Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Summer Daze

I remember delightful childhood summers. My family would spend many weekends at my uncle's river cottage where FUN was the main agenda. There was a nice sandy beach, a huge raft, a pier perfect for jumping off of. The water was warm, and never got too deep. It was perfect for playing our favorite game, 'chicken', where each team consisted of two, one on top of the other's shoulders. The object was to knock the other team's top person off the bottom person's shoulders. We'd ride in Uncle Buzzy's speed boat, watching our cousins water ski. My brother and I were always envious of their skill, but too afraid to try it ourselves. Early mornings were spent wading with a minnow net, catching our bait for fishing later in the day. After supper, there'd be homemade ice cream and fireworks, a screened porch with a creaky porch swing.

When we weren't visiting our relatives, we'd be riding our bikes through the neighborhood. Down to the elementary school where we could whack a tennis ball against the brick wall. Over to the little league fields where, if we were lucky, there'd be a ball game and we could grab a Chick a Stick from the concession stand. Endless trips to the library racking up an enormous cadre of borrowed books. Mom and Dad nagging me to 'get some color', but truthfully, I enjoyed the summer shade more than the summer sun. (Looking back, I'm grateful I held my position on that, considering the cause and effect of sun and skin cancer).

Now that I have kids, I have a better appreciation for how much WORK it takes to achieve a lazy summer day. No doubt those fun river weekends weren't as much for my mom and Aunt Rosa, who were charged with shopping, packing, unpacking, cooking and cleaning. Coaxing suntan lotion on the kids. Policing the water to make sure no one put a toe in the river until 30 minutes after meal time. Yelling at us to go to sleep already, for heavens' sake! Not exactly their idea of a relaxing time on the water.

We don't have the river cottage any longer. It was used less and less as we got older. Summers evolved from catching fireflies and scratching mosquito bites to choosing 'just the right' bathing suit for the beach with your friends. Two decades later, and I have children myself who LOVE the pool. On opening weekend, Clay had his suit and goggles on before I had time to think about where a swim diaper for Drew might be hiding. He spent the next hour asking WHEN we'd actually GO to the pool. We might have already been on the wayl, but I was still trying to locate a damn swim diaper. And, because our pool requires that babies have a swim diaper AND plastic pants, I was keeping an eye out for Clay's old swim suits. I figured no one would strip search my baby to make sure he was wearing a swim diaper and plastic pants. Herein lies the next problem: where did I pack the 12 month summer clothes? It was three years ago, and I can't remember where I last put the Easter baskets, so I knew I was in for a quest. Eventually, I found EVERY piece of summer baby clothing I remember, save a swimsuit. I did manage to locate a 2T swim trunk, and considered safety pinning it around Drew's waist. Fortunately, he's a big kid and pulled it off beautifully without the extra, and sharp, hardware. Here's hoping I haven't set him up for a dreadful adolescent baggy, saggy pants phase...

After getting Drew's dressed, it occured to me that I still needed something to wear. Unlike the past years, I couldn't get away reading a book while Mike and Clay swam. After all, he can't very well handle BOTH kids in the pool. I had to don a swimsuit. Not that it was traumatic, or anything. At this point in my life, I'm immune to how I look in a swimsuit. And I didn't really care what people thought of my unshorn body... I'll find the razor tomorrow.

Now that everyone's dressed, we grabbed a bottle of suntan lotion, and set off. We were a mama, a daddy, a big boy and a baby. A stroller, three towels, $5 for the snack bar, a bag with spare clothes for the boys, and a partridge in a pear tree. We packed for a day at the beach, and were only headed to our neighborhood pool.

And two blocks later, we arrived!

That's when the teenager at the front gate told us... the baby pool was closed. For mechanical issues. She wasn't sure when it would open.

So I said to my husband, "Let's hurry up and get this fun over with." The women of my youth, I'm sure, would understand.

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