A few Saturday’s ago: there were three magical consecutive hours when both kids were not sick, and ambient temperature were in the high 90’s. Shaun and I hustled them off to the pool. We were positively bristling with water noodles, blowup rings, torpedoes, towels, sunscreen, water, and dozens of other must-have pool supplies. Including other people’s bristling children.
600 of our closest neighbors had the same idea. They too were pool refugees carting supplies and hauling other people’s children. (Doesn’t anyone have air conditioning in this town?)
Come to think of it, it was a lot like a horse show.
- Pool = Arena
- Poolside = Stakeout Areas. Complete with polite turf wars.
It’s not THAT big of a pool.
We finally got Daisy to agree to be a shark after years of harassment. She was meeting us there. I glanced at the now minuscule looking pool, the huge stake-out encampments (Tents? Our home owner’s association allows TENTS poolside? What memo did I miss?) and I thought, succinctly:
Daisy pulled up, ready to sun in one of the (double uh-oh) already occupied loungers, picturing peace and endurable splashing, in exchange for a small amount of child chasing and leisurely toe dipping.
My brain, ever helpful, chose this moment to remember the term “bedlam” was derived from the Insane Asylum of the same name. Then it flitted back to my last IM negotiation with Daisy about “Shark”.
J: Want to play Shark on Sat?
D: Wait. What IS shark?
J: a) Pool, b) 6,000 kids who believe you are It. BTW. You ARE It.
J: Bingo. With running commentary (that limb is looking miiighty tasty) and the ability to make teenagers actually squeal and clear a space around you in the pool without passing gas.
D: Funny. Caveat: some sharks do NOT get their hair wet.
J: Given. Mouthy is the main requirement.
J: Did I have any doubts?
J: If you are up to dealing with hormones. Mostly boys. Billowing Muu-muu’s acceptable if you care about the elbow ribbing, sideways oogling, and whoa…Duuude, check it OUT. Mostly grannies. You’d be a whiplash double-take.
D: This is working for my ego.
J: Trust me. After this, your ego will be obnoxious to itself.
D: Sold. Sunning?
J: Poolside loungers, shade trees. Actual pool is usually deserted.
Those words are coming back to haunt me, as I survey the pool equivalent of a civil war battle field reenactment, and Daisy, in the parking lot, slings her pool bag over her shoulder and smiles at me. Did I mention there’s a wall around the pool? One you can’t see through?
Shaun herds our entourage through the pool gate and I walk over to meet Daisy.
“Hey!” she says.
“Um…” I say.
“So this is the famous Shark arena, huh?” says Daisy, craning her head to see over the adobe wall.
“More like the Roman Coliseum at the moment.” I say, trying to break it slowly. “It’s kinda crowded today.”
“What, ten people?” Daisy is teasing me. I’m always sending annoying poolside complaint texts that I’m the only adult compulsively hovering over a dozen kids. What can I say? Once a lifeguard, always a lifeguard. I have The Voice. Even a 17 year old who knows me stops running if I shout WAAAAAAALK, PLEASE!
She is SO going to kill me. I look at the pool. The kids are behaving like kids. Not a problem. The adults are behaving like vying real estate agents using WWE rules of engagement. Problem.
The volume and breadth of the screaming tips her off. She stops walking.
“Oh, you aren’t kidding.”
“Afraid not. It’s a zoo.”
“The heat.” This is a statement, not a question.
“I’m thinking so.”
We walk through the gate. Miraculously, Shaun has managed to clear a lounger out from under a couple of sputtering pre-teens. Adult privileges. Did I mention the WWE rules are in force? To keep the lounger, we pile our stuff, the kids stuff, our kid entourage’s stuff, and Daisy’s stuff on it. What lounger? I don’t see any lounger.
One thing remains usual. Despite the sweltering heat, only two adults are in the pool. Unfortunately, it’s the two with no common sense. Muscle dude is hurling his three year old into the deep end, and then jumping in after him, to ‘save’ him, forgetting his wake would cause an undertow and re-submerge his sans water-winged kid.
Do not shout do not shout do not shout. You are no longer a lifeguard.
Let-it-all-hang-out (verbally) lady is playfully dropping F-bombs as she chases her 10 year old…I’m gonna get your effing toe! NO! I’m gonna get your effing arm! Don’t you effing run from ME! You’re Mommy’s Effing little tootie-patootie.
This is not the fun and simple intro to Shark I was hoping for.
I also neglected to mention most of the kids call me mom and Shaun mama. Daisy’s eyebrows disappeared into her hairline when the first of a 15 kids who don’t belong to us called “Moooom…can we play with the water darts?” “Can I borrow Micah’s towel? I forgot mine.” “They’re here! They’re here! We can play SHARK now!!’
Daisy said, “Did we spawn some extras without mentioning this to our Auntie?”
“Our Auntie Shark” I correct her. “We seem to have amassed a lot of little fishies when our heads were turned.”
“The joy.” Daisy says.
“Pretty much”, I say, snatching a water noodle from Stevie before he can bash Jose’s head with it. “Knock it OFF boys!”
In unison: “Sorry mom”. They look speculatively at Daisy, “are YOU the new shark? Micah said we got a new shark today.”
I jump in with a partial save: “it’s a surprise. Surprise us with good behavior and you might get a new shark.”
Daisy: You forgot to mention the hundred extra children and the fact they are all piranhas in disguise?
Jane: Small oversight? ( I say this hopefully) My Bad?
Daisy rolls her eyes. But she’s an excellent sport, and we manage to kill quite a few children and tear off a number of extraneous limbs. Needed a little catsup, and a little salt, some dental floss. But oh well, life gives you minnows, make minnow-aide.
Daisy: Have to admit. Blood sport is kinda fun.
Spoken like a true Shark.
One that will undoubtedly never return, but a true shark nevertheless.