Today was J.’s very first day of swimming lessons. He’d been protesting about going for two weeks, and we were all a little worried about what his reaction would be. On the way over, I gave him a mini-lecture along the lines of: “You will listen to your teacher, you will do what she says – even if you don’t want to, you will not act up even if the other kids are acting up, there will be NO WHINING. These are the rules. If you don’t follow the rules, you are going to get the world’s biggest time out. Do you understand?”
“Yes. Auntie, sometimes babies whine.”
“Yep, J. sometimes babies do, but they’re not big boys who get to go to swimming lessons, right?”
We rolled into the pool parking lot five minutes prior to the start of class. J. had to change into his suit so I sent him off to the Men’s locker room, and got him ready to go. He changed quickly, handed me his street clothes, his towel, and his sandals (in an unruly pile) and ran off to meet his instructor – no crying, no wussiness, nothing. I felt happy, but also kind of let down – I clearly wasn’t needed here. I walked over to the white plastic picnic table where all the other adults were sitting, and starting folding up J.’s stuff.
I have a theory that REAL parents have some kind of 6th sense that alerts them when “fake” parents (nannies and their ilk) are around. Real parents don’t like nannies. They resent the hell out of you, and the people you work for. “I’m here for my kid,” they seem to be thinking, “And those assholes just paid someone to do their job for them. I am such a super parent!” Of course they’re forgetting that once their kid hits school age, most of them do exactly the same thing. Anyway, they gave me the cold shoulder. In retrospect, I suppose that my weird, somewhat Princess Leia hairdo, and my really cool Justice League t-shirt did not help my cause. Whatever, I looked rad. A kid from J.’s class even came up to me later to tell me he had the same shirt. Awesome!
J. did amazing. He was brave, he was patient, he was nice to the other kids. He completed all the tasks the teacher set for him, and said they were easy. He raised his hand to get a turn. He was by far the BEST KID OF THE LOT. The other kids were comparatively chicken. The instructor was great, and J. loved her instantly. “This,” I thought, “Is going TO RULE!” And it did rule, for a minute.
When the lesson ended, I went over to J. to towel him off and tell him how proud I was of him. I was bursting with exuberance. “Neener,” I was thinking, “This kid may not be mine, but he’s still better than yours!” I walked him back to the Men’s locker room, handed him his “streeties” and said, “Go get dressed, buddy, and we’ll go to the library.”
“Okay, Auntie. Be right back!”
So I stood outside the door, trying not to look like a perv, but actively trying to prevent ACTUAL pervs from being yucky around my nephew. A few minutes passed, and I hadn’t heard anything from inside.
“J. are you okay in there?”
“J. what’s up?”
“MY UNDERWEAR ARE STUCK!”
I tried to reply quietly, because at this point the ENTIRE ASSHOLE ADULT TABLE was attempting to hide their laughter behind their hands.
“Dude, what do you mean? Dry your butt off with the towel and pull up your underwear! It’s cool!”
“NO! MY UNDERWEAR KEEP GETTING STUCK!”
At this point, I started imagining horrific scenarios in which a kid could get stuck in his underwear. Like maybe he put two feet through one hole, got an arm stuck in the other, and somehow managed to hog tie himself.
“Kid, you’re just gonna have to go commando,” I stage whispered, desperately trying to keep the “real” parents from hearing.
Shoulders at the adult table began to shake, and one person belted out a laugh that she tried to stifle with a cough.
“It’s where you don’t wear any underwear.”
“THAT IS GROSS, AUNTIE! ONLY GROSS PEOPLE DON’T WEAR UNDERWEAR. YOU’RE GROSS, AND I’M STILL STUCK!!!”
The parents totally lost it at this point – politeness forgotten, they ceased to hide their guffaws at the rookie, and literally rolled with laughter. Some of them had tears streaming down their faces. I had no idea of how to resolve the situation. I could hardly march the kid out, underwear stuck at half-mast, and haul him to the ladies room to fix it. The commando card was supposed to be my trump, and it failed MISERABLY. Meanwhile, the sounds of a ferocious and desperate struggle in the Men’s room kept getting louder, and people kept laughing harder. I must’ve turned horribly red at that point. I was about to panic and call J.’s Mommy for technical support when J. called out happily (and not nearly as loudly),
“It’s okay. They came unstuck.”
He got dressed, and we marched towards the gate. People were still sniggering. Then J. voluntarily thanked his teacher on the way out. That shut the fuckers up.