I’ve learned a few basic truths in the last nine years of being a mother:
1. No two children sleep-train or potty-train the same way. Throw out the manuals and go with your instincts.
2. The older your kids get, the faster time flies.
I had never really thought about it before until I recently noticed a dad playing cross-pool with some kids at our neighborhood pool. We moms were lounging poolside and chatting. He was treading water in the deep end trying to covertly catch a squirmy swimmer mid-lap. I glanced at some kids just smiling at the dad – they weren’t related to him at all – but they had stopped what they were doing and were grinning.
I recognized that smile.
One of the clearest memories I have of my pool days growing up is of my dad strolling through the gates of our pool. He would’ve been gone for days – he traveled my entire childhood. My sister and I rarely kept up with his schedule, so for him to come to the pool on a Friday afternoon would be a complete surprise. We’d look up, scream his name, and he’d cannonball jump into the pool towards us.
That same smile I saw on those kids.
He’d toss us, let us climb all over him, play shark. Anything we’d want to do. Other kids would flock to him (because every kid flocks to the dad) asking to be thrown, heaved, or for the very big ones, lightly shoved. My mom would sit nearby socializing, finally relieved of her week-long single mom duties. (My dad is still a pool superhero – he’s “Larry the Lobster” for my kids and their cousins – always chasing them through the pool waters on our beach vacations. That’s him and my youngest last summer!)
Yep, I’ve got a pretty amazing dad.
And all these years later I’m finally able to fully appreciate it – especially when I see the look on my kids’ faces when THEIR dad strolls through the gates of the pool. Like my dad – and many other dads – he travels and his schedule is unpredictable. It kinda makes him a celebrity, I now realize. And during the summer, he’s the ultimate celebrity at the pool.
I work out about 7 days a week more than my husband, but he will always be stronger. I might toss one of the kids once or twice, but he will always toss higher. He will always make a bigger splash with his cannonball. He will always have broader shoulders on which to stand. He will always throw the tennis ball more accurately as a kid jumps off the diving board to catch it.
And, just like my mom, I will always feel relieved to see him walk through the gates knowing I’m off duty – if only for just a little bit.
I’ve seen it with my husband and most every other dad at the pool. They’re splash royalty, and I will forever fan the “People” magazine I’m reading (remember – off duty, baby!) to bow down to their pool prowess.
We know that most men are like 10-year-old boys in a grown man’s body, and never is this more true than at the pool. For that, we will be forever grateful. So thanks to all you dads, you Kings of the Chlorine! May you never grow up or grow old!