We made a deal.
The deal was that any day Rich wasn't substitute teaching we would pick one activity to do as a family. It could be skating at the LMCA (that's what we locals call the Lorne Mountain Community Centre), visiting the Wildlife Preserve, taking a road trip or snowshoeing. Well, today it was -27C so we decided against all those and opted instead for a family swim at the Canada Games Centre.
Here's the thing. I'm one of those people who feel out of place in a lot of situations. I've made my peace with it. I feel most comfortable when I'm camping at McCrae lake back in Ontario or hiking the Bruce trail, but take me out of my comfort zone and it's a different story.
One of the areas I feel most like a fish out of water, ironically, is in the water, specifically the water contained in a community swimming pool.
I still remember my dreaded swimming classes in school. Eye glasses were not allowed and voices echoed and bounced off the walls in the tiny pool room. This meant I was essentially blind and deaf and the majority of time I had no idea what was going on.
It hasn't improved much now that I'm older and supposedly wiser.
There's the whole secret and varied system for getting in the pool. My first time at the Wasaga Rec Plex I stood outside the change room doors for 15 minutes once until someone used a key card to open it. Then there's the little things I never seem to know, like you need 50 cents to get a locker. And then there is the litany of rules everyone else knows but me until someone tells me off or I read it on the wall after it's too late. You get the idea.
The Canada Games Centre in Whitehorse is a huge imposing building with three ice rinks, several pools, a fieldhouse, a flexihall, and two restaurants among other features. The first time I went in to check it out, I grabbed a brochure and went straight out again. Here's what happened this time...
I walk in the change room area with Rich and Oscar. I've got my peeps with me this time. I now know to bring a towel because of a previous experience. And I have bags for the wet swimsuits (also learned from a previous experience.) Rich goes into the men's change room. I stand there with Oscar and stare at my two options, the women's change room or the family change room. I open the door to the women's, I see a bum, I close the door. I wish I was more evolved, I'm just not there yet.
I try the family door. Several waiting mothers heads swivel towards me, eyes shooting daggers. "Wait your turn," I imagine the eye daggers say. Ten minutes of the one hour family swim time tick by slowly. A bead of sweat rolls down my neck and I peel off our winter jackets and hold them awkwardly.
I see Rich in the pool looking for us. I catch his eye and shrug. He smiles and says, "Just change Oscar in the hall, then he can come in the pool at least."
I love Rich. He is the opposite of me in so many ways. He is not daunted by the huge Canada Games Centre in the slightest. It could be because he's spent a lot of time in pools as a swimmer and a coach or maybe because of his glorious disregard for the rules, he looks totally comfortable.
I change Oscar in the hall so he can join his already wrinkling father. One mother looks at me sympathetically. "You can change in here," she says, pointing to the bathroom her son has vacated. I do the quickest change ever, I'm talking Clark Kent in a phone booth quick, and scoot out into the pool, worrying that I'm breaking a rule.
Just as I'm wondering if this is all really worth it, I see Oscar's ecstatic face. He's found a ball with lightning McQueen on it and he's playing catch with Richard, laughing with delight. As we play, my worries begin to fade. As we are carried around the lazy river, one of the most fun pool features ever, I'm hard pressed to remember what my worries are. Now Oscar is floating around by himself in his water wings and braving the water slide and I'm having a great time. Instead of the anticipated scolding for some unknown rule, the lifeguard laughs at Oscar's shenanigans and turns on the big water slide for us to try.
After a hot shower and a nice sandwich for lunch we let Ozzie loose in the children's play room. He makes a new friend and a fort, does a few Lightning McQueen impersonations and climbs everything climbable.
It was a good day. Once again the combination of family support, and our new home have helped me grow.