The scent of sunscreen is strong, complemented by the chlorine-pool smell that is unmistakeably summer. For my children, I know the summer means the pool. And as we walked in for the first time yesterday morning on the opening day for this season, I knew that summer had officially started, no matter how many days of school remain.
My kids are on the neighborhood swim team, so we’re at the pool for practice every morning. I love hanging out and watching them swim for a few hours while the day is still relatively cool, then coming home for lunch and a few hours of playing here at the house, then going back to the pool in the evening when Matt gets home from work.
I am not a swimmer, but their little bodies are so comfortable in the water, conditioned after years of summer swim to move confidently and lithely across the water. Even after a winter out of the pool, they jumped in yesterday and showed how little they forget. It amazes me every time I watch them compete that my babies can slice so efficiently through the water, stroke after stroke, knowing exactly when to breathe and how to turn until they hit the wall with two hands and come up breathing hard–after all, they are still tiny, aren’t they? Shouldn’t they still be hanging on the wall with swimmies on, scared to put their faces into the water all the way?
The youngest learned to swim last summer at age 3…but it seems that a winter out of water has made him forget his ability. He jumped in yesterday and immediately floundered, two feet from the steps, unable to make it to the wall. And so I had to jump in too–and let me say, the water, it was cold. I scooped him out and reminded him to kick and paddle and he spent the rest of the day “swimming” on the steps as I sat on the edge of the pool with my legs dangling in the frigid water, with the realization that we are not yet at the point where mommy can sit on a lounge chair and relax while the kids play in the pool. Maybe next year.
I’m okay with that though, because Q still needs me. So I will spend another summer in the shallow end as he jumps off the wall and swims in ever-increasing distances to me, until the day when he jumps in and swims right past me, and doesn’t need me in there at all.
The big kids, though, I barely see once we walk through the gates. B and her friends truly believe that the pool is their own–they walk laps around the perimeter in their bright ruffly bathing suits, talking and giggling. They dive in, swimming circles around each other. They wait in line to jump off the diving boards, timing it so they can do matching jumps side-by-side. I can see them in 5, 8, 10 years…and I doubt they’ll be doing much differently. The big boys, they find their friends, or they immediately make new ones, and spend as much time throwing a tennis ball off the concrete wall playing “pickle” as they do swimming. Last summer, G figured out how to do a flip off the diving board, so I suspect some time this year will be spent perfecting that technique again.
All that is to say, the pool is open finally, and all’s right with the world. Summer is here.