** Motor boat motor boat go so slow**
** Motor boat motor boat go so fast**
** Motor boat motor boat step on the gas**
In the summer when the kids were little I took them to the public pool every afternoon. If the day's forecast was hot and sunny (but hot and overcast was never a deal breaker) I'd plow through the housework and laundry at a breakneck speed. My wee ones would would scurry around picking up their toys under the threat of "We're not going to the pool unless you do your chores."
Who was I kidding? The pool was as much for me as it was for them. One time I ran into another mom who said her kids would just as soon not go to the pool and I thought "Not go to the pool? Then what in the world are you supposed to do with them every day?"
It seemed that just when one Fisher kid graduated from the toddler pool to the main pool another pregnancy would send me and the newest bambino back a grade. I learned from another mom that freedom for the older kid would come only after finding and buying the brightest colored swimsuit so that you could easily spot them from the confines of the baby pool. When I was pregnant with Mallory, I befriended another pregnant mom that summer - her with baby #4 on the way to my #3. Every afternoon we'd talk while entertaining our toddlers while simultaneously telling our older kids "No you absolutely can not have anything from the snack bar and didn't we talk about this before we left." I wondered if she'd had her baby when a few days had gone by without seeing her. A week later she was back with her newborn in a stroller parked in the shade. By the end of July I'd follow her to labor and delivery and by early August my baby was parked next to hers. After that summer I never saw her again until twenty years later when I ran into her at a restaurant. "You probably don't remember me," she said. "We were friends one summer at the pool." Who forgets who they shared the foxhole of a summer pregnancy with?
Through those summers I bounced my babies in their floppy hats up and down in the water, held onto chubby toddler fingers saying "kick kick kick" while they proudly wiggled their legs back and forth, caught kids jumping off the side into my arms, heard "Mom watch this" a thousand times, tossed quarters from the side so they could dive for them, was Marco to their Polo, grabbed them when they came up choking on water, and played Motor Boat - twirling them round and round, faster and faster, until they motor boated right out of my hands.
"Again," they'd say over and over.
When it was time to leave we'd pack up our wet towels, sunscreen, and empty baggies of goldfish and drive home in a stifling hot car - bloodshot eyes and a trail of chlorine wafting behind us. Exhausted from the sun and swimming, the three of them would flop on the floor and watch cartoons - too tired to argue over whose turn it was to pick.
Sometimes we'd go twice in one day - our standing afternoon date and then again after dinner when their dad could come along. He would play monster or dinosaur, chasing them, grabbing a hold of them and flinging them in the air. "Not so high," I would say. "Higher," they'd say and he could motor boat those slippery, little, squealing kids right into the deep end. Swimming their way back to him they'd tap him and say, "Do it again, Dad."
One by one they peeled away from me and our trips to the pool What kid in middle school wants to be seen anywhere with their mom and siblings? My daily appointment with three kids got reduced to two and then one until eventually we stopped going all together. You would think such a momentous occasion as the last trip to our favorite summertime place would be something I remembered but I don't. The end came like many ends do - quietly and without a proper farewell.
I went back once more - by myself this time to the adult pool where the grass wasn't nearly as green as I had been led to believe. From where I sat I could see a new group of moms bouncing babies in floppy hats, pulling a toddler by their chubby fingers reminding them to "kick kick kick", all while keeping a watchful eye on the older ones who were step by step inching their brave toes into the deep end.
Take a snapshot, Mama, of these ordinary summer days I was tempted to say. You don't know it yet but time is the fastest motor boat of all.