Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Swimwear Shopping is an Extreme Sport

*This will be me on holidays, except I will try to remember to take my shoes off before swimming. Still, we all know after a few cocktails anything's possible...

Swimwear shopping requires five key elements: focus, fitness, stamina, high self esteem and a whole lot of patience. I know this because I did it recently, and it's fair to say the experience almost broke me. If I had to describe it in just a few words... It sucked the big one.

Wherever you're from and whatever you call them, swimmers/bathers/ togs/cossies do the same thing.

They allow us to go naked in public and pretend we're not.

Two weeks ago the elastic in my favourite red one-piece turned to custard. Literally. After Lucy's swimming lesson I lifted her out of the pool, pulled myself out as gracefully as I could and headed towards our towels, only to discover that the front of my swimmers were swinging past my hips like a prolapse. Not. Good.

Timing wise, it wasn't the best time for the old cossie to pack it in. It was the last week of August, and therefore Winter. Finding ANY kind of swimwear at this time of year is almost impossible. Two weeks into September I'd be slightly better off, but the choices were few and far between. I went everywhere, I really did. And I tried on everything. With a two year old in tow. It was a laugh a minute. But the hardest part wasn't the lack of choice. It was the lack of the essential items required for a swimwear-ready body:

Tan (real or fake)



Soft lighting (Myer tends to frown on BYO candles in their change rooms. Go figure.)


Personal retoucher.

I am only half joking about these, and while I don't actually hate my body, like most women I am acutely aware of its flaws, be they real or perceived. Thing is, when we put on our swimmers and venture forth, apart from a thin piece of Lycra to cover our private bits, we are basically naked. And when it's Summertime and hot, and we're all on the beach and everyone's happy and summery and has attended to a few of the above, it's happy days and who cares. But with the exception of Miranda Kerr and that incredibly hot woman in the new Seafolly campaign, who has a body they'd be happy to see in a swimsuit at the very end of Winter? Hands up!

While I was tempted to buy one of those fabulously modest birkinis just to cover up the multitude of sins I've been able to hide over winter (especially as the elastic headed lower and lower in my old swimmers), I decided on a forgiving tankini from Tar-jay for our weekly dunking in chlorine at swim school. I also bought a Jets one piece with an invisible in-built strapless bra thingy to make my boobs salute the sun when we go on holidays. It's all false advertising and I won't be doing star jumps in it, but by golly the girls look perky.

As my two purchases go, I'm as happy as I can be with swimwear, but now that the naked-in-public thing has dawned on me I'm having a fit thinking about getting nude every week at swimming. I've done it happily all year but suddenly have given myself a reason for a weekly anxiety attack. Thankfully the pool we go to is full of lovely Mums of all shapes and sizes who, like me, couldn't give a toss what anyone else looks like. I've just had one of those 'a-ha' moments and have remembered that Summer body confidence takes time and layers of fake tan to build.

By the end of Summer I'm practically romping around in hardly a cheesecloth hanky every day of the week, but from here I've got a long way to go.

Time to break out the St Tropez and suck it in.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Is it ever OK to discipline someone else's child?

The subject of when, if ever, it's acceptable to discipline other people's kids has been on my mind lately. To be clear from the outset, I'm not some cane-wielding headmistress who's always on the lookout for a delinquent kid to sort out, but sometimes I wonder what, if anything, I am morally (and legally) entitled to do in a situation where a kid needs to be pulled up.

Last week at preschool, as six parents and their kids waited for the front door to open there were two little boys doing what little boys do, play fighting and shoving each other up against the door. They were hitting the door with a fair bit of force but their parents both seemed oblivious. It WAS annoying, particularly BC (before coffee) but I figured it wasn't my place to say anything.

This went on for a few minutes before one of the other parents went completely off his nut at them, yelling at them to "Stop that this minute! You'll break the door and then there'll be serious trouble! Now come here and sit down!" (or words to that effect - he did go on a bit, and boy was he LOUD).

The ensuing silence was deafening and he collective air sucked in at that moment almost started a low pressure system. The parents of the boys called them over sheepishly and they sat down. Nobody dared say a word, and everyone started inspecting their shoes. Finally, a brave soul enquired to nobody in particular if we were all going to the school concert and the ice broke.

It was a hot topic of conversation at the park that afternoon. "Did you hear him? You can't DO that!" was the gist of it, and the consensus was it was a definite howler by this Dad, who will henceforth be known as "The Daddy Who Lost His Shit at the Boys" by parents and kids alike.

But it doesn't stop there. It's not only an issue if you take on a kid in front of their parents. What about the child on a play date at your place who empties drawers, draws on your walls and pushes your toddler down the stairs. What do you do then?

Having recently felt the wrath of a close friend whose child my husband inadvertently told off (long story), it's a sensitive issue and one that can cause tremors in even the most rock-solid of friendships.

Personally, I'd like to think that if my kid is being offensive, or doing something dangerous, or mean or behaving in an anti-social manner and there is a reasonable adult nearby, the adult is entitled to tell them to stop whatever they are doing. This doesn't have to be delivered in a whispery 'Stop that please, petal' kind of voice, but neither should it have to come with a backhand. There's a lot of grey area in between, and that's where the trouble starts.

I have been known to ask kids at the park to please stop throwing bark in my baby's eyes and then calling in their parents when they didn't. They parents didn't like it but frankly, neither did I appreciate having to ask them to step in. I hope in these situations I don't go into overprotective mother mode, but I can't guarantee it's the case. My husband calls me Mother Lion with good reason, so I'm not going to get all 'glass houses' here. I'm just saying that when it comes to disciplining other people's kids there's a whole murky subject on who should deliver it and in what form. And on which side of it you're standing at the time.

I'd really love to hear your comments on this. Have you ever had a parent face-off over disciplining someone else's kid?