Dear Son #1, #2, & #3,
Last week our pool turned green. A mixture of sweltering temperatures, the chlorinator running out of chlorine and being away for the weekend and VOILA! One gorgeous, goopy swamp was born. We attacked it right away with enough chemical to probably sterilize an entire lake and got it from a scummy swamp to foamy soup in a matter of days. While the chemical reading said it was swimmable, the fact you couldn’t see the bottom said otherwise. It was time. I knew it was time.
Time to go to the pool store.
There is nothing bad about the pool store—the staff are friendly and helpful, the product is always well stocked and good quality, and the prices are competitive and reasonable—the issue, I’m sorry to say, is you boys.
I honestly can’t complain too much about how you behave in stores, libraries, restaurants, and general public places other than the excitement level could definitely be taken down a notch. Thankfully you’re still at the stage where people think you’re pretty cute, but there’s something about the pool store that brings out the inner maniac in all of you. However, without much choice in the matter, we headed out first thing Saturday morning with pool sample in hand to get there right at 10am for opening.
I pulled into the parking lot and immediately read you the riot act which you all know off by heart yet somehow have trouble actually executing it:
“Listen, obey and do.”
“You may look at the toys but we will NOT be buying any.”
“Look with our EYES not our hands.”
“No running, no screaming, no whining and hands to ourselves.”
“Don’t go anywhere with a stranger.”
“Stay where Mommy can see you.”
As we walked in the door you all instantly went three separate directions, while an impressive feat not being preplanned, I quickly herded you into the line up for the pool testing which was already long from arriving four minutes after 10. Already sweaty from the hot day and the herding, I waited in the line up while you all happily skipped over to the toy section. The line soon began to snake long behind me and staff were checking we “qualified” for our water tests as they now took 10 times as long due to a Covid supply shortage. I glanced back and saw another mother with her two girls, standing quietly next to her and following all the rules she probably didn’t need to lay out ahead of time. Don’t worry, you three are far more exciting.
I could hear your excited voices echoing in the toy section as you kept coming back and forth attempting to “puppy dog eye” me into getting you an underwater lightsaber, superhero surfboard, or miniature treasure chest. “Don’t even bother trying” I replied while wrangling Alexander from a very breakable-looking display of patio drink ware. 15 minutes later and a ridiculous amount of “No’s”, “Get off that’s”, and “Put that down now’s”, I was two people away from the desk. There was light at the end of the tunnel. Then another staff member came by the line to pre-qualify us once again by asking whether our pools were green. I mistakingly put up my hand which ignited an argument as to whether I qualified for a test or not. Once she finally realized that I wasn’t going anywhere without one she must have felt it safest at that point just to go away. Thanks to this distraction, I heard your cheerful little voices all the way across the warehouse-sized store, I tried to call for you as there was no way I wanted to lose my precious place in the line up. I could hear you coming closer so as the next person got called up I craned my neck to catch a glimpse of, hopefully, all three of you behaving like the little angels I knew must be in there somewhere. The two little girls were still patiently waiting next to their mother in line.
At long last I was next, the anticipation was almost too much to contain as we reached the 20-minute mark and were that much closer to escaping. That was when I saw her, a very unhappy-looking staff member marching over to a pool display waving her arms and yelling “BOYS GET DOWN!!”
I briefly debated staying in line and relinquishing all claims I had to you but too many people had seen me so I smiled nervously to the man behind me (who did not smile back) and rushed over. Mumbling an apology to the perturbed staff member, I ran up the steps and past the knocked over sign that boldly stated NO SWIMMING. ALL CHILDREN MUST BE SUPERVISED AT ALL TIMES! As I reached the beautiful pool/deck display that you all decided would be a lovely place to have a quick swim while you waited for me, the associate called after me, “One of them is half undressed too!”
“Thank you! And so sorry!!” I waved as I growled at you all the march back to the line up where I had probably lost my place by now. The look on my face was most likely priceless when I saw you Alexander with, in fact, your pants around your ankles and shoes off.
“DID YOU PEE??!!” I aggressively whispered in your ear.
“NO!” You proclaimed indignantly and I actually think you rolled our eyes at me. “I was just going swimming.”
Rather shocked that you were all getting trouble for something you clearly performed a risk assessment to prior, you all defiantly stated the facts of why you should be allowed swimming:
“It was very shallow, we could all easily touch so we weren’t going to drown.”
“There were steps leading up to it and lots of pool toys near it.”
“There was no gate or fence blocking it off.” (Let’s be honest, none of you can read so the sign you knocked over didn’t play any part either).
And probably my favourite…
“We were going to go in naked so we wouldn’t get our clothes wet!”
Mercifully it was still my turn when I got back to my lonely water sample jar holding my place in the line. By now, any control I did have was long gone and it was all I could do to keep you all from “helping” behind the water testing desk or knocking the whole display of water nightlights everywhere. All I wanted to do was taste the sweet freedom of the exit and collapse into the safe haven of my van with car seats and restraining belts. The two little girls weren’t even whining yet.
As by some miracle, it was finally our turn and the very pleasant associate behind the counter tested our water and directed me to all the chemicals I needed to get the pool back to the crystal clear blue we were longing for. As we paid at the cash for our chemicals I was asked the customary “How are you doing today?”
“Tired.” I answered with a weak smile as I ran over to stop you from climbing into a humungous—no doubt incredibly expensive—hot tub.
The two little girls were by now also at the cash, waiting quietly for their mother by a display of pool thermometers.
At exactly 10:34 a.m., we were back in the van, AC blasting, pool chemicals safely in the back, and all of you strapped in yet still excited from the fun adventure at the pool store. As I drove to get a coffee (because the liquor store doesn’t open until 11 in Ontario), I felt a sense of accomplishment.
I got the pool test done.
I made no friends during the process, probably lost at least a year off of my life from the stress, added a few more greys to the top of my head, and gave every parent there the confidence that they were a much better parent than I could ever hope to be. But none of that mattered, because I got the pool test, I got the chemicals, and nobody died.
As I pulled into the nearest Tim Hortons I sent up a silent prayer of thanks; not only for you boys for making life that much more thrilling for me every day but also for the invention of the drive-thru.
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