Aw, that's so great! she said. I'm just picturing you and Braden and Casey walking arm in and arm and playing and splashing in the water. So cute!
I laughed. It's not quite like that. I told her. No, it's not quite like that at all.
Our neighborhood pool is 4 houses down from our house. It's convenient, inviting, and a great place for the neighborhood kids to gather. When the summer arrives in full force in the DC area, it becomes a staple of our day.
But man, is it an exertion of energy.
Lets break it down:
Step 1: The Preparation (Approximately 25 minutes)
We don't just get to decide that we want to go to the pool and then go. Noooooooooooo. Instead, a lengthy preparation must take place.
First, I get myself ready. This is the easiest step of the process. Suit, coverup, sunscreen, done.
Then I make the announcement to the children. Who wants to go to the pool? The boys usually always say yes, but when it sinks in that they must cease whatever activity they are currently engaged in (playing downstairs, playing outside, torturing one another or the dog), they aren't happy. It takes a few minutes to get them rallied and in one room.
Once I do, I fetch Braden's bathing suit and plead with him to put it on himself (which he is perfectly capable of but usually refuses to do). I bribe, I reason, I threaten, and 9 times out of ten I end up dressing him myself. I do it quickly, slather on sunscreen, and then turn to Casey.
Casey, my needier child at the moment, requires a bit more energy. First, there's the swim diaper, which inevitably gets stuck and twisted and turned around somewhere at his hips. I then put on his bathing suit and turn to the sunscreen. My God, that kid hates sunscreen. I basically pin him down on all fours and smother it over his entire body, with him thrashing and screaming the whole time. There's snot, there's tears, there's major defiance By the time I am done, only half of the sunscreen is sufficiently rubbed in, I am sweating, and my ponytail has somehow been removed. I usually don't put it back in.
At this point, I pack the pool bag. Why I don't pack this bag before the kids are ready and rearing to go and screaming at me to open the front door, I cannot say. I run around frantically, looking for towels, kickboards, bottled water, pool passes, sunglasses, phone, and cash. Usually at least two of these items are left behind.
Then, we are on our way. We rush, so that I can make it to the pool before Casey pees in his swim diaper, meriting a turn around. (On a completely different note, what is up with those things providing no absorbency whatsoever? What the hell is the point of them?).
Step 2: Pool Time (Approximately 45 minutes)
Arriving at the pool is a shit show in and of itself. Upon seeing the water, both boys go crazy running and tearing off sunglasses and shoes. I in turn run after them, screaming No running! and tearing off my own clothes, in anticipation of having to jump in the water to rescue one or both of them.
Luckily, the pool we go to has a fenced in kids' area, so they can't run too far. But my kids seem to be missing that gene where they are able to FEEL ANY KIND OF COLD WATER, so they are all about jumping right in, literally. I, accordingly, must do the same, and I don't do it gracefully. I scream, I shiver, I do that thing where I wipe my shoulders with the cold water before fully submerging myself in the water, as if that's going to help.
Since there is two of them and one of me, I have to constantly weigh who is worth sacrificing at a given moment. Usually that sacrificial child is Braden, as he has greater swimming ability and (usually) better judgment. Out of necessity, I let him go and hope for the best. I give the lifeguard a knowing nod and a smile as to say, Work with me here.
Casey, on the other hand, is at the stage where he doesn't understand the concept of depth or breathing or water generally. He will walk right in to the deep water, head submerged. He will jump in from the side of the pool, and sink down slowly. I tend to let him do these things initially, as I want him to learn that he CAN'T DO THESE THINGS. So far, that lesson has not been learned. Instead, he throws a fit when he gets water in his nose, and then throws a fit when I refuse to allow him to continue to walk or jump into the deep water.
It is during these times that I remind myself, Oh yeah, I have another kid here. Braden! Braden! You okay, Braden? Or, he makes himself known anyway. Who is that annoying kid splashing water over everyone? Oh, that's Braden. You okay, Braden?
After about 45 minutes of this, the whistle is blown. Adult swim. I will leave you to guess how happy my kids are at being asked to leave the pool, because listen, boys, it's adult swim and you just have to.
Not happy at all.
I usually take that as my cue to leave. By that time, I am more than ready.
Step 3: Getting Home and Getting Clean (Approximately 25 minutes)
After I have wrestled with the children to leave the pool, and we have walked up the steady, gradual hill up to our house in the 90 degree weather, we reach my least favorite aspect of the pool going experience. The arrival back home.
I open the front door and the boys file into the air conditioned house and they both start whining and screaming about how cold they are. I immediately start to peel off their wet bathing suits, which is really, really, hard, given that boys nowadays wear those swim shirts that stick to their skin like, well, water.
Once they are disrobed and naked, they tend to run around the house laughing and screaming while I high tail it to the bathroom to start the bath. While the bath fills, I gather the wet clothes and towels into a single pile by the front door (which usually is neglected and ends up sitting there overnight), or I clean up Casey's inevitable pee on the floor, which somehow always happens during my 30 second absence to start the bath. I bathe the kids, and get them dressed.
Immediately after the bath, they both start screaming for food, having worked up quite an appetite swimming. I scramble to make them a somewhat nutritious meal in as little time as possible. Once done, I realize that I am freezing cold, as I have not yet changed out of my wet bathing suit. I turn on the TV, sit the boys at the table, and finally go get into dry clothes. I table my shower until after the kids go to bed, if I get around to taking one at all.
Then I'm done.
And I'm exhausted.
And we do it all again the next day.
(Pictures taken from Summer 2012- I have not yet had the opportunity to break out the camera during this season's pool excursions).