Wednesday, 20 August 2008

Adventurous Challenge Met

Taking the children swimming is no doubt viewed by many parents as a fairly routine thing. For me, however, it was a bit of an adventure, as I have never done it on my own before, and the Squirmle hasn't been in a pool for nearly a year, which for him is two-thirds of a lifetime. We were going to go with his friend Paul, but Paul has a cold. I compounded the challenge by deciding to put my Green hat on and take the Squirmle and his buggy on the bus, which is also something I have not done before.

I am pleased to report an almost unqualified success. A bit of a wait for the bus, which became unexpectedly busy (another buggy, and hordes of pensioners), but the infant fell asleep early in the journey, which helped, especially as it also enabled me to check out without interruption all those hateful details (where are the lockers? how do you get into them? where are the loos? ditto? etc.).

The Squirmle was overwhelmed by the pool at first - mainly, I think, by the noise and the number of people - and he clutched me and whimpered for the first ten minutes or so. Then he realized that all those other children were actually laughing and enjoying themselves, and that sploshing gently up and down in the water was not unpleasant. Pretty soon he had remembered how to smile and kick feebly while being floated around on his tummy, so we had a good 20 minutes before his teeth started to chatter. Memo to self: take a bigger bag - one that will carry not only all the towels, changing stuff, snacks, etc., but also all the clothes that both of you are wearing, including shoes and coats! No hot snacks at the leisure centre this morning, but we found our way to the Cathedral coffee shop and shared a jacket potato with baked beans.

Got back at 2 o'clock, and he's still asleep two hours later! Result! For making an acquaintance with water, it was a lot more hassle for me than letting him pour muddy water over himself out of a flowerpot on the patio (which was yesterday's amusement), but involves less laundry.

Friday, 15 August 2008

Not reading books

Not reading books is a talent I need to cultivate. Especially with non-fiction, I have a tendency to pick up a book that looks as if it might be interesting, and then keep picking it up and reading a bit more, even though I've realized it's not actually that interesting and I could use my time more constructively (or enjoyably) doing something else. I am doing this with "Hating America" at the moment: I guess that, like Winnie-the-Pooh with a jar of honey, I am making quite sure that it is the same all the way to the bottom, and faintly hoping that the last section (on the most modern period) might have a bit more interest. I may find myself doing the same with "Emergence": books about things like complexity and game theory always have that patina of boringness, with the use of small line drawings to illustrate concepts which are either incomprehensible anyway or blindingly obvious. It's partly to do with the nature of the detail: if you're interested in emergence in the evolution of the biosphere, a disquisition on checkers-playing computers is simply an irritation.