One Last Trip to the Pool
September 4th, 2016
The kids and I spent last Saturday at the public pool. It seemed like the only real option on a 95-degree Saturday, but going to the pool is always something of a production. It’s not an activity I undertake lightly. You have to prepare for the pool. Swimsuits must be located, water bottles filled, goggles adjusted, and towels packed. The correct towels, mind you, because if the orange flame towel gets left behind or – by some horrible mischance – all of the towels have purple in them, the entire world will end.
Then there’s the issue of sunscreen. My kids are all ridiculously fair-skinned like me, so we go through gallons of sunscreen. After spending countless hours this summer outdoors at camps, sporting events, and swimming pools, my oldest daughter’s hue has deepened imperceptibly from bright white to light white and she’s very proud of her ‘tan.’ As for me, I go through a dependable cycle of burn, peel, then return to dazzling white.
Despite the frequency of the occurrence, applying sunscreen to my children never gets easier. It’s actually good exercise. First you have to chase and catch a hapless child because they scatter the moment they see the bottle appear. Then, you have to immobilize said child with a leg scissor hold while slathering on the lotion as they thrash about and accuse you of child abuse. All the movement will mean you get sunscreen in their hair and on their swimsuits which will annoy them further even though it’s their own darned fault. You won’t be able to actually rub it in before they escape, so they’ll head for the water looking like oddly striped ghosts. Once you’ve gotten sunscreen on all three kids, you’ll completely forget to attend to yourself and wind up with sunburns in weird places.
But, okay, everybody is suited up and UV-protected. Time to the head for the water. Oh. My. God. It’s. Cold. Why is it so cold? It’s been in the 90s for weeks and that water is in direct sun. There’s absolutely no reason for it to feel like the polar bear plunge. And with kids, you can’t inch your way in like you want to because someone will do a cannonball next to you with no warning. Better to get it over with and just jump in yourself.
Then there’s the bathroom. Do we need to discuss the bathroom at the pool and how horribly unavoidable it is when you’ve got a three-year-old? Maybe let’s just move on.
Ratios work against me at the pool. Three kids, one grownup. My oldest daughter is finally an independent swimmer this year, but for the past three summers, all of my kids have been drowning risks. Of course their lack of flotation ability doesn’t deter them and everybody wants to be in the deep end so I’ve usually got one hanging on my back and one clinging to my front like a bikini-clad monkey.
But don’t let my whining fool you. I actually like going to the pool with my kids. Their joy is contagious and everybody loves a water slide. We treat ourselves to ice cream from the concession stand and I secretly rock out to the best-of-the-90s soundtrack. We’ll be back again next summer, ready for more fun.