The Pool

We moved into our house fourteen years ago. I’ve wanted a pool since day one. I grew up around water. We had a pool in our backyard(s) from the time I could walk, even it was just a blow-up pool. We spent our summers in or by the pool. I’ve known  how to swim as long as i can remember, and competed on swim teams from the time I was seven years old through my sophomore year of high school. But Spouse wasn’t comfortable putting a pool in when the kids were so little. I lost that initial battle, but I never gave up the fight.

We re-entered pool negotiations a few years ago. I was pushing to have it done before Big Man started high school. We had plans drawn up, and started the process of getting HOA approval, but then things came up and we tabled it all…until last fall. Digging started the second week of November – yep, the week our Southern California drought started to end with rains that came weekly. Our pool is finished, although there is work yet to be done as far as landscaping and an additional patio near the pool. Can I get an amen?

Why was I so adamant about putting a pool in? Well, selfish reasons really. I love being by/in the water. I cannot wait to float around my pool this summer, book and beverage in hand. I love going to the beach, and we have plenty of friends with pools, but there’s nothing  like being able to walk out into your own backyard to your own pool. Also, I prefer my kids be at our house hanging out with their friends than be anywhere else. The pool gives us that opportunity and enticement.

The first day we were able to get into the pool, Little Man was in. This is the same kid who wouldn’t budge off the top step of any pool for years. Now, we can hardly keep him out of it. He’s outside, away from his computer, and that alone makes it worth it. A couple Friday nights ago, I sat on the back patio and watched as Big Man jumped in for the first time. The Princess has already been on her pizza float, and sat on the bench under the umbrella. This past Sunday evening, after running in a 15K race, Spouse and I got in the hot tub and watched the sun set. Happy legs!

I foresee warm days spent out there in our backyard, my kids actually hanging out together, building more memories, swimming and floating in our own pool.  I picture evenings on that back patio, hanging out by the firepit with friends. In  my mind, our backyard, our home, wasn’t complete without that pool.

The Dance

If you live with a child who has a developmental disability, you know life is a dance, two steps forward, five steps back. I’m convinced part of the reason we endured the NICU was to prepare us for this same type of dance with Little Man.  It’s been a summer of forward and backward movement with him.

We went to the beach the other day. Typically, we have to fight to get him there, and he is inevitably asking how much longer we have to stay within half an hour of our arrival.  He went with a friend on Monday. We caught up with them later, after Big Man finished cross country practice.  When we got there, he was in the water with his friend, on his boogie board. He’d been there almost the entire time, my friend informed me. “Seriously? This is Little Man we’re talking about, right?” But sure enough, there he was, farther out in the water than I’ve ever seen him, having the time of his life. The difference? He had a wet suit on. It still amazes me the little things that will make such a huge difference for him. He spent most of the three-plus hours we were there out in the water. And for the first time ever, he wasn’t anxious to leave, was disappointed when it was time to leave. A wet suit. Who knew?

The pool is usually a trouble spot for him too, but he’s been a swimming fiend this summer. My parents even commented on in when we were out to visit them back in June.  Instead of begging to leave within minutes of our arrival, we had to drag him out when it was time to go back to the house.  I have no clue what the difference-maker is for this one. We haven’t introduced any new tools. I think he is just more comfortable and confident in  his swimming abilities, and his siblings were taking the time to play with him.

We’ve had our backwards steps as well. Last night at dinner, he reached maximum capacity, and the tears started to flow. He was tired. It was really loud in the restaurant, and we’d been at the pool, in 100+ degree temps, all afternoon. We’re away from home, out of routine completely. I took him outside for a walk while Spouse, Big Man, and the Princess finished dinner.  At the Princess’ recital last week, I had to take him out the lobby before the first half was done to decompress. He stayed out there most of the second half of the show (and I am so thankful for other moms at our studio who get him, and stayed with him so I could watch the Princess dance).

He’s had his share of meltdowns over the last couple of weeks. We are most of the way through summer. He’s ready for the routine of school, but even that brings some anxiety as it will be a new school, a new environment, a new routine for him. Some days lately, we have five steps forward, and then ten steps back. I feel I’m walking a tightrope, wondering from second to second what’s going to come out of him emotionally.  But then he will walk up to me, give me a big  hug, and tell me he loves me, and we both breath. We’ll get through, and we will keep on dancing.