Circa January this year, The Brat's life changed. And how! His father dragged him, kicking and screaming, into advanced swimming class to train under a very competent Arjuna Award-winning coach. I did some kicking and screaming of my own, I confess, when I learnt that reporting time was 5.30 am, since I was more of an owl than a lark. Needless to say, the prospect of opening the peepers before the rooster even got his head out from under the wing, was enough to make me don the sackcloth and ashes. The Brat, prior to this, was not a sporty child. In fact, for a long time, I had to console myself, believing as I did, that he had drawn the short end of the straw and inherited my non sportiness during the genetic lucky draw. Not an unrealistic assumption, given that the only running I've ever done in my life is to be the first to get to the end-of-season sales of my preferred brands, and the most worked-out part of my body is my thumb, thanks to the Blackberry.
The Spouse, however, was keen to disprove me. To give you some historical context, The Spouse has been a national-level swimmer, gold medalist and record holder. He kind of snared me by flexing those biceps and flaunting those broad shoulders under tight tees (and more of which I will not get into here, this being a universal-rating column and not a parental guidance one). The child, on the other hand, was terrified of getting his head underwater, and we went through some harrowing years of washing his hair through stealth and deception, the prime strategy being transporting all his squeaky toy menagerie into the bathroom, and mugs of water being poured over the head when he was absorbed in dismembering an unfortunate toy.
His initiation to the concept of a swimming pool on a holiday had him shivering in fear and sobbing violently for an hour, clinging to me like the proverbial vine to a tree, earning us many disgusted looks from his Y-chromosome donor. By the end of the vacation he had made enough progress to actually sit by the side of the pool and put a finger into the water. But only thus far and no further did his affinity for water manifest.
The Brat grew till the ripe old age of 8 without knowing how to swim, until his father panicked and decided he must learn this basic life skill within the week, even if it entailed panic and a terrified me circling the pool and biting my nails down to the knuckle. A few weeks later, it finally came to pass that the child learnt how to actually swim, and not just thrash around the water in the manner of a panicked puppy. Post that, enthused with the progress, The Spouse took the ambitious decision to enroll the spawn into advanced coaching, right alongside other children his age, who have been swimming from the time they dropped out of the womb, it would seem, and consequently have timings that help them rake in the metals at every possible meet.
Let me be honest here, prior to this, I had no clue what being a sports mom entailed. I went into it, in all innocence, like the inevitable blonde in the slasher flick who goes down into the attic to check out the strange sounds and ends up as a gasping gurgle in a pool of blood! If someone had told me 5 months ago that I would drive out in flood-warning level of rain from the boondocks I live in, to a sport store many suburbs away, to find just the right kind of arm paddles for The Brat, I would have hyuck-hyucked in their face. Five months later, doing just that seemed completely normal. The thought of turning back-in the event that the car would shut down in the midst of navigating a flooded, jammed road and I would asphyxiate to death thanks to jammed doors, and be found grimly holding on to those very arm paddles-didn't even cross my mind. The metamorphosis was complete.
I am now that scary phenomenon, the Sport Mom, the type of Mom I hitherto crossed the road to avoid being seen in public with. My conversations now revolve around stroke technique, timings, microseconds shaved and diets for optimal energy. I can speak about Dolphin kick and streamlining until eyes glaze over and people keel over and die from boredom. Given that the word diet was earlier synonymous with all-you-can-eat buffets to me, this is a first. Considering I don't have one sporty bone in my body, the fact that I am now talking about muscle-building diets, muscle-group workouts and core building can only be affirmations of how irretrievably far down the road to being a Sport Mom I have travelled.
For the past 5 months, The Brat has, morning and evening, been going to swim class, and doing so with a sickening enthusiasm that has him waking up way before the decreed wake-up time, and prising my eyes open in order to wake me too, so that we aren't late for practice. This is no regular swim class where he does his laps briskly, emerges refreshed and goes forth to carpe the diem or the night, depending on which batch it is. It is an intensive, rigorous workout that exhausts me while watching from my cosy corner by the poolside, my only exercise being the one I give my thumb while Tweeting, Whatsapping and BBMing all through his one-and-a-half hour of training.
The routine is exacting, and his room is a mess of kickboards, pull buoys, arm paddles and flippers that I could scuba dive or knock out a burglar with, spread over all the available floor space to dry out. In the distant past, I was the kind of proud homekeeper who would bound out of bed from deep sleep, because I suddenly remembered that the frame on the third footstool in the right hand corner of the living room wasn't at the 60-degree angle it should be, and had to straighten the deviation before I could hunker down and sleep in peace. I've made my peace with an untidy room. I've made my peace with the complete lack of a social life. I've even made my peace with a schedule so grinding that I barely get time to breathe, and the dark circles under my eyes which could have me auditioning for a walk-on part in a zombie flick. But most of all, I've made my peace with being the parent of a child who has brazenly thumbed down my non-sporty genes, and has made it to the school swim team barely 5 months after beginning training.