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In over my head

In over my head


My kids know to steer clear when I’m in the deep end.

The pool rule is simple: If Mama can’t touch, don’t touch her.

Don’t grab onto me. Don’t try to climb onto my back. Don’t ask me to tie your shoe or whatever acrobatics you suddenly wish me to accomplish for you while treading water and trying not to die.

If your life is in danger, I will gladly help you. I will do this the most logical way — I will wave my hand for a lifeguard.

That’s why they are there. The lifeguard guards your life. The mom remembers to pack the towels.

Knowing this about me, you can appreciate the ludicrousy involved in my latest endeavor: getting my Girl Scout small boat certification.

I am taking the Scouts camping again, and I need the eight-hour course if I want to include anything that floats in our lakeside shenanigans. In theory, I should be able to use the certificate to rescue someone should she fall out of her kayak, capsize a canoe or, I suppose, if things go south with an inner tube.

It involves a swim test. In a lake. In May.

Training seems to be my hobby as of late. People just can’t get enough of sending me off to learn things I hope I never have to do. I now know how to give a pregnant lady the Heimlich maneuver. I can zap someone back to life with one of those zapper packs that hang on walls everywhere. I can splint a leg. Treat a burn. Shave the back end of a cat (OK, that was self-taught). And if shove came to push, I could flub my way through a car birth should that pregnant lady I saved from choking decide to go into labor.

This latest training, however, will be different. For starters, it involves getting into a bathing suit, way, way, way before bathing suit season. The flesh on this body is not ready for public display until around July.

Also, as mentioned, it involves swimming and falling out of otherwise stable boats.

We all have our strengths and weaknesses. The aforementioned falls into my weakness category.

Just ask my boss.

When I applied for my part-time job, I was asked the classic interview question that gets asked at every job interview: “What is your weakness?”

Weakness? Weakness! Why didn’t I study for this? Think. Think. Think.

I couldn’t see the benefit of Potential Boss Lady knowing the stumbling block that is Mint Oreos or how I go all jelly legs at the sight of a sleeping baby sucking his thumb (I seriously can’t handle that level of cuteness). I said nothing. I just stared at Potential Boss Lady completely blank. That’s when I happened to notice a pool in the distance.

“Well, I am not a very good swimmer,” I said.

Potential Boss Lady gave me a curious look.

“OK ... well …,” she said, as if not sure how to respond to this declaration. “... Luckily there is really not much call for our member service representatives to swim anywhere.”

“Well, that’s good!” I said cheerfully.

She still gave me the job. And she stayed true to her word and has never asked me to swim anywhere.

But Girl Scouts wants more. Proving you can flop out of a canoe and then shimmy back in is as Scout-ish as peddling Thin Mints and singing songs about chewing up bumblebees.

I’ve got to do this.

And, if I get in over my head, no worries. I am sure there will be someone there who can wave a hand for the lifeguard. That’s why they are there. I’ll bring the towels.

Martha Petteys writes a weekly column for

The Post-Star.

Write to her at or visit The Moms blog at


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