“I won’t be in the second,” NG calls.
“What?” shouts back NW from the car.
“She means she’ll just be a second,” I say, bundling the bag that is bigger than the one I took travelling for 3 months into the back. “She’s talking to gravity. Come on Beanie, we have to go now.”
We are taking the baby, NC, swimming for the first time. He is starting a month later than NG but neither seem to mind. I am not a huge fan of swimming. NW has always been the one who ‘does’ it with our daughter, (unlike Kate Middleton who DROVE HERSELF and took Prince George swimming at granny’s when she was 38 weeks’ pregnant). The only reason we are all going today is for practical (breastfeeding) reasons: the arse of it is that I can’t express enough this time around for a bottle. So here we all are, Saturday morning, off to swimming.
NG walks carefully down the path. “Gravity? Um gravity?”
“Yes?” I reply.
“You are pulling me, gravity, but when I do go swimming, gravity, you, um, um, you, um, you WILL NOT pull me, gravity.”
My husband looks at me puzzled.
“In the playground this morning, she asked me if the ground wanted her to stop swinging and I told her it was gravity.” I buckle my daughter up and off we go.
“Yes, I will try, actually,” I say (being gravity) “but you will kick and kick and use your woggle and I will not pull you down, down under the water to the bottom of the pool.”
“Jesus,” says NW.
NG is a bit quiet. “Mummy?”
“Can I have some chocolate please?”
“Well done for saying please, but no.”
“I said no. I wonder how many other babies will be at swimming today. How many do you think?”
“One. Two. Three. Four … oh, no, no, no. My friends at swimming are not babies,” says NG. “They are Milo and Seb and Amy and Poppy and …”
“Yes,” I say, “but you’re not going swimming today. You are going to watch your little brother with me. We will stay at the side of the pool, sitting down.”
NG toys with her seatbelt. “Um. Gravity?”
“Yes?” (Me again).
“We are going to sit down, gravity, by the side of the pool. So you CAN’T pull my legs, gravity, ‘cos I will be sitting down already.”
NW sighs. “Gravity will make you sit down,” he says.
“No. Mummy will make me sit down,” says NG. “And, um, gravity?”
“Mummy will not give me some chocolate gravity. But you can pull it gravity and you can get it.”
“Right, everyone. Let’s sing the Puddleducks song, shall we?” It works.
NG and I take our places at the side of the pool. NW proudly carries his son to the steps and lies him on the ‘launch towel’. Mark Zuckerberg has just told the world about his two month old’s first swim. This will be a breeze.
Unfortunately, NW creates a small tsunami as he gets in and thus, when the instructor passes NC carefully to NW, NC loses it and screams his little heart out as though the pool water were nitric acid.
“Oh dear,” says NG sadly. “I don’t think he likes swimming.”
The other babies lie like beached fish on floats. NC bucks and NW throws me a tired look.
“Yes?” I say, giving NW a supportive thumbs-up.
“Can I go in, please?”
“But I want to.”
“I know, darling, but it’s not your day today. And you’ve got your clothes on. And no swimming costume.”
NG surveys the vast expanse of blue that, up until now, she has owned. “But. I WANT to Mummy.” She wriggles one arm up and out of her neckhole and takes a couple of steps towards the edge.
“NO,” I say firmly. “Gravity, can you help me please?”
I scoop NG up and we exit the pool, NC’s screams echoing through my brain as the door sucks shut.
“Mummy?” NG says calmly, once I put her down in the changing room.
“Can I have some chocolate please?”
“Yes, ok. A tiny bit. But it is the chocolate I need to make baby milk so please don’t eat too much.”
NG has a little think. “Gravity?”
I hesitate. “Yes?”
“You can’t have this chocolate, gravity.”
“‘Cos Mummy does need this chocolate to make baby milk.”
“But when Mummy gives my baby brother baby milk she does use two hands, gravity, so you can have the chocolate then, gravity, ‘cos you will have it ‘cos it will fall on the floor, gravity.”
I wobble a bit. “Um, yes …”
“And then I will help you pick it up, gravity.” NG looks content.
“OK, everyone?” says NW, blowing through the door holding a writhing NC. “Pol, I think some baby milk would be good at this point.”
NG looks at me. “Mummy. Gravity will look after your chocolate for you, ‘member?”
“Yes,” I sigh, putting it on the floor.
KEY TO CHARACTERS
Characters are abbreviated as follows:
NW – not William (husband and father)
NG – not George (daughter, sister and two and a half year old)
NC – not Charlotte (son, brother and four month old)
NL – not Lupo (a Labrador)