Monday, August 31, 2009

No Neon Noodles

So after all my recent blogging about how I am embracing the asphalt jungle and shall never forsake its public pools, no matter how hot it gets and how few items I am allowed to bring to the swimming areas -- well, I left town. I now interrupt your normal NY broadcasting for a brief episode in the Garden State, at my parent’s place.

So far, stay-cation trumps suburban vacay, hands down. This morning sucked raw sewage.

Came down to NJ last night with dreams of running through the grass and filling up the little plastic kiddie pool in the yard and then woke up to a freezing rain. I know you’re thinking, freezing rain sounds kind of refreshing right now. But there’s not much to do in this part of the Jerse in the freezing rain.

Thankfully, I’d worked hard beforehand to score guest passes (I am the queen of guest passes, which you may by noticing) to this mineral springs club with a bunch of pools in it. So I dressed the children in their swimming gear and brought them over.

Let me pause for a moment to elaborate on what I mean by “swimming gear.”

For Seconda, the two-year old who fears nothing and will jump into 10 foot-deep water without breaking her stride, this means a bathing suit. That’s all.

For Primo, the four-year old who won’t dip his toe in a puddle without some coaxing, when I say “gear” I mean tonnage of floatation equipment.

Now, just for the record, I never believed in floaties. Water wings, vests, kick boards, that sort of thing, I never had any of that stuff as a kid and I did just fine. I mean, I’m a lousy swimmer, but who cares? I get by. I figured if I got Primo water wings, he’d grow dependent on them and then he’d never really learn how to swim on his own. Incidentally, this is the same rationale we used to deny him the paci, which made him suck on my boob for comfort morning noon and night for 12 months.

This was a dumb-ass move. Little kids are dependent. Period. That’s what you call them on your taxes, for God’s sake. I mean, what did I think? He’d be dependent on me for food and shelter and education and love and diversion but NOT for swimming. Dumb. I suppose it might have worked out well for another sort of child, the kind that just rolls with the punches. But for my son, who is, well, highly cautious and loath to try new things, the no-training-wheels approach backfired on us.

Primo never built confidence in the water, because well, he wouldn’t even get IN the water. It’s not like we get much occasion to go in a pool anyway, so it’s been no big deal but finally, this summer I had to face the fact that my kid is terrified of swimming.

And so, last week, during my late August stay-cation swim-fest, when we popped into the Y pool for an open swim and I saw the heaps of floatation aids, I thought, “Awwww, what the hell?” I strapped him into one of those suckers, gave him two noodles to hang on to, and I’ll be darned if that aqua-phobic child wasn’t kicking around, grinning from ear to ear and shouting, “I’m a fish Mommy, look!”

Just like that, I became a convert.

So on the way to NJ this weekend, we stopped at BJs, and purchased the very last of the season’s (and accordingly discounted) fully-loaded “float suit.” It contains floatation pads in the chest, the back and the shoulders. It could keep the Titanic afloat.

Trouble is, to make Primo feel secure, this one piece of equipment will not suffice. He needs the suit as well as something to hold on to so that his chin bobs at least a foot above the water.

And that is why my son entered the pool at the fancy smancy NJ mineral springs club wearing a superhero flotation suit and carrying two neon noodles.

Did you know you aren’t allowed to bring neon noodles into fancy smancy mineral spring pools?

That’s what the lifeguard informed me.

“Then what’s this?” I ask, pointing to a more somber-colored gray noodle resting by the side of the pool.

“Well, you can only use it if you’re in the water aerobics class.”

“So, let’s just say we’re in the water aerobics class,” I suggest, but I guess with two rug-rats hanging off my arms, a sagging mid-section, and legs which haven’t been shaved since June, my flirtation is not as powerful as I hoped.

“The noodle is not Coast Guard-approved,” the life-guard replies, no longer looking at me.

To this, I am speechless. But Primo is not.

“WHY CAN’T I HAVE MY NOODLE????” he screams, “I NEED MY NOODLE!!!!”

I shoot the lifeguard a plaintive look. But he is ignoring me. It is probably embarrassing him to have to deal with me and my crazy brood.

“He says you can’t have it in here,” I explain, while trying to keep my hands on Seconda who is shaking me off,

shouting, “I can swim ALL BY MYSELF!”

“Why NOT?” Primo wails. He is panicking.

“Because it’s not Coast Guard-approved,” I reply. Unsurprisingly, this does not satisfy him. Neither does my pleading with him to trust the bionic super-flotation suit that he is wearing. Neither does my pointing out that the noodle-ban is not MY fault. I spend the next hour dragging whining Primo around on my back while wrestling to keep a hold of my aspiring two year-old Michael Phelps.

So yeah, I’m missing my stay-cation right about now.

Noodles forever!