'You must take the baby swimming. She'll love it."
As any middle-class parent knows, swimming lessons are a must. Along with all the other musts, such as baby yoga, baby Bach and baby massage. No matter that babies seem to have made it through the past 5,000 years without sensory labs and salsa classes; now, any parent who doesn't fill her diary risks veiled accusations of neglect and could find herself shunned at Soft Play.
So we go, with waterproof nappies bearing a picture from Finding Nemo – although I don't remember Marlin discovering his missing son up a baby's bottom.
"Splish, splash, splosh!" we chant, dragging our offspring through the water. "Kick, kick, kick!" Because, you see, after all that time floating in the womb, babies are natural swimmers, ecstatically reliving those halcyon days before they were born.
Except mine. Ten seconds in and her eyes are filling with tears. By the time we get to "Five Little Ducks", she isn't a child so much as a vast, screaming mouth.
On we push, me plunging her below the surface, despite it being clear to us both that she is going to drown. Then, I flip her on to her back for "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star", at which point my daughter closes her eyes, clearly hoping for a swift end.
"I'm sorry," I whisper – to her, to the instructor, to the other babies, and to God.
"Well, you did leave it rather late to start," says Disapproving Other Mum. My daughter is nine months old.
Maybe we should have gone to that salsa class, after all.Reuse content