Nearly every afternoon in the summer, you can find me in the pool. Not at the pool. In the pool. With 8 kids lined up waiting patiently to jump to me. Or 5 boys practicing the sweep the leg move from Karate Kid as they try to dunk me. These kids range in age from 3 to 8 and sometimes I don’t know half of them. I’m “the pool lady.”
Last year, there was a woman stretched out languidly on her chaise lounge, flipping through a magazine, in the area I affectionately call the “adult” section. You know – the place where people go to relax and read and get a suntan. The place you go when your kids start insisting on sitting at their own table. Far away. The place where dreams go to die as far as I’m concerned. She looked up at me as one of the boys tackled me in the water, smiled a bless-your-heart kind of smile, and said “don’t worry, you’ll be over here with us soon enough.”
Um no thanks.
See, I actually like playing in the pool with kids.
Don’t get me wrong – winter clothes are more my milieu. They cover a lot. Bathing suits don’t. But I just don’t care. I would rather be goofing around in the pool looking like a drowned walrus than doing just about anything.
I love that they can’t even wait for me to put on sunscreen before they’re begging me to get in. I love throwing them in the air for so long that I dislocate my shoulder. I love having contests to see which kid can splash me the most with their jumps. I love racing them to the other side of the pool only to miraculously lose at the last second. I love hearing 5 kids shout “watch me, look at me!” all at the same time as they do handstands and underwater acrobatics. I love doing cannonballs off the diving board. I love having conversations with my friends that are continually interrupted by the splashing and squealing of our children around us. I love it all.
Maybe it’s because I’m a 5 year old at heart. Maybe because I spent my teens and twenties reading magazines and working on my tan and realized it’s not nearly as much fun as having kids dive off your shoulders. Maybe it’s because I know there will be a time when they won’t want me anymore. When they would rather play sharks and minnows with their friends. When they will splash 15 year old girls instead of me. When they won’t shout out “look at me! watch me!” every five seconds.
So you couldn’t pay me to give up a single second of this now.
A couple of weeks ago, the lifeguards blew their whistle at the top of the hour, signifying the dreaded “adult swim.” All of the kids I was playing with dutifully got out and headed over to the steps to wait. But one of them stopped, turned around befuddled, and said “Wait. Cameron, why do you get to stay in?”
I laughed and said “contrary to popular belief, I am actually an adult.”
She shook her head in disbelief and went off to find her towel.
Best. Compliment. Ever.