My nerves are on edge when we arrive, if I'm being honest.  I tend to let our pathological inability to remember to bring enough beach towels convince me of my unfitness as a mother.  But the day is sunny and we are here now, and the swimming pool is no place for issues (at least, not for those of us on either side of puberty).

We do our ritual sunscreen coating; it's an exercise in futility, if the brown shoulders I rub are any indication.

The dull splish of hundred stray splashes almost drowns out the radio over the loudspeakers.  It's Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam (flashback!), and I sing along.  The ten year old notices, and it's clear he doesn't know whether to be embarrassed or impressed.

The eight year old wanders off to the snack bar, his dollar bill burning a hole in the Ziploc baggie in the beach bag.  He comes back sucking a giant blue Ring Pop.  His grin is satisfied, snaggle-toothed and, now, completely blue.  He shows me the slobbery mess and tells me that he'll buy me a real ring just like it, someday, when he's a famous soccer player.

The younger kids lure me into the water.  The heat index is well over 100, yet the water, impossibly, is 18 degrees.  I feel very old; the kids easily maneuver, completely relaxed, while my cold muscles fight off shock.

In one of those moments that can't be explained, the four year old suddenly finds her courage.  Yesterday she was in floaties, today she's doing back flips underwater.  She surfaces with a proud and watery grin.  She glows at my praise; she glows even more at her big brother's praise.

I climb back out and dry off, noticing that our (one) beach towel smells like a curious blend of fabric softener and chlorine.

The younger kids climb in and out, wearing a trail between the water, the snack bar, the bathrooms, and my lounge chair, where they visit often for my help in the arbitration of many diving-ring-related disputes. The ten year old engineers a game of Marco Polo with an impressively large crowd.  The eight year old masters the diving board, getting nervier with every jump. The youngest dashes over to the kiddie pool and smugly reminds her brothers they're too big to join her.  The oldest finds a lounge chair of his own, at a distance suitable for his twelve-ishness.  I smile at him, but only occasionally, and with low expectations.  He smiles back.  That's enough for me.

I sit and watch the four of them, wishing I had four sets of eyes–and an unlimited summer–to take it all in.

30 thoughts on “Poolside

  1. Becky says:

    Maybe because I’m pregnant, but I’m in tears (again). . .
    You are right on, as always!
    Life really flies by so fast, and I too wish for the “unlimited summer” and four set of eyes to take it all in. 🙂

  2. k&c's mom says:

    You captured life by the pool in the summer with multiple children. I miss it! My beach towel problem was that Mom (me) always got the oldest towel by default. Pick the oldest Disney movie at the time, and that threadbare towel with no ability to absorb water any longer was mine. The last one I had was Aladdin. Miss the my now adult children as kids and I even miss the blue genie.

  3. sandy says:

    I’ve had similar glimpses as of late. One was last night, sitting around in the living room. Now that my kids are older, I don’t seem to be out by the pool with them anymore. Maybe I’m missing out … 🙂 Happy Day, Shannon! Thank you for sharing!

  4. Vicki says:

    Ok, were you watching me at the pool? Because you just explained our trips to the pool – right down to the dollar in the Ziploc in the pool bag!!! LOL!!!
    Thanks for the laugh!!! 🙂

  5. mimi2seven says:

    What a beautiful picture of summer fun…..brings back so many memories….of being a kid and being a mom!

  6. Donnetta says:

    I could almost feel the wet children dripping on me as they stood over me talking while I sit in a chair poolside trying to dry off. 🙂
    What a fantastic post. (as always). Sounds like you are taking time to treasure and capture the moments and memories of summer!

  7. amanda says:

    amazing… what a day. don’t you just LOVE being a mother? and you’re a great one, don’t even let those thoughts in, thats not from the lord!!!!

  8. Kathy C. says:

    What a fun post..I can smell the chlorine and I almost wanted to squint my eyes as I imagined the hot sun beaming down across the shimmery water in the pool. 🙂
    Have a beautiful day.

  9. Iva @ Horizontal Yo-Yo says:

    You make it sound so romantic! In reality, I’m a nervous wreck because I don’t have strong swimmers, although they’ll tell you they KNOW how to swim…they really don’t. AT least not enough to quiet the Mom Beast in me.

  10. Ann Kroeker says:

    We often fail to bring adequate towels, too (notice I said “we” in order to put the blame on all of us, not just my own unfit-mother-self).
    I love summer. I love being at the pool, listening to the ’80s station. Like you, I can impress my crew by singing every lyric. And my own ring-pop-colored kids beg for extra change when the ice cream truck rolls up. You captured it all–in present tense, even!

  11. Allison says:

    I’m a first time commenter, but a long time lurker, and this post made me so nostalgic! I grew up in northeastern Oklahoma, and I can remember countless summer days spent at the pool, making tracks to the snack bar (my favorites were the giant soft Sweetarts), becoming increasinly more daring with each jump from the diving board, teasing my brother and sister in the kiddie pool from afar because I was too big. Thanks for the trip down memory lane!

  12. Sandra says:

    …. and the book you bring along to have some mum time, which has done more miles than a postie yet never gets opened.
    Plenty time for reading later.

  13. Jill says:

    I read this yesterday morning and then spent the afternoon at the pool with my 3 and laughed at how you hit the nail on the head with this post.
    We no sooner got the sunscreen on their little bodies and the youngest was already asking what snack would be getting that day!
    I did finally bring a book along and read for a little bit of me time while they were all playing together…Terri Blackstock’s Double Minds. Great Read

  14. Heidi says:

    We just opened our pool. I won’t go in until the temp of the water reaches about 89*, but I love watching the neighbor kids splish splash, as well as my teenaged dau. and her friends.
    Very refreshing post.

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