Dear local Aquatic Centre,
I have been dragging my unenthusiastic and ungrateful children to your swimmin’ hole for 6 years now, and I thought it might be time to share with you some feedback, that under normal circumstances I bottle up deep inside with the rest of ‘the rage’.
Let’s face it, if working mothers actually gave real-time, honest to god feedback on the myriad of engagements we make each day, with our children, on the school playground, at our places of work, to the goods and service providers with which me mingle, then life would rapidly descend into an extremely shouty, very sweary perma-rant. And all of us maxed out working mums, straddling the boundary between a just about socially acceptable level of sanity and falling into the void straight over the cuckoo’s nest, would be carted off to specially (and no doubt shoddily) built institutions. Here we would rant at each other and no-one, about post office queues, under-ripe avocados, chemists that say they open at 9.30, but clearly don’t open until 9.45, arseholes who should not have drivers licences, the misfortune that has struck our whole family that means they haven’t the gross motor skills to change a bog roll, and about using a butter knife to scrape dog shit from our kids sneakers for the umpteenth time, while smiling vacuous faces from the Sunrise couch drone on in the background, and unsympathetic orderlies throw food at us.
So what I’m saying is, local Aquatic Centre, it’s time for the reckoning.
Let’s begin with the lift (you know the one with the doors that open for 5 seconds and then cut your child in half?), that works only on Christmas and high holy days. When the lift was out-of-order and my children were in strollers, I had the choice of walking up two vast flights of stairs carrying those children, and their stroller, and their swimming bag, or walking around the block and up the hill. Neither great when we were probably already running ever so slightly late. Now that the kids are older, the stairs are fair game I suppose. I appreciate that you occasionally decide to throw money at the lift and shut it down on purpose to try to make it not be such a piece of engineering shit, but to be honest that enrages me as much as when it just breaks down.
I wonder if the lift people are the same people who provide your car park payment machine, and the entertaining process involved around that little slice of heaven! I do love that piece of cunning that sees the payment machine 2 floors above the car park at the cafe of the aquatic centre. Because then if you forget to pay on your way out, or realise you can’t find your ticket for whatever (totally valid) reason, you have to go back up (see lift issues above)! Often the payment machine is out-of-order, natch, so you have to pay at the entrance desk, waiting behind people renewing their membership, or having a little chat about their fascinating lives, while my eyelid twitches uncontrollably. I also adore the fact that machine won’t take 50c coins, or Visa. Good one!
If you manage to make it past the lift and the entrance desk (stop chatting for fuck sake!) you can enjoy your 30 minutes of relative peace while your child has their swimming lesson with which ever stand-in uni student they have to cover the original teacher who shows up so infrequently you can’t actually remember his name. Or was it a her? Good job my child is resilient and doesn’t require any kind of consistency or reliability in this area.. So I spend 30 minutes reading the entire internet, applying for jobs, paying invoices, booking doctors, placing lunchbox orders and pretending to be engaged in my child’s progress in the pool by remembering to look up occasionally, smiling broadly and giving a big thumbs up! I enjoy these 30 minutes, because when they’re up, the fun really begins.
Your changing facilities (insert name of an Aussie swimming legend) Aquatic Centre, are an absolute fucking disgrace. I do not remember a visit where there wasn’t a family change room out-of-order or an empty soap dispenser (who needs soap, it’s only chlorine!). I counted 7 lockers out of order this morning (out of order lockers? What even..?) broken shower heads, empty hand towel dispensers, unclean toilets.. And for the last 2 months, the lights in the changing room are broken, so we wrestle with our kids to get clothes onto their sticky still chlorinated bodies in the half darkness. WHY??????? I can go to Mitre 10 and get some bulbs for you if that’s the issue. No biggie honestly. And for the love of Christ, turn the air-con off, the children are cold from the pissy tepid showers as it is, blasting cold air on their shivering bodies is bordering on sadism. Are you people sadists? Maybe you are.
If you make it out alive, at a functioning body temperature, with sanity and shit still intact, you will be faced with the enigma that is the ‘cafe’! I won’t bag out the coffee, which is awful, because there is many an awful coffee to be endured at places more suited to making a decent coffee than an aquatic centre. But how about that food! My child has just done something close to a healthy activity, and we will now destroy that with crisps, cakes, ice-creams and lollies. If I wanted to feed my kid that shit, I would just take them home! Once there was a sushi roll on offer, but they took it off. The assistant didn’t know why. He was a uni student stand-in for the original assistant anyway. And they had veggie chips, but they didn’t sell well enough apparently, so now it’s just normal chips. And because you can’t get out with passing this shit-platter, and my kids are tired and hungry and cranky and badly behaved and poorly disciplined, they launch a full-scale nuclear attack if I don’t buy them something. So thanks so especially much for challenging my parenting skills as a last twist of the knife!
This has been fun, local Aquatic Centre. I guess as ending our membership requires my physical attendance anyway (you have to come in and sign the paperwork to end your contract, because, arseholes), we will continue to experience the pleasure of a weekly trip (plus $10 in tolls, $2.70 for 25 minutes parking, $14 per weekly lesson and $7000 for a gingerbread man, ) to bring my reluctant, recalcitrant children up to the level of average swimmers, who probably won’t drown in still waters, but won’t be winning any medals.
Yours in theraputic ranting glory,
Amelia, mother to two very mediocre swimmers.