Wednesday, September 2, 2009

It’s Swim-dependence Day!

If the sun’s shining, my 5-year-old boy wants to swim.

“Why can’t we go to the pool?” he sulks when his mom and I tell him it’s too cold for swimming. The wind picks up and 50 degrees suddenly feels like 10 degrees. But the sun is shining. “Look,” the kid pleads, “the sun’s out. See how burning and hot that thing looks?”

Yup, our kid loves to swim.

It’s the Fourth of July, and the boy asks to spend the entire day at our community pool. My wife and I think it’s a fun, convenient, affordable idea.

“We’ll avoid all that holiday traffic,” I say to my wife.

“We won’t have to pay high gas prices to drive anywhere,” she adds.

“So can we go?” asks the kid.

“Maybe we can even eat lunch at the pool,” I offer. “I can barbecue hamburgers on the grill they have there.”

“Maybe we can even eat dinner there,” suggests my wife. “Steak or chicken maybe.”

“Yeah,” the kid says, jumping up and down in excitement. “So can we go?”

“I bet we can even get a view of the fireworks from the pool,” I say.

“That’ll save us on entry fees anywhere else,” my wife says.

“So we can go,” the kid says, still jumping up and down.

“Can we do breakfast there?” asks my wife.

“I don’t think you can barbecue eggs or pancakes,” I say. “But right after we eat breakfast at home, we can head over.”

“Yay!” yells the kid. “We’re going to the pool all . . . day . . . long!”

“Then again,” my wife says, “if he’s in the water too long, he’ll shrivel up like a prune.”

“And,” I add, “if he’s in the water too late, his lips will turn blue like a ghost.”

“Ahhh, man,” the kid says with a frown. “So does that mean we can’t go?”

“I really don’t wanna be in the sun too long,” my wife says to me. “I’ll burn. Even with sunscreen.”

“And I really don’t wanna be in the water too long,” I say, “I’ll get sea sick. Even with Dramamine.”

“But I wanna go,” the kid says. “Can we please go?”

“If he’s in the water too long,” my wife says, “his eyes will turn red.”

“Well,” I say, “if I’m fetching his sinkable toys at the bottom of the pool too long, my eyes will turn red.”

“So we’re not going to the pool,” the kid says. “Just admit it.”

“I bet the pool’s gonna be really crowded anyway,” my wife says. “It’s the Fourth of July.”

“How about we go to the beach?” I suggest.

“Yeah, the beach,” says the kid, jumping up and down again. “I can swim at the beach.”

“I bet the beach will be really crowded, too,” my wife says. “It’s the 4th of July.”

“Yeah, and the beach is messy,” I say. “Sand in the car, sand in the house, sand in the bath . . . ”

“And there’s the whole getting burnt, getting sea sick, getting red eyes, shriveling up and lips turning blue,” says my wife.

“ . . . sand in the bed, sand in the ears, sand in the clothes, in the washer, in the dryer.”

“But why can’t we just go to the pool, Mommy and Daddy?” the kid asks, the frown back on his face. “Look at my skin,” he pleads. “See how burning and hot it looks?”

My wife and I finally realize we’ve done a horrible thing to our son. We built up his hopes and dreams of swimming, and we were about to let him down by telling him we couldn’t go.

“OK,” I say. “We’ll go to the pool.”

“Yay!” the kid yells.

We get to the pool, and, of all days, it’s closed for maintenance.

Our son isn’t nuts about swimming in the bathtub all day long.

-July 2009