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Wednesday, June 20, 2012

On Going to the Pool

I hate taking my kids to the pool. As in, I. Hate. It. I know this makes me a terrible mother. Summertime is supposed to be about flip flops and chlorine and the faint whiff of sunscreen. I know. I KNOW.  But come on. If you have young kids of your own or have seen someone at the pool with toddler-age kids, you must be aware that the effort required by a mother to get to the pool is not in any way, shape or form equivalent to the pleasure received from being at the pool.

All around me my friends are proclaiming the glories of summer. Breathlessly anticipating time at the pool or God forbid, a trip to the beach.  What do these women know that I don't? The emperor has no clothes ladies. Pardon my French - but going to the pool sucks. Don't even get me started on the beach.

Last week I fell under the summertime spell and decided that a trip to the pool was just the thing we needed to break up the monotony. The pool opens at 11 - which meant preparatory activities began at 10. First up - the sunscreen dance. This is the part where you have to locate and strip down your children, hold them in one place and rub creamy white goo all over their tiny bodies so their tender skin doesn't fry under the withering sunshine. It's recommended to do this at least 20-30 minutes before sun exposure. My kids hate this part of pool-prep, so I'm always prepared for battle. Sunscreen makes kids slippery, so the more success you achieve, the harder this activity becomes. It's maddening.

Naturally I'm already dressed and ready to go - wearing the very latest in post-partum pool attire (wink wink) and having generously slathered myself in SPF 50 as well.  Of course I can't reach my back on my own, so I'm prepared to burn - anything for the children.

I also need to be sure to have plenty of snacks and drinks so that we can stay at the pool for longer than 45 minutes. Something nutritious and easily eaten without utensils, preferably not too sticky, crumbly or messy. Organic carrot sticks and homemade hummus would be ideal. I'll just pop that into my small, lightweight cooler with padded shoulder strap (I am after all, the only sherpa coming on this trek. Did we go over that part?)

At long last we arrive at the pool. I unbuckle car seats, grab my purse, diaper bag, slow-walking 18 month old and small, lightweight cooler and trek across the blazing asphalt towards that beacon of happiness - The Pool. I hand my passes to the teenage gatekeeper who interrogates me on the number and type of swim diapers I've brought with me before letting us pass.

Oh yes....The Swim Diaper. Nemesis of toddler mamas worldwide. Pool diapers are ridiculous. They are marketed as enabling your child to pee and/or do #2 while swimming in a public pool without contaminating the water. Yet I and every other mother know that putting a swim diaper on your child any sooner than one millisecond before your kid hits the water means they will pee instantly and a swim diaper can only handle one tiny little pee before it's rendered useless. And a #2?! Let's not even go there.

Back to our arrival - after a quick scan of the crowded deck, it is obvious that ONLY ONE LOUNGE CHAIR REMAINS. The kids make a break for it and we all squeeze together on the sun-scorched plastic slats to unload our gear. Out come towels, off with shoes, I pull on swim diapers, tug up suits and re-lather faces with sunscreen before giving the blessing to enter the water.

Are you still with me? This adventure has only just begun...

Inevitably, 5 minutes after the kids start swimming the whistle blows and it's time for adult swim. At 11am on a Tuesday morning we need to have Adult Swim? At the YMCA. Seriously? Every mother drags her kids out of the water and we all huddle at the fountain splash pad until the break is over.

Repeat the above scene twice- stopping to do the sunscreen dance at least one more time- and it is noon. Time for some food and a potty break. Trying to get Squirt's swim diaper (yes he's fully potty-trained, but again, the swim diaper is required by the teenagers at the gate) down off his bum and back up his pool-wet legs again is an exercise in patience and self-control. And what's that face Sweet B is making?? OH NO. Noooooooooooooooo. She's pooping. In the swim diaper. Awesome. Now I have to take both children and a diaper bag to the tiny pool bathroom stall, get a wet swim suit off my girl, continually admonish Squirt NOT TO TOUCH ANYTHING, clean her hiney and get a fresh swim diaper on. Have we talked about the humidity levels in this tiny little poolside bathroom? On par with a rain forest.

Two hours into this performance I'm cooked, the kids are looking a little too-pink and I decide it's time to surrender. A mom with older kids might just throw towels at them and trek back to the car -but a toddler mom must prepare for nap time. I change the kids out of their swimsuits and of course - swim diapers - and put them back in regular clothes again. Never mind doing this for myself, I'll just deal with a wet butt in the car.

Mercifully we're home 15 minutes later. The tots have fallen asleep in the car, so I lug them off to their beds and collapse on the couch - my hair a tangled mess, my cover-up plastered against a lobster-red back. I pray for long naps and drift off to dreamland with the kids (never a given despite the morning's madness). 

And so dear friends if you call and invite me and my brood to the pool one of these days, please don't be offended if I decline. We'll be playing in the sprinkler for the rest of summer.



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