It’s over a week since the last post, and we’ve just been moseying along, busy with school, cross-country running, swimming and the usual 24/7 feeding schedule. Two other couples, Niamh and Paul and their 3 year old daughter Shauna, and Eddie and June, have joined us during the week, so it was great to meet up with them and realise how much we actually know by now about Saskatoon. We’re here six weeks now, and everything is becoming easier and more familiar all the time.
School is going well, apart from one gigantic strop from Benjamin on Monday, when he refused to play tag during gym time because it’s “dumb and stupid” and then followed through with a refusal to do any homework. He informed his teacher, Mr Sander, that homework was optional in Ireland, and then refused to acknowledge that this was a big fat lie when he finally got home. I really hope Mrs Egan-Byrne is reading this. Mr Sander sent a polite, if somewhat bewildered, note home, and Benjamin and I went to visit him the following morning before school started. My little mule apologised, and we established that homework is definitely not an “option” in Ireland. He was so nice about it all. I’m beginning to think that Canadians are genetically programmed to be polite and nice at all times.
On Thursday night we met Nicholas’ teacher, Ms Haynes, for a “Meet the Teacher” session. She had a mammy stick insect and lots of baby stick insects in a glass tank for Rebecca to look at, and when Rebecca couldn’t see them properly, she took out the mammy and let it crawl slowly up her arm. Shudder. They’re hoping to build an outdoor classroom next spring, so Nicholas will love that. Loads of sticks, stones, bugs, insects and wildlife in general to be collected, poked, prodded and brought home as trophies to his ever-grateful mother.
The gorgeous Heather invited me to The Importance of Being Earnest on Friday night in a local theatre, but instead of a night of culture, I had to spend the evening at a Timing Clinic at the Shaw Centre. This is designed to train parents in how to time the races at swim meets etc., and next week’s clinic is the Stroke and Turn one. I was underwhelmed with excitement.
I arrived a couple of minutes late, and slid into a seat between a man and a teenage boy. The woman giving the clinic was lovely, but everything was way more complicated than I expected. There were touchpads and plungers and stopwatches, DNFs and DQs, safety marshalling information and lots and lots of mathematics. Decimal points and rounding up, 10ths and 100ths, averages and means…..My eyes were glazing over.
We had an exam at the end. The first question was this:
1. The correct dress for Officials is:
a. Their own club T-shirts
b. matching shirts, if provided by meet management
c. all white clothing
d. shorts or tennis skirt
Well, none of these sounded particularly attractive to me, to be honest. A and B might be bearable, but C was out of the question and I wouldn’t be caught dead in a tennis skirt. I chewed my pencil and tried to cog off the kid beside me. He was texting his friend. I smiled sweetly at the guy on the other side. “I was late” I hissed. “It’s C” he whispered back out of the corner of his mouth. And grinned evilly. I grinned back. Yeah, right. AS IF! I abandoned question 1 and moved on through the next 28. Lots of them involved maths. I could smell the teenager’s brain frying beside me. I started to get a bit blasé about it all. Tick, tick, don’t know that one, move along, tick, think for a minute, no, don’t know that one either….. We had already been told that the test wasn’t going to be graded, so my academic competitive streak had gone back to sleep.
Results time. Carol started at the top and started to call out the answers. “Ok, everyone, the answer to Q 1 is C”, she trilled. I was aghast. ALL WHITE CLOTHING? They must be out of their fecking minds. The world was definitely not ready for me in head-to-toe white. Breathe, breathe…. She moved on. We got to the maths questions. The guy two doors up couldn’t understand any of the answers. We had to go back to basics. “The longer the time, the slower the swimmer” explained Carol patiently. Three times. I was itching to get back to Q1 to clarify it. She must have meant A. Or even B. But definitely not C. The results came to an end, and she started wandering around the tables. “Any questions about any of it?” she murmured when she got to my table. “Seriously, all-white clothing????” I asked anxiously. “I know” she smiled sympathetically. “I don’t really do white trousers” I explained. I mean, surely there was leeway here. For special cases. For special, arse-like-the-back-of-a-bus cases. “You can get white scrubs in Walmart”, she said reassuringly. “And maybe get two, because they get wet”. Great. Wet white trousers. And a wet white t-shirt. Is there no end to the humiliation?
I went home with my tail between my legs, and after dropping the kids off at the pool at 7.15am this morning, I headed into Walmart to find the scrubs section. I grabbed white trousers and different white t-shirts, and braced myself for the changing-room mirror. I put everything on and opened my eyes. Here’s a photo of the end result:
Yeah. Right. Not in a million years, folks. You’ll have to come to a swim meet in Saskatoon to laugh your asses off – no freeloading mockery here….
The first meet is next Saturday. I’m going to organise a power cut at my side of the pool. Bring it on.
P.S. Ok, I feel a bit selfish now. I’ll send a photo to whoever answers the following exam questions correctly.
1. At the start of the race, you should start your watch:
a. at the sound of the gun
b. at the flash of the gun
c. when the swimmer leaves the block
d. at the sound of the horn
e. at the flash of the strobe light on the automatic system
f. whether your lane is occupied or not
2. If the swimmer in your lane does not finish the required distance, you should
a. report DID NOT FINISH (DNF) on the time card
b. report what time the swimmer left the water
c. record what time the swimmer stopped swimming
14. Rewrite the following times in the correct numerical order:
a. one minute, two and ten one-hundredths second
b. four minutes, thirty-six hundredths of a second
c. two minutes and one second
d. thirty four point two-five seconds
e. one minute, fifteen and forty-three hundredths of a second
4. When ringing the bell lap, you should
a. ring the bell as the swimmer approaches the wall (from backstroke flags to the wall and back)
b. ring the bell over the right-hand lane rope
c. ring the bell throughout the last lap of the race
d. ring the bell after consultation with the Referee and Chief Timekeeper
Some questions have more than one correct answer.