I moved my chair at the pool today.
This may sound like a relatively minor accomplishment. Pool chairs aren’t known for being heavy. Moving it isn't a crime. I didn’t steal it. It is still in the shade – an absolute requirement to keep the goats at bay, but I moved it nonetheless.
Why is this a blog worthy? Simple. It means my kids have grown up again.
When I joined the town pool, it was during the month of August. My little guy was potty trained so I avoided baby pool jail entirely. Our pool is shaped like the letter L. The short part of the letter never gets deeper than three and a half feet. For the entire month of August, my little guy played on the stairs, splashing in two feet of water, happy as a clam. He brought in toys, played well with others, but he never, ever got off of those steps. I set up my chair directly in front of him and neither of us moved for a month. The pool is empty at that time of year as everyone is finally free of swim team obligations and rushes off to vacations and the shore. We were very happy in our little corner of the world. My daughter, always more adventurous and a far better swimmer, happily frolicked in the rest of that section, never once crossing the rope lines into the longer part of the el, where the pool water deepens to eight feet.
The following year we joined the pool for the entire summer. My daughter earned the ability to cross the barrier and even venture into the diving well. While she still had to tell me when she left one pool to go to the other, she was free to swim by herself. My son moved off the steps, but stayed firmly in the three foot section. Only once did he venture into three and a half foot territory and it scared the bejesus out of him. So that was another summer where I could be found firmly planted in the same chair, under the same tree, enjoying the same shade.
Last year, my daughter earned her green band the first day the pool opened and I pretty much set her free to roam the grounds at will. She checked in from time to time to ask for money for the snack stand or to find out which friends were on their way, but otherwise, she was on her own. My son’s friends were starting to earn the ability to swim in the big pool, but he still needed to be accompanied by an adult. I sent my husband in whenever possible. Nothing amused me more than to see him being attacked by multiple small children at once. On hot days, I even deigned to go in and play with the kids myself. But for the most part, my little guy was still pretty happy in his own little fiefdom in the short el.
Oh, how things have changed. This year, my daughter started sunning herself on a towel on the grassy hill “just like the big girls” and I thought my husband was going to have a heart attack. She has started bringing her own money to the pool and disappears for hours. (Truthfully, I can stand up and see her from anywhere since I make damn sure she has the brightest suits there. She enjoys the illusion of freedom; I enjoy the illusion of proper parenting. It works out well for both of us.) My son decided that it was time to earn his band and move into the longer part of the el. All of his buddies can swim in that section and since I prefer reading and gossiping to actually swimming, his patience has run out. No longer does he want to beg for me to come in with him, or hope that one of the big kids is willing to stay with him while he plays. Oh no. His time is now. So he took the test, swimming two laps and then treading water for a minute. Viola! No child was happier to slip a yellow cord around their ankle than mine. (He still isn’t ready for the diving well, thank God.)
So now, I have to move my chair. No longer can I sit in my corner by the steps and watch him splash happily. No longer can I watch him play in the short section, happy among his peers. Nope, now I have to face the long el, the big pool, the one filled with teenagers taking selfies underwater, and tweens doing cannonballs, and the older folks gamely doing laps. He still isn’t the strongest swimmer and until he gets more comfortable in the deep end, I am going to be keeping a well-trained eye on him because that yellow band doesn’t make him invincible, no matter what he thinks. So if you are looking for me, I’m now facing an entirely different direction. I’ve moved my chair. Care to join me?