By MATT WIXON
In March, my 5-year-old son, Ryan, and nearly-3-year-old son, Cooper, began asking if it was warm enough to go swimming. On Memorial Day weekend, I took them to the pool for the first swim of the summer.
It started with getting the towels, boogie board, pool noodle float thing, hats, goggles, two cups of water and Spider-Man dive toy. Then we waved goodbye to my wife, who was staying home with our 4-month-old son, and began the two-block trip to the neighborhood pool.
Here’s a diary of the swimming debut. Times are estimated, of course, but the names haven’t been changed to protect the innocent. My sons are very sweet, but not always that innocent.
Five minutes into trip: Cooper steers his big wheel off the sidewalk and into a front lawn. I position the big wheel back on the sidewalk, but he says his legs are tired from all the pedaling he did to move the bike about 100 feet. I push the big wheel the rest of the way to the pool.
Fifteen minutes into trip: We arrive at the pool, Ryan and Cooper get off their bike and big wheel, and we walk to a shady spot to put our things down on a table. I hear Cooper begin crying behind me, turn and find him sitting on the ground and rubbing his head. “He ran into THIS,” Ryan said, pointing to a large wooden support beam for the shade structure. I guess Cooper was looking to his left at the pool and smacked into the beam. When you have kids, you come to expect this.
Twenty minutes into trip: After deciding to try the “little pool” first – there is a deep pool and a shallow wading pool – we put our toes in the water. Cooper, having recovered from the first of several boo-boos he suffers daily, proclaims that the water is “not hot.” Oh no, it’s not hot. It’s coooooold. But Ryan plows in like it’s a relaxing warm bath and begins crouching down and splashing his arms as he walks from one end of the pool to the other. “Look Dad, I’m swimming,” he says. It reminds me of when I was a kid and would hold on to the wall at the skating rink, move about three feet per minute, and think “I’m skating!”
Twenty-five minutes into trip: Everything is going well now. Ryan is splashing around in the little pool and Cooper is busy noticing a couple of insects that are at the bottom of the pool. “I think they’re scared,” he says.
Thirty minutes into trip: Cooper is walking around, splashing, smiling broadly. He loves swimming, he says.
Thirty-one minutes into trip: Cooper loses his footing in the two-foot-deep water and falls forward, becoming submerged in the water for nearly one second before I grab him and lift him up. He’s done swimming, he says. Not for today -- FOREVER. He doesn’t want to swim again. He wants to go home.
Thirty-five minutes into trip: Cooper is once again willing to go into the pool if I hold him. We go to the big pool, where I float him around on the boogie board and he asks me to save various insects by fishing them out of the pool. Ryan dives for the Spider-Man sinker toy and asks me to watch every time. Cooper again loves swimming and wants to jump in from the side of the pool so I can catch him. Ryan wants a turn, too.
Fifty minutes into trip: I notice that the only other people at the pool, a group of six women in their forties and fifties, seem to be staring at us. Maybe the noise of my boys laughing and talking is bothering them. It’s 11 a.m., before most people use the pool, so maybe the women expected to be alone.
Sixty minutes into trip: Cooper says he needs to go to the bathroom. I tell Ryan he must get out of the pool and come with us because he can’t swim if I’m not watching. We go into the bathroom and I tell the boys not to touch anything. If they do, I think to myself, there might not be enough disinfectant in the world to save them. Cooper decides he doesn’t need to pee and can wait until we get home. Thank goodness.
Sixty-one minutes into trip: I tell Ryan and Cooper that we only have about 10 more minutes until we need to head for home. They want to play in the playground area next to the pool, and I say that’s fine. But first we need to dry off and pick up all the pool stuff. “Remember to put your goggles in the bag,” I tell Ryan.
Sixty-five minutes into trip: As we approach the gate to enter the playground, I notice that one of the women is sunbathing and is either wearing a thong bikini or has rolled up her bikini to make sure that all of her rear gets tanned. Her rear, not the most attractive one you’ll ever see, is only about 25 feet away and pointed toward the playground. I can already hear what Ryan will be saying: “Dad, she’s not wearing any pants!”
Sixty-six minutes into trip: Before the boys see Ms. Slightly Overweight Full-Bum Tanner, I turn them away and say, “Oh darn … it says they sprayed for mosquitoes here and the playground is closed today.” Ryan, who can read pretty well for a 5-year-old, asks me to point to the sign that says this. I see a code written on the slide – probably the part number or something – and tell Ryan that’s what the code means. It’s a really lame, implausible explanation. Thank goodness Ryan is only 5 years old.
Seventy minutes into trip: We are on our way home. Ryan yells to me, “Dad, we forgot my goggles.” I point out that they are hanging around his arm.
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