Whine: My skin hates pool water. My eyes hate pool water. And apparently, from the odd way I couldn’t hear much for about twenty minutes, my ear hates pool water. And, of course, the only thing to do around here is swim.
Cheese: Everybody is VERY hydrated. Pool water counts, right?
In my former life, back in the long-ago era of gainful employment, I taught second grade. At random intervals throughout the school year we would be given the opportunity to take our learning outside the classroom for a field trip. People would usually assume that after being in the classroom day in and day out I’d relish the chance to change things up a little. To that I say HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!
Twenty-some-odd eight-year-olds running loose in the nicest music venue in the city then being forced to sit in actual seats for an actual performance the WHOLE TIME without pulling anyone’s hair or having to go to the bathroom or falling on the ground without explanation is actually not much of a change. Except if they fall out of their chairs (as they are prone to do) from the balcony, well, you get the idea. So a field trip really did nothing for me except up the ante and wear me out and give the children an even wider space in which to make mayhem.
And so when someone with small children says to me “I need a vacation from my vacation” I know exactly what they mean.
Just gearing up for a morning by the pool that is just out your back door is grueling. Most kids come when you call about as well as a deaf three-legged dog and stay still about as long as a hummingbird on uppers, so you can imagine that trying to coax them into yesterday’s wet swim shirts with the teeny tiny neckholes without pulling a muscle is virtually impossible. Then you spray $10 worth of sunscreen onto each appendage, thus making them expensive and slippery (i.e., even harder to catch) when they decide to run away. Finally, exasperated and exhausted you send each kid the direction of the pool and stack your arms full of PFDs. Life jackets, arm floaties, little rafts with leg holes that took all morning and a few episodes of hyperventilation to inflate. None of which they will wear for more than 90 seconds at a time, and especially not when they jump all kamikaze-like into the deep end when you are not looking.
Then you get to the pool/lake/dry creekbed and the real fun begins. Trying to man all battlestations at once is a little overwhelming, so the seasoned traveler knows this one very important rule. Bring reinforcements. If, for example, your beloved parenting partner cannot join you because he or she is too “busy” because they are “earning a living”, it is advised that you trick a friend or relative into “vacationing” along with you. Younger sisters who don’t yet have kids are preferable, as they have no idea what’s about to hit them and will come along gladly.
Once you and your trusty helper are in the specified body of water you can decide the best way to play it. A man-to-man defense will work so long as your child-adult ratio remains 1:1. Once you are outnumbered, switching to the zone will probably serve you better. One grown up in the deep end, eyes peeled for un-floatied jumpers. And one manning the stairs for Potty Emergencies (and not the pee kind, there’s no sense rushing to the pool restroom for pee since they will be done by the time you get there) or kids submerging deck chairs for their underwater tea parties or almost-five-year olds trying to ride in the baby float and getting their legs stuck in the leg holes.
After a few rounds of Chug The Pool Water alternated with The Swim Burps followed by Let’s Jump!Let’s Jump!Let’s Jump!, your little charges will begin to show signs of Swimming Fatigue. Evidenced primarily by nuclear meltdowns. For example, crying over the floatie they’ve been ignoring the whole time and now everybody needs all at once. Or extreme drama over getting a drop of pool water splashed into the eye/ear/mouth even though up until that point they’ve been voluntarily drinking the water and splashing it into their own faces. And finally, once your little redhaired swimmer’s arms and legs begin to match her hair, it’s best to get her out, rinse her off and start frying eggs on those shoulders, because swimming makes everybody hungry, doesn’t it?
And so you slide the PFDs onto your arms, grab a screaming swimmer with each hand and coax them into their dry clothes and naptime beds so they can get a head start on NOT SLEEPING. And you can get a head start on IGNORING THEM while you MAKE DINNER with the stovetop that refuses to heat up for twenty mintues then gets blazing-hot and scorches your grilled cheese/chicken breast/pancakes. And also the oven that seems like perhaps it was intended for foods that need to heat slowly at a low temperature, so it is less like an oven and more like a giant crock pot with a door, meaning you should have started dinner at 4:30 that morning. But what can you do? It’s Budget Travel at it’s best.
And so it’s a late, late dinner anticipated by ravenous little people who are biding their time by playing drums on their baby brother’s head and climbing on the dinner table all while your sister aka traveling companion looks on in abject horror wondering how on earth wild chimpanzees took over her nieces’ bodies. You finally win The Battle of the Stove and then sit down at the table they just climbed off of. Your little angel takes one look at the bounty they are about to receive and says (write this down, it’s a good one): “I wish we were at home so we could go to a fancy restaurant.”
At that moment you choose to laugh. Hysterically. Or maniacally. And then you begin to relax as you silently pray the prayer that you are now sure your parents prayed over you for years and years. “Please Lord, let their children do unto them as they have done unto me. Amen.”
Below you will find the ubiquitous Summer Vacation Photos. Just be glad I’m not inviting you over for dessert and setting up my slide projector.