“Mommy, here! Catch!”
I squinted my eyes and caught the water-logged pool ball my 10-year-old son, Bobby threw at me.
“Now throw it to me again – I will catch it and throw it back to you before I go under the water!”
“OOOOOOOO – I want to try too!” yelled Catelyn from the sidelines.
“Alright, here we go!”
And the three of us played. Catch. Then some other games. Then the kids went to play with some other friends while I watched on and went through some notes. Afterwards we got a snack and joked around by the pool.
We relaxed. It was nice.
Declan started school yesterday, a week before the older two children go back. When we realized we would have a few hours to do some things that would be less challenging with Declan otherwise occupied, the choice was obvious: let’s go to the pool.
Bobby and I talked about how bad we felt. Declan LOVES to go to the pool. He loves to jump in and make a big splash. He loves to float on his back in his Spiderman swim vest and just coast along the water. Declan loves to see some of his friends there. By going without him – we just felt bad since we know how much he enjoys the experience.
When Declan is there, we are on routine. That’s just what works best.
As his parent I have to be right next to him at the pool. He has no safety awareness. There is no area that is too deep. There is no such thing as “adult swim.” If it is called when we are there, I am on constant defense to keep him out of the pool during this coveted time for other adults. And I am the one apologizing and fishing out the screaming child once he gets passed me.
Declan loves to play with his brother and sister, but they want to play with their friends too. If their play with Declan evolves to the deep end, Declan can’t go. Unless he gets past me and jumps right into the deep end, swimmie vest on or not. I run, I chase, I dive in after – and I do not think ANYONE looks good when they are chasing their child at the pool in a bathing suit. So sometimes, Bobby or Catelyn are called back from their friends to play with Declan. For the good of the pool trip.
We are there for an hour on a regular day. I call the time for snack as soon as we set foot on pool ground. I call the time the car is leaving as soon as we set foot on pool ground. Neither of those times is debatable by an older child, and thankfully we have learned to follow those times.
I go in the pool with Declan in the shallow end and get splashed by all the young swimmers. With him, I play superhero’s for an hour. I am usually the bad guy to his Spiderman. But I will play it. Sometimes, I can sit by the edge of the pool if he has found a friend to play superhero with, but always vigilant as games or peaceful encounters can end so fast. I see the other adults sitting in chairs in the grass of the pool grounds. There are times I see their perches as appealing, but I do enjoy seeing Declan play, and getting to play with him.
we went alone for the first time and I didn’t know what to do. I sat in the grassy area I had found so appealing by the shallow end until I realized I was sitting in someone else’s “usual spot.” So I moved to the deep end where my kids were playing. I had no lawn chair, no books and no books to write in. Truly out of my element. It started to get hot, so I got in and swam – where I wanted to! The kids had freedom and no necessary routine. Took us all a bit to adjust!
We missed Declan.
We missed seeing him floating in the water, saving the day as Spiderman, splashing in the water – looking like he is feeling happy and free. But it was nice to take some time to enjoy the pool another way. It was strange for us, but fun.
I got to play with my big kids at the pool. They got to play with their friends and not be called back. I got to spend some time in the grassy area. We did things out of our regular routine. We missed Declan, but I am glad we had the opportunity to enjoy each other and the pool in a new way.