The sun is out, the kids are ready. Their sunscreen’s applied, goggles are on and you’ve got a bag full of waterguns and snacks. It’s pool day! Who doesn’t love a day lounging by the pool, really? But before you romanticize your afternoon by picturing yourself immersed in a gossip magazine with a frozen drink in your hand without a care in the world, remember these 10 things that always happen at the pool with kids…
1. You will never have applied enough sunscreen. There’s all kinds of it, now – sprays, lotions, gels. There are ‘waterproof’ formulas that claim kids can stay in the water for hours without needing to re-apply. Still, you’ll re-apply. And still, your child will end up with a goggle-shaped paleness pattern around their eyes, outlined in firey red. And then you will be judged by the legions of professional sunscreen applicator parents whose alabaster-skinned children ate organic kale salad for lunch.
2. Speaking of sunscreen, you’ll fret about the aerosol kind. Every year, there’s some new story in the news about sunscreens that are deemed unsafe or probably unsafe or yeah-you-might-as-well-just-slather-your-kid-in-Crisco-if-you’re-gonna-use-that-brand. Sprays are particularly under fire, not only because some reports say they can cause more harm than good, but because when you spray, it gets everywhere. The person sitting next to you will glare at you as a waft of 50SPF comes at them like an Arizona haboob. Your child will complain because some got in their mouth. Meh, you’re just doin’ your job, moms and dads.
3. There will be a game of Marco Polo. Or, its newer, updated version: Hashtag, YOLO (yes, this is a real thing, my son played it the other day in the pool with his friends and I nearly choked on my drink when I realized what they were saying). Either one of these games has the same concept: One person swims around with their eyes closed, shouting “MARCO!” (or “HASHTAG!”) while trying to locate the others who are swimming away from the seeker, shouting, “POLO!” (or “YOLO!”) to indicate where they are. It’s super fun for the kids, but when you’re trying to read or carry a conversation, it ranks pretty highly on the ear-grating scale. And then, of course, you have to concern yourself with the adults at the pool who didn’t come with kids and who surely don’t appreciate the game going on for an eternity. It’s very stressful.
4. Your child will make friends with an adult in the pool and it will make you nervous. Not necessarily because you don’t trust the clearly perfectly normal adult (although there’s always that thought, too), but because you’ll stress that your kid is bugging them as they pepper away with questions: “Wanna watch me bellyflop? Can you time me from this side of the pool to the other? Will you throw this torpedo so I can go find it? Did you see my somersault?” You’ll feel like a very disengaged parent watching from the sidelines, but hey – you could use a break. Go with it.
5. There will be rude kids in the pool with your kid. Don’t you love how children are so good at making friends? My son sees a kid his age and instantly goes up with, “Hi! Wanna be my friend?” I wish adults did this more often, it would be a far better world. That said, be prepared for the kid that says, “No thanks” to your sweet baby’s offer of friendship. Or the one who won’t let your kid join in their game. Get that stink-eye ready, moms and dads, and hope that other parents will encourage their kids to be kind.
6. You’ll worry about drowning – and secondary drowning. Even if the deepest part of the pool is only four feet deep, you’ll fret if you don’t see your little one’s head bobbing around with everyone else’s. Or if they suck up some water unintentionally and start coughing. There are always stories about secondary drownings, too, where a child seems fine at first, but then later took a turn for the worse. As such, your worries will continue well into the evening hours as you eagle-eye your kid for symptoms like ‘fatigue’ but then rationalize your child is just tired from swimming all day.
7. You’ll be asked to swim, too. Hey, I happen to love swimming, myself. But there are times I don’t feel like playing cops and robbers or Dolphin/Minnow (my son first called this game Whale and Minnow and you can guess how long that lasted). There are times you’ll just want to stand there with your face soaking up some serious Vitamin D. There are days when your hair is very important and mustn’t be squirted, doused, or otherwise splashed in any way. This will not compute for your children, and y’know what, they’re probably right. You can always wash it…again.
8. Someone will stub a toe, scrape an elbow, or get stung by a bee. And you won’t have a band-aid with you. Or in your car. Always pack band-aids. You are welcome.
9. Then, there’s the bathroom. Oh, the bathroom. It will not be pretty, people. It will not. There will be masses of wet toilet paper goo on the floor. There will be no discerning between pool water and urine in the bathroom stall. It will be a mess, and you will have to deal with it – that’s assuming your kids didn’t decide to just go in the pool. And this is a perfect segue to number ten…
10. Your child will not be able to re-dress themselves. It doesn’t matter what kind of swimsuit they’re wearing. Boys will not be able to pull up their wet trunks. Girls will not get their suit back up. There will be lots of whining, shimmying, shoving and otherwise shoe-horning your child back into their wet swim clothes. Can someone please get to work on a material that only gets more slippery when hit with chlorine? Right?