Who You'll See At The Public Pool This Summer

by Joelle Wisler
Originally Published: 
Fox Photos/Stringer/Getty

Now that summer is finally, hopefully, for the love of all things hot and sunscreeny, here, we have been making the rounds at some popular public pools. Sometimes I find it fascinating to watch other people interact with their kids. This may mean that I don’t get out a whole lot.

Here are some variations of moms that I have seen at the public pool:

1. The Regulars

The swimming pool that you are at is their swimming pool, you just haven’t realized it yet. They come in small groups and set up shop at the prime sunny/shady spot with their matching fold-out chairs and their coordinated snacks and brightly colored towels, and eye you a little suspiciously if they don’t recognize you. They are together. You are clearly not in their togetherness with your raggedy bath towels and your chocolatey-faced children.

2. The Nannies (or “Au Pairs” if fanciness is required)

They often look as weary as any mother. One told me the other day, after she rehearsed an oddly mechanical phrase to the child she was watching, that she has a set “script” that she was supposed to say to get the children to stop doing something. I could tell that her heart wasn’t really in it though, and I think the little girl could too, because she kept right on pushing those other kids off the ladder to the slide like it was The Lord of the Flies.

3. The Fun Parent

This parent makes us all look bad, and I don’t like her very much. She lets the kid ride around on her back even though they are clearly choking her and she encourages games of tag where she actually tries to catch them and everything. And she brings swim noodles for chrissakes. Swim noodles. Her kids look pretty smug too, as if they know they had done something pretty great in a previous life to earn Fun Mom.

4. The Phone Parents

We all need to talk at some point, but there are some moms that literally spend the whole time on the phone at the side of the pool. It’s impressive. Their child is eating other people’s snacks, using my kid as a floaty, and clogging up the slide situation by trying to go up backwards … and Phone Parent is completely clueless.

5. The Toddler Plus New Infant Desperation Mom

She has a new baby snoozing at the side of the pool. She has a toddler wreaking havoc like a boss. She is lucky if her swimsuit is on in the right direction. She looks a little freaked out around the eyes. We’ve all been there. You may see her nodding off a bit as she sits down in the shallow end, and then gets startled awake when her toddler pokes her face with an errant swim noodle.

6. The Perfect Parent

Ugh. Almost as annoying as the Fun Mom. I look at Perfect Parent and mentally berate myself for not caring more about how I present myself to the world. I mean, doing 1,000 sit-ups a day to have abs like that couldn’t be that hard! And I could probably attempt to wear some sort of flowy beach cover-up and wedge sandals and bring actual beach towels. I could buy actual beach towels! Perfect Parent’s kids even look like they have bathed in an actual tub in the last week. Not having to take a bath is half the reason we even come to the pool.

7. The Mom Looking For A Friend, Any Friend

I have been there, so I know how she feels. It’s almost like dating; she notices your children are about the same age, with the same interest in being human water tornadoes with no regard for other people. She catches your eye and strikes up a conversation, always starting out with “So … how old is she? What a good little swimmer! What’s her name?” The similarities and differences between children are compared and contrasted. “Your child loves to jump off super tall things and scare the shit out of you? So does mine!” “Your child enjoys getting into the car very slowly and crying at dinner? So does mine!” You exchange phone numbers between bouts of telling your respective children that fingers don’t go in other people’s eyes and to spit out whatever that was they found floating in the pool.

8. The Hippie Parent

You will recognize the Hippie Parent with her homemade raw food vegan granola snacks in cloth containers, and her children with names like Bringer of Light and Namaste Jones. (My kid’s middle name is Rainbow, so I probably don’t have a lot to say about this.) Hippie Parent is at peace even when her children are mauling one another, happy in the moment, breathing and thriving.

9. The Grandparent

It is often hard to tell the grandmas from the moms where we live. Partly because women tend to have their babies later here, and partly because a lot of the grandmas are still sporting a two-piece in a way that makes me want to cover myself with a tarp. The grandmas seem to genuinely like the children they are swimming with. There is a lot of high-fiving and pool-jump congratulations and delicious-looking cookies at snack time. Grandmas are as awesome as Fun Mom.

10. The Discipline Parent

She expects her children’s perfect behavior at all times. No pushing, no sliding out of turn, and for goodness sake don’t blow your nose in the pool like that kid (pointing at my kid). She has a lot of rules and there are a lot of time-outs on the side of the pool and she talks a lot about good and bad choices. But all I can think is, jeez, give the kid a break, they all like to splash an unsuspecting friend in the face once in awhile. It just feels good.

I have fit very snugly into all of these parent categories at one time or another, depending on the day, or the amount of sleep that has been bequeathed to me by the children in my home.

Well, except for Perfect Parent. But we all know that one has something wild locked up somewhere.

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