The pool and the pull
Last summer was my first experience taking my two children to the public pool. At that time, I had an energetic 5-year-old and a tiny newborn. The first time I tried it, Cecilia was seven weeks old. SEVEN WEEKS.
This summer, I’ve got a 6-year-old, still full of energy, and a 1-year-old who can walk, jump, stomp and splash. If you read my previous post about summer, you know that I am bound and determined to take the kids to the pool at least 10 times. This is so we reap the entire benefit of buying the family pool passes.
For this full-time, work-outside-the-home mom, 10 times is quite a lot, especially considering that my husband usually works weekends. I am almost always the lone adult with my children when we hit up the pool.
The kids and I practically spent our entire last weekend at the pool. What a difference a year makes! Thanks to lessons and lots of pool time in the summer childcare program he attends, Elliot’s swimming skills have really improved.
And Cecilia is a little water bug too. She climbs on and around the kiddie play area with such joy, and she gets equally excited when I take her into the big pool.
So far, this self-professed control freak has surprisingly felt little worry or stress during our pool trips. Going to the pool is a balance of keeping a very close eye on my children but still allowing them to explore.
Because our public pool has a play area, this makes the experience like a combination of going to a playground and a pool, all in one. Cecilia falls occasionally. Now, if her face goes into the water, I obviously scoop her up immediately. But I am OK with letting her climb the steps and even fall on her butt in the shallow water. I am right beside her, watching and ready to help if she needs me. I have actually encountered a couple parents who’ve tried to help her on the steps or who have taken her hand as she walks through the water. This is a touchy situation. I am trying not to hover, attempting to resist the “pull” to help her with every single step. Yet other parents are offering unsolicited assistance.
There was a popular blog post that circulated on social media networks last fall. In it, the author urged other parents at playgrounds to stop helping her children because she brought them to the park not “so they could learn how manipulate others into doing the hard work for them,” but “so they could learn to do it themselves.”
Now, I know the actual pool – the “big pool” – is different. Anyone who sees a child – or an adult, for that matter – struggling in water that’s too deep is going to instinctively help or get the attention of a lifeguard.
But I’m struggling with the pool’s kiddie play area. How much “help” is too much? Do you struggle with the “pull” of helping your own children or others’ children at the pool, especially if there’s a play area?
Originally published on ovparent.com.