Getting Our Feet Wet

Here we are. Two weeks into mysummer and the pool is in full swing. The pool--like birthday parties, playgrounds and school--brings on its own version of politics with certain "rules." There is so much more involved in the pool than just water a few pool toys.

Background: My kids are four and almost three. Last year as summer concluded, my oldest was this close to learning to swim, but with the break from the pool he's scared as anything to get in the pool or even get his face wet. As much as I said I would never resort to floatation devices (arm bands, life jackets, etc.) I find myself wishing I was one of those moms who could quickly acclimate her kids to the water. My kids are terrified of the water. No matter how many games we play and how much kicking, bubble blowing or jumping off the side, my kids are scared.

So why does this bother me? Because it is me. I remember taking swim lessons at the YMCA when I was five and being terrified. I hated it except for lunch which was always PB&J with Fritos. Oh so yum. I remember being sad in elementary school because I was afraid of the water. I couldn't do the big pools, couldn't do the diving boards and just couldn't have fun because I couldn't swim. I finally taught myself to swim when I was 10. I'm a terrible swimmer today but I can swim. Couldn't save my children out in the ocean, but then again, I don't like swimming where seaweed tangled on my feet is a possibility. But I digress.

Moving into pool mode is like getting into the swing of school or even getting used to a new work routine. The kids haven't been in the pool for 10 months. In a little kid's life, that's a long time. I have to remember in those 10 months they've grown and changed in more ways than I can imagine and with that comes new fears.

The pool is a fine balance. Being careful to make the pool safe (which is of course the number one priority) it has to be mixed in with fun and yet, still consideration for other people.

--You can splash at the pool. Yet some will disagree that little kids and adults sitting on the side shouldn't be splashed. This is ludicrous. If you're in the pool, you're fair game. If you can't take the water, get out of the pool. Granted it has to be within reason. Obviously my four-year old splashing after people say 'no' is not acceptable. Balance

--You can scream at the pool. Yes, it's outside. Yes, it's fun. But if you scream too much and the lifeguards think you're in trouble then you have problems. Balance

--You can eat at the pool. Yes, you may have just had a huge lunch or even just finished a snack, but walking into the pool area will immediately invoke the feeling of hunger. Food must go to the pool. And there must be enough to share. Balance.

--You can bring floatation devices to to the pool (well, some pools). This does not ensure your kids will not drown. You must watch your kids at all times even when they appear to be safe. Balance.

--You must have fun at the pool. Kids learn to swim to have fun and be safe. But many find learning to swim not fun.

We're getting our feet wet here in the first few weeks of summer. We're re-learning to rules of the pool and how to splash--but not too much; how to have fun--but without drowning; how to fill our bellies--but not too close to dinner; how to yell and scream--but not loud enough to make the guards jump in and save the kids.

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