Thursday, July 25, 2013

Pool Snark

It's summer.  We've been very busy enjoying the weather and spending all our time outside.  Here in Chicagoland we need to take advantage of every warm, sunny day before the dreaded winter sets in (cue "Winter is coming" comments).  Throw in a major career change for my husband that means he's been traveling like crazy and blogging has taken a backseat to life.

That doesn't mean that the snarkiness has stopped.  Oh no, it's still on in full force.

Let's tackle one of summer's favorite places - the community pool.

Our pool is great for my boys because it has a fantastic kiddie pool that is completely gated off and enclosed.  I can let My Big Guy roam around and not worry about him running off and jumping into the deep end of the real pool (he's a little fishy and loves jumping in and swimming by himself).  The kiddie pool only gets about 2 feet deep so he's able to explore the place on his own and I don't worry about him drowning.  There's a slide, and a sand area for the kids to have fun in too.  And they welcome pool toys which is great.

What's not so great is that they enforce "Safety Breaks" (in my day it was "Adult Swim") every hour, even in the kiddie pool.  Have you tried to tell an almost 3 year old and a 16 month old that they can't go in the pool that's right in front of them because of some stupid rule?  It involves a lot of tears and yelling.  Frankly, I hate doing it too because I think it's stupid.  I hate having to tell my kids that because of some rule I don't believe in they can't do something they want to do.  If I wasn't concerned about being banned from the pool for blatantly ignoring their rules I'd just let them play any way.  I get that kids need to take a break from swimming every now and then to rehydrate and make sure they're not getting too tired but is that really necessary in an area where most parents are not letting their kids out of arms reach?  I am capable of deciding when my kids need a break, I don't need you random teenage lifeguard telling me when they do.

Now that we've addressed the pool in general, let's discuss other parents...

I know that the pool can be a scary place for parents.  I'm sure fear of your kid drowning is very powerful but that doesn't mean you have to ruin the pool experience for your kid.  Most kids at our pool are wearing a hat, a swim shirt, some sort of flotation device, and a bathing suit.  Oh, and enough sun screen that their faces are glowing white.  I'm all for safety, don't get me wrong, but I think there's a limit.  The pool is 2 feet deep.  If your kid is like, 3.5 feet tall does he really need to be wearing floaties on his arms?  Do you really need to be within 6 inches of him at all times?  How's he ever going to feel confident in the water with you constantly telling him to be careful and not be more than an arm's length away from you?  I get that smaller kids need to be supervised more, I follow My Little Guy around the pool the whole time.  But he's only 16 months old and when the pool does get to that 2 feet depth it's pretty deep for him.  But I let him wander further than 6 inches from me.  And if he falls in the pool I don't have a complete freak out, I just calmly help him up and tell him it's just water on his face and we move on with our lives.  I've seen other parents scream and take their kid out of the pool when they trip and fall.  It's water.  They'll live.

And then there's the sun fear.  Personally, I do not slather my children in sunscreen.  I know, I'm the worst mom ever and I should be carted off to prison right now.  My kids wear swim shirts and swim trunks with 50 spf built in.  That's good enough for me.  If they get a little pink on their faces, or on their arms and legs I'm ok with it.  I think the sun is good for them. I know I feel better after spending some time in the sun, and I want them to enjoy it too.  Of course this all has its limits - when we head off to Cali next month and the sun is way more intense I'll throw some sunscreen on them as we spend hours and hours in our pool.  But for 1.5 hours at the community pool I don't bother.  They don't wear hats either.  They hate them.  There are some battles that just aren't worth fighting and I refuse to be that parent following their kid around as they scream and remove the hat that you keep attempting to keep on their head.  If my kids get a little sun burnt they'll live.

On the opposite end of the spectrum is the mom that was so hands off that even I was appalled by her behavior.  Her son looked to be about the same age as My Little Guy and she was just reclining on a lawn chair, not even watching him in the pool.  As I'm sure you're aware, I'm all for Free Ranging it when it comes to my kid, but I'm not about to let my 16 month old wander a pool alone.  This poor kid was trying to get up to the slide, and go down and there was no one to catch him cause his mom was too busy working on her tan.  He did make it into the deeper section of the pool and had a hard time.  If you want to take your kids to  the pool you gotta be responsible for them.  There's a time and place for Free Ranging and a 16 month old in a pool is not it.