Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Getting along swimmingly

We spent yesterday afternoon at the pool. Hurrah! Our town boasts the country's first public swimming pool — and while I'll complain all summer that the words "historic" and "pool" shouldn't be used together (there's this issue about the bottom of the pool crumbling and flaking off every year, and let's not talk about the old drains), it is awfully nice to have a swimming pool a mile away.

Beth's been taking swimming lessons. The first day — last Monday — she was pretty weepy and panicky and I had to hold onto her every moment we were in the pool. By the third day she could make it through the class without tears (and thus earned herself an afternoon trip back to the pool); by the end of last week she didn't need me in the pool at all. Today Sarah and I sat in the shade (though it's so humid shade doesn't help much right now) and hung out with our friends the Russes while Beth and Lila and about eight other kids had their lesson. It's so, so cute: they sing songs and splash themselves with water and then pretend to be pancakes in the water (they sit on the one-foot-deep bottom of the pool and kick their feet, then flip over and do the same thing), and eventually the teachers lead them out in a big long train of two- and three-year-olds in blue floaty rings. And they jump off the lifeguard's diving board into the teachers' arms, and hang onto the fence in the middle of the pool and practice their kicks. Beth's favorite thing to do is be an alligator: float on her tummy with her head out of the water, walking along the bottom of the pool on her hands.

So yesterday afternoon the pool was packed, thanks probably to the fact that summer vacation has just barely begun and the weather is so swelteringly unbearable that it's a choice between being sopping wet at home in your clothes or sopping wet in the pool in a bathing suit. Kiersten and Sam got there shortly after we did; Sam, who's not quite one, loved the water and turned blue with cold quickly. Sarah wanted me to help her float the whole time, preferably in circles with her head leaning back in the water. The kid's a fish. Beth showed off her alligator skills and practiced climbing in and out of the pool while Kiersten and I watched some Spectacularly Bad Parenting in action. (If you want your kids out of the pool? Get them yourself. Don't send some complete stranger after them when you're wearing your swimsuit and could very easily get into the pool. And don't make idle threats, 'cause kids see through those. Follow through on what you say once in a while and they'll start falling in line. I so, so want a month with those kids and a chance to slap that woman upside the head. But I'm not going to get it, so I'll just be snarky about it in the pool. And on my blog.)

(Good Bethism: after we got out of the pool and I was changing Sarah's diaper and Kiersten was changing Sam's because both kids were soaked and FREEZING, Beth pointed to Sam and said, "Oh! He has blue boy parts." We had a good laugh over that one.)

Here's the thing: I love hanging out in the pool. I love being out in the sun and the water and giving Beth piggyback rides in the "deep part" while trying to keep Sarah from throwing herself in for an attempted backstroke. The shallow end of the pool, the only side the kids are allowed in, is all of three feet deep in the very center. It's not like I'm practicing my butterfly stroke. But by the time I got home my calves were aching and I was really, really tired. I guess toting two kids around in the water for an hour is a pretty good workout. We're going to spend a lot of time there this summer, and Sarah will get to stomp around the pool and refuse offers of help until she desperately wants to be swung around by the hands, and Beth will play alligator, and at some point Beth's almost-seven-year-old friend (and object of hero worship) Audrey will take her in the pool, and we'll go through untold cans of spray-on sunscreen. Sound good? Come join us someday.


Sarah Kay said...

JEALOUS! My mom got a pool membership for her and Olivia this summer. And I sit in my office with french-fry-like lights wishing I was in the sun. Grass is always greener...yadayada. The blue boy parts - that's hilarious.

Dickson Circus said...

HOORAY! Your little gals are turning into fishes! Why is the older one always more cautious in the pool? This I must know!
You were fantastic to NOT slap the parent upside the head! Don't they know how quickly kids will drown? Come on, people!

Rebecca said...

I love the pool and when they start to feel comfortable it makes it easier but my fears increase by 200%!! I love your bethisms!! She says the funniest things!