Poolside summers | Living with Gleigh
By GRETCHEN LEIGH
Covington Reporter Columnist
May 13, 2012 · 8:52 PM
Last week my neighbor and I were doing the neighborly thing and chatting over the fence about the upcoming hot weather. Then she said, “Remember when the kids would be outside playing in little swimming pool all day?” Aahh, simpler times; the days when the kids were small, had less of an opinion and finding them a pool of water made me a good parent.
We started out with a small, round, plastic garage sale find. It had a little slide in it about the length of a small child, with the actual pool barely big enough for an adult; an adequate challenge for my tots. It sat outside all year around filling with rain water until my husband or I would happen by and dump it out.
One sunny, spring day I went out to find my youngest daughter, who was about two, fully clothed, sitting at the top of the slide, pouring water over herself from a plastic cup. Fortunately, the pool had only a puddle in its bottom, but it was enough for my little girl to saturate her blue jeans, long sleeve shirt and diaper.
When they outgrew that first pool, we upgraded to a unique one I found in a catalog. It was about ten feet in diameter and two feet deep. Unlike a normal blow-up pool, it had a frame constructed out of PVC piping that included a shaded cover, with the body of the pool made out of tough vinyl. We weren’t worried about it popping, so it could handle several small neighborhood children at once, plus one or two overheated adults.
Although it did completely disassemble, it was bulky. But that did not deter us from taking it with us when we went to the Yakima car show we attend every August. We’d set it up in the camping area and my kids would spend the days splashing around like whales. My husband and I were not above taking a dip in it when we got overheated. It was also an attraction for other car show friends to “sit by the pool” and chat while cooling their legs; even at the risk of being splashed by the resident “whales.”
When the kids outgrew this pool it wasn’t because they were too big, but because it wasn’t enough entertainment for them. Gone were the days when just splashing around in the water was enough.
I didn’t really blame them. When I was a kid my grandparents had an in-ground swimming pool. My sister and I would spend two or three weeks with them in the summer. We spent hours in the pool and never got bored. Then one summer my sister, who is two years older than I, got a job. I was about 14 years old. I couldn’t imagine not going to my grandparent’s house, so I went alone. But once there, I no idea what it was I used to do in the pool and I never spent the summer with them again.
That was about the time the Renton water park opened for business. I bought a family pass and committed to the four-hour afternoon sessions almost every day. The first summer my kids had a blast, so I figured we’d repeat it the following summer. I bought another family pass, we went to a couple sessions and they started to lose interest. We’d be there an hour and they’d be ready to go home or worse yet, they wanted money for the concession stand.
The same thing happened with the lakes they swam at when we’d go camping. They used to spend hours playing in the lake, now it takes an act of congress to get them into the lake. When they do finally get in they are out in a matter of minutes. “It’s too cold!” They complain. I know some of the lakes around here are literally glacial, but they were just as glacial when they were small and we couldn’t drag them out in those days.
My daughters are now a little older than my sister and I were when my sister got that first summer job. I have quit trying to find a new body of water for them to while away their summer days. But I still long for those simple summer days, when all I needed to be a good parent was a pool of water.
Gretchen Leigh is a stay-at-home mom who lives in Covington. She is committed to writing about the humor amidst the chaos of a family. You can read more of her writing and her daily blog on her website livingwithgleigh.com.Contact Covington Reporter Columnist Gretchen Leigh at email@example.com.