Swimming pools breed unhappy children

by Lauren Cartwright

It’s pool season. Those of you who are lucky enough to have one in your own backyard, count your blessings. Those of us who are semi-lucky ‘— who have a community pool in the neighborhood ‘— I feel your pain.

I went to the pool in my apartment complex last week, planning on a nice relaxing time. I get my beach towel spread out on the plastic lounge chair; I’m getting settled back, close my eyes for a second, and then I hear a little voice.


I look to my left and Skinny Little Girl has planted herself in the chair next to mine. Then the questions start.

‘“So, are you going to get in the water?’” Girl asks.

‘“No, I don’t usually get in the water. I just like to sit here,’” I reply.

‘“Oh, I bet you just like to sit here and relax,’” Girl says.

That’s what I had been planning on.

After a melee of more swimming-related questions, her mother calls to her across the pool, saying ‘“Get in the water, we only have a few more minutes.’” The little girl scurries off under the aqua surface. Talk about the third degree. With that line of questioning I could definitely see her future as a trial lawyer. I go back to the book I was getting ready to crack open. Ah, peace.

From experience and observation, there are generally three types of children at the pool.

First off, there are the screamers: ‘“Ahhhhhhhhhhhh.’” ‘“No splashing.’” ‘“STOP.’” ‘“MMMMOOOOMMMMM, it’s too cold and Tommy won’t stop splashing me.’”

It’s like as soon as one toe hits the water the decibel level of their voices goes up. Do they have water in their ears? Is that why they talk louder? Is it because their mom is ignoring them from across the pool area and they want to be sure she knows where they are? All I know is no children, and some adults, are unable to whisper at the pool.

Then there are the runners. These kids never walk anywhere. They could be the laziest kids in the world inside their homes, but once they smell chlorine, they’re off and sprinting. No amount of stern reprimands can get these types to stop; only a scraped knee or busted lip will learn ’em, and then only for a day or so.

The third type is the crier. This kid’s sobbing so much you’re not sure if it’s pool water or tears on their faces. Sadly, I was this type of pool kid. I didn’t like going under the water. When I was about three years old, this one little bastard would dunk me under the water of the baby pool. He’d grab me by the hair and pull me under. Okay, so the water was only a foot deep or so, but I was scared. His mom would yell at him; my mom would laugh at me for crying so hard. It was a bad scene all around. I still hate getting water up my nose (by the way, I’ve heard chlorine burns the hair out of your nose, but I have no proof of that urban legend).

A fourth type, which isn’t always confined to the pool area, is the brat. When I lived in the lovely town of Garner for a while, I came across this breed. I was minding my own business at the complex pool one day, standing in the water and reading a magazine I had put on the edge of the pool. Halfway through an article on the fastest way to flatter abs, I see 10 little toes very close to the edge of my magazine. About the time I look up to see who the digits belong to, the heathen dumps a bucket of water on my reading material. I look around to see who’s going to claim the brat and an every-other weekend dad with a Bud Light in his hand says, ‘“Hey. Now, you apologize to her.’”

‘“It’s OK,’” I mutter with a tight-lipped smile plastered on my face.

It’s OK your daddy doesn’t pay attention to you and you’re begging for some type of attention, or maybe your dad has taught you to do bratty things to get women to talk to him. Either way, I’m looking out for that kid on ‘“America’s Most Wanted’” in a few years.

But back to my relaxing day a few weeks ago, after baking myself for a while, I’m startled back to reality by the shriek of children. Fearing someone is drowning in the mist of all that splashing in the pool, I decide to take notice; I could be a witness. I watch for a second and realize it’s just kids playing. There’s running, squealing, and even some crying ‘— just another day at the neighborhood pool.

To comment on this column, e-mail Lauren at lauren@yesweekly,com.