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Posted by Dr. Claire McCarthy June 25, 2012 07:38 AM
It was opening day at the town pool this past weekend, and we were there.
We dug out the Pool Bag with all its useful pockets, made sure we had sunscreen and goggles and shiny coins (my kids love diving for coins), picked out our favorite towels, and off we went.
The town pool may not be as elegant as some club pools or as private as the pools at friends' houses, but we still like it best. It's always available, there's always a chance you'll meet up with friends (or make new ones), it has no pretensions and only the basics of rules--and it's free. As we walked through the locker room and the banging gate and out onto the deck I thought: I love this.
We found a bit of poolside space to dump our stuff, took off our sandals and got on our goggles, and jumped right in. There's nothing quite like that first moment of being submerged; it's coolness and freedom and happiness all mixed into one.
Liam, 6, pretended to be a shark. Natasha, 11, showed me her "signature move": a front somersault immediately followed by a backward one. They closed their eyes while I threw the coins; Natasha showed Liam how to use his arms to get down to the bottom faster.
My best childhood memories involve being in the water in the summer, with my dad. I dove for shiny rocks, played with hermit crabs, jumped off diving boards, practiced somersaults like Natasha. I don't know what my children's best memories will be (I wonder about that so often!) but watching them laugh and play at the town pool, I can't help thinking that these will be among them.
When I'm at the pool with my kids, I don't do anything else but be with them. There are lifeguards, they are older and good swimmers now, but I'll never get out of the habit of always watching my children when they are in water. So I don't multitask--which, for me, is nearly unheard of. I watch them and I play with them and we are together. We are family.
Over the 21 years I've been a parent, I've been to the town pool countless times, and they have been some of the best moments of parenthood for me. These moments are better, I think, than outings or parties or even holidays or birthdays--because there are no expectations, no organization, no planning, no cleanup, nothing you have to say or do. They are about pure, unadulterated fun. They are about being in the moment, and getting the most out of that moment. They are some of those rare Zen moments of parenthood, the ones we--or at least I--don't seem to get nearly enough of.
They are a gift. We need to treasure them, and grab them whenever we can.
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About MD MamaClaire McCarthy, M.D., is a pediatrician and Medical Communications Editor at Boston Children's Hospital . An assistant professor of pediatrics at Harvard Medical School and a senior editor for Harvard More »
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