Throughout the winter, I dream of summer when we are free from boots and coats and gloves, and we are unencumbered by socks and sweaters. But summer brings its own packing list including water bottles, towels and sunscreen. I forget how heavy two stainless steel thermoses filled with water are. As I swing my canvas pool bag over my shoulder, the straps dig into my bare shoulder, and as soon as I’ve closed to the door to the air-conditioned mini-van, a humid wall hits my face, and I instantly start to sweat. I’m determined to get to the pool regardless of the load I’m carrying or how cranky I’ve become in the few seconds since leaving the car.
Last year, we rarely went to the pool. Watching two small boys who couldn’t swim while I tried to divide my time between two pools was a logistical nightmare. I did my best to convince them that staying at home playing in the inflatable pool was the better option. This year, Asher is more confident in the water though he is far from being a strong swimmer. And, as long as Levi can wear a life vest, he is happy to paddle furiously along side of me.
On Sunday, Gabriella joined the boys and me South Orange pool. It almost feels like I’m on vacation when Gabriella is home and able to lend a hand with the packing and the schlepping. Occasionally, I’ll even sit on a lounge chair while Gabriella is in the pool with the boys, and if I squeeze my eyes shut tightly enough, I can almost convince myself that I’m there by myself if only for a few minutes. I try not to stare at the adults who have been sitting poolside reading a book for hours. I know the day will come when I can lose myself in a novel while my kids entertain themselves in the pool, but for now, the pool is not a relaxing experience.
I take that back. The pool is not a relaxing experience except for the 15 minutes of Adult Swim instituted this summer on the weekends. Twice a day, a divine voice takes over the speaker system and announces that all children must leave the pool. “Sorry boys,” I say with a faux sad-face. “You have to sit in the chairs so that the grown ups can have time in the pool alone.” I don’t tell them that Adult Swim is optional. We could sit it out with them if we chose. Instead, we present Adult Swim as a commandment; a mitzvah as if Moses delivered the word of God from Mount Sinai. “Adults shalt spend at least 15 minutes of each day without children even if they have to stand waste-deep in a public pool clustered with other adults while they have an actual conversation and their children whimper in lounge chairs.”
The boys are not happy about Adult Swim. “You’re not even swimming,” Asher observed. “You’re right,” I reply. “They should call it something else. I guess it’s easier to call it ‘Adult Swim’ than ‘Adult Swim or Chat or Ignore You’.” He does not find my answer satisfying or funny. I’ve been cursed with a child who does not find me the least bit entertaining.
Fifteen minutes may not seem a long time to you, but it’s 15 minutes of bliss for me. Until my kids can swim on their own, buy ice cream at the concession stand with their own money that they saved from doing chores and carry their own crap, I’m going to savor every second of those 15 minutes. Thank you, Pool God, for commanding me to find a sliver of alone time even if I have to get into a bathing suit and an unheated pool to do it.