Monday, June 28, 2010

Making a splash.

Napa Valley Register
by Jennifer Huffman | Monday, June 28, 2010

This past April, I got the news every mom wants to hear. We have a spot available at our community pool, the e-mail read. If you are interested in joining, please let us know.

Are we interested? Count us in!

A pool is guaranteed fun for kids of almost all ages. Toss in a few floaties and you have hours of entertainment. Sworn enemies on dry land, in the water, the three sisters suddenly come up with endless diversions together. Marco Polo! Push you sister off the inflatable caterpillar! Who can make the biggest splash? Bellyflops!

We’ve never belonged to a pool before. None of our Napa family members have a pool in their backyard. My in-laws have a pool but it’s in Vacaville — not exactly in the neighborhood. A country club membership is definitely out of our league. I don’t mind the Napa High or other public pools but the 5 p.m. pool closing time is tough for this working mom.

As a pool-less family, over the years, we’ve patched together a hodgepodge of swimming fun. We’d drive to Vacaville, or to a friend’s pool here and there. We’ve taken swim lessons at a private pool. I’ve quizzed my friends with pools about vacation schedules, hoping they’d need a pool sitter. I’ve visited the country club pool for a birthday party and coveted the comfy loungers and poolside snack service. We’ve even installed a baby wading pool in the backyard — anything to keep cool during summer.

I might have dreamed about getting a pool at our house, but I know the truth. Summer in Napa isn’t like summer in Arizona or Texas. We don’t really neeeeeed a pool. But when those heat waves hit, it’s all I could think about. Those are the days when I would have paid anything for 15,000 gallons of water to magically appear in our backyard.

After a neighbor down the street installed a pre-fab type of in-ground pool, I quizzed her relentlessly about the price and size. On hot days I could just imagine her family splashing as we sweltered just a few houses over. Oh, yes, I had pool envy, big time.

So I practically skipped over to our new pool the week it opened.

“Come on girls, let’s go the pool!” I sang out cheerily. On our way for the inaugural swim, I searched radio stations for pool-appropriate music. The car windows were down. I felt relaxed. Life always seems sweet when you are headed to the pool.

Hanging out at the pool is almost like being on vacation. I lounge in a recliner. I read a book. The girls swim. Tightwad mom even forks over dollar bills for candy and ice cream. Everyone is in a good mood at the pool. Even better, when it’s time to go home, we just pack up and leave. I’m not responsible for cleaning, heating or filling the pool.

Now that we belong to a pool, a trip to Target takes on whole new meaning. We need pool snacks, I announced. And those foam noodle things for floating in the water. Look at this nifty spray on sunscreen! Who’s outgrown their swimsuit? Aren’t these flip-flops cute? I need a pool cover-up. And a floppy hat!

I may be a new member but I can already tell the pool has its own sociology. The teens hang out on a grassy patch of lawn. The toddlers are in the baby pool. Baseball teams and other groups grill dinner or serve up birthday cake. Some people sit only on the shady side of the pool. Others lay out on the sunny side. Daredevil dads compete for the biggest cannonball splash. Teen lifeguards perch over it all and sell candy and snacks during breaks. Ahhhh, this is the life.

The next time someone asks me how my summer is going, I know exactly what I’ll say: Swimmingly.

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