Monday, June 12, 2017

Pool House Rules

When I was a little kid, my siblings and I would beg my Dad to "just put in a pool." Please?
When I was a middle size kid, the begging continued. Pretty please?
When I was a teenager, the argument became for "just an above ground pool." Come on!

We never got our pool, which in the end probably saved my skin from being even more wrinkled than it is, plus it made my Mom's house a bit easier to sell.

My Dad's reasoning, which often fell on plugged ears with an occasional "Na Na Na, I can't hear you" drowning him out, was that pools are too much hassle, too expensive and take too much time to maintain. Besides, he said, we had lots of Neighbors With Pools.

My hats go off to our Neighbors With Pools. They were the salt of the earth, or in this case the chlorine. They sat for hours, watching a bunch of gangly kids jump in and out of the water, run when running was strictly forbidden, play Marco Polo for hours, and screech and yell loud enough to be heard four streets away. This was before smart phones, wifi or even cordless phones. What did those moms do to not completely lose their minds? How did all that kid yelling not cause their brains to start oozing out of their ears?

The moms and dads of my old neighborhood took their lifeguarding duties seriously. We knew the rules too, we were absolutely not allowed in any way, shape or form to go swimming without an adult to watch us. In the case of my friend Kim's pool, the fact that her mom worked really put a wrench in our swim-all-day, swim-every-day plans. 

So we got around the rules with this bit of reasoning: If we climbed up on the roof, got a running start so as to clear the cement area around the pool, we could jump in the pool. Jumping is not swimming. Jumping is jumping. Her mom didn't say we couldn't jump unless she was there, she said we couldn't swim unless she was there. Semantics, they are so crucial.

Of course if you find yourself in the middle of a pool for some odd reason, say maybe because you took a running jump off the roof, you sort of had to swim to the side. It wasn't swimming, it was jumping and then taking the necessary steps to exit the pool. A neighbor who saw the whole thing and didn't think much of our plan told Kim's mother, who then had to make some really stupid rule about us really really not being allowed in the pool in any way, shape or form. Nosy neighbor!

Now that we are the people with the pool, I can see why those moms and dads let all us kids use their pool for hours on end, every weekend, every summer night, and as long into the fall as we could bear until our lips turned blue and we shivered all the way home to our house without the pool. It's fun to be the house with the pool. It's fun to hear kids screaming and screeching and yelling until your brains almost ooze out your ears. It would be stupid to let all that chlorine be wasted on quiet adults who merely paddle around trying to not get "too wet."

This sign came with our yard.
This wooden sign, a bit tattered and sun faded, used to have three rules hanging from the bottom. If I recall correctly they were:

Rule #1  No running! Or skipping! Or walking super fast!
Rule #2  Don't do anything in the pool that you would do in your toilet!
Rule #3  No swimming without adult supervision! Or jumping off the roof! Don't look at the water without an adult within 3 feet! Don't even think about swimming without written consent!

(It might have been a bit more succinct, but speaking from experience, kids need rules to be a bit more fleshed out. Semantics, they are so crucial.)

Truthfully, I don't mind the running around the pool part of childhood. Kids run around pools, they just do. It's the falling and cracking the head open part that no one wants to see, so the pesky no running rule will always top the list. But in the end just swim, be safe, and have fun. Screaming is a given.

Rule #4 Don't pop my Gummy Bear Floatie!