot her a look that said something like, "I know! Don't speak of it! Don't look at it! Will it to go away as soon as possible!"

I held Jemma's face two inches from mine and asked her all sorts of questions: "What's your middle name? What did you and Marta play this weekend? Show me how you kick so hard! What was the letter of the day today on Sesame Street? What letter does Annie start with?" - anything to keep her eyes focused on me instead of turning around, where the damn mascot was still at the window, waving wildly at the kids in the pool and showing no signs of leaving. He finally did, and Annie and I gave each other wide-eyed looks. Eventually, Annie took her floaty off and swam all about the pool, even diving down to the bottom for things, so we stayed for another half hour while she gloried in her newfound swimming bravery.

We did our usual snuggle in the sauna before getting dressed, and the girls were both helpful and efficient and independent and adorable. Jemma offered to hold the bag with our wet suits, Annie closed all our lockers and put the towels away, and as we walked out of the locker room, I was not thinking about the bird at all but instead about how taking them both swimming is actually fun and easy this winter, especially compared with last year, especially compared with the year before.

And then we rounded the corner and There He Was. Again. I scooped Jemma up and held her tight, smashing her face into the crook of my neck a little by pushing on her big, puffy hood. I shushed Annie, who went ahead of me with a very solemn face, and thanked goodness that Jemma is a snuggler, a cuddler who thinks nothing of a random hug from Mom on her way out of the gym.

A gym employee passing out bottled water caught my eye as we walked out the door and gave me an understanding look. Jemma's face still firmly in my shoulder, I shook my head sadly, said, "Been through that before," and grabbed a bottle of water. Member appreciation day. Good grief.

1 comment:

  1. Oh my god. That is absurd....sooo absurd...dying right now about this!!! Thank the lord you averted!!! Go Annie! Go you! Go hugging Jemma!