I had overlooked the quarter cup or so of pool water he had consumed during the swim lesson. Or even the teaspoon of water he had extracted from sucking on his swim shirt while sitting on the edge of the pool waiting for his turn. There were probably more gulps of bright and burning chlorine that made its way into his little digestive system later when he fell forward, arms spread, mouth agape, over and over again, while playing "Aqua Man" in the shallow area.
By the time Dee and T and I made it to the women's locker room, I had assumed T was water logged. At that point, the official clock for showering in public with the children had started to run. And I needed to beat my best record. I'm talking about the panic that always overcomes me when I face any long and annoying journey like the locker room shuffle.
Years seem to pass and my face visibly wrinkles as I guide my kids around half clothed women of all ages and sizes from the pool entrance to our locker. From there, I must console my shivering brood while fumbling with the lock because my husband has spun me into a tizzy that some gym thief is going to steal my key fob from my coat pocket, beep for the car in the Y parking lot and then speed off with our minivan, all while I'm trying to keep up the basic Samba step at Zumba class.
After several attempts to yank and eventually gently massage, my overstuffed gym bag from the locker, I locate the cosmetic bag, shove off my own sweaty clothes, beg for a wet towel from one of the swimsuit-clad kids (we save the fluffy ones for when we're "clean"), and head back through the people maze to the open showers.
As expected, the water is too cold for comfort and a far cry from a steady flow. There's no time to relax - even for a second - under the lukewarm trickle of water, despite the cast of thousands, primarily because the kids need help reaching the soap and because the water automatically shuts off every 30 seconds.
So, for the duration of the shower, I engaged in a three step dance that strangely mimics motherhood itself. Step 1) pound on the water source button; Step 2) soap and rinse kids; Step 3) wash my own body in piecemeal format from single errant spray from the kids' shower. Repeat.
Somewhere near the end of the shower dance, when the kids were done and I was gathering up the shampoo and conditioner bottles, I turned to see them crouching on the floor, chins millimeters from the drain. Dee was inspecting it, apparently appreciating how the clogged hair and skin particles gathered and combined to allow a pool to form.
To my horror, T's appreciation went one step further. Like a parched lion anxiously roaming the desert, he approached the drain pool like a welcome watering hole and began to lap up its contents as if he had just survived a lengthy drought.
In that moment, I shrieked, "No, STOP THAT!" and threw in a couple "Eeeewwwww gross. That's so gross. Sooooo. GROOOOOSSSSS!!!
At some point, I stopped asking T, "Why? Why on earth would you do that?" like some prime time eighties sitcom dad admonishing his sixteen year old for denting the rear fender of the family's Volvo.
I managed to move on with my life and gather the towel round me, holding the cosmetic bag with the same hand while using the other to hold the hand of my one clean kid. T was instructed to tag along behind us, like a good little lion cub.
Before I had a chance to use my Breck Girl skills to whip my snarled wet hair back and out of my face, a familiar looking twenty something in a standard issue red Y polo shirt approached me. She was one of the gals at the child care services, charged with watching my 18 month old for the full two hours a day that Y membership allows.
My general locker room panic escalated for a second. Was I beyond the two hour time limit?
Turns out, no. The helpful Y childcare gal stopped me and my naked preschoolers two feet outside of the shower to inform me that my big baby, who left the house in a cuter than all be tennis skirt and striped tights, had had a blowout in her diaper that was now leaking down her legs.
They had wrapped her in a towel. Cool, we match.
She wanted to know if I brought extra diapers. I told her I did, that they were ready and waiting for use back at the childcare center. Then the obviously childless soul asked,
"So...should I just bring her to you now?"
At first, I thought I had misunderstood. Here? Now? I was naked. I had naked underlings with me. The diapers were far, far away.
But then, she asked again, "should I just bring her to you now?" No! Hell no! Poop juice will get on my semi clean naked self while my baby wriggles on a narrow backless bench over a concrete floor.
For a minute or so, we went back and forth over whether I had extra clothes for the baby (of course not) and if they had a changing facility back at childcare central. I knew they did. Eventually, I got the message: it was my job and mine alone to change Nar's diaper.
I suggested that perhaps it would work best if I got dressed first and then ran out to change the baby in a facility designed for such purposes. "It might be safer," I said, playing the health and safety card.
Helpful Y childcare gal accepted my promise and finally left Dee and T and I to complete the last leg of the locker room shuffle. Because were way over my panic record, T was fresh out of time to linger over the drain or to climb the handicapped bar by the toilet.
And I got to go home with wet hair and a pants free baby. In February. 100 miles south of the Canadian border.
And this - this - is why I generally exercise once a week. Those cookie calories are hard earned.