cartoonLittle boys are stinky … and it only gets worse in the summer. Imagine an olfactory mixture of worm guts, asphalt and wet dog. So I make my boys bathe. They hate this. I yell, demand and threaten just to get them into the tub each night. What confounds me about their dislike of bathing is their absolute love of swimming. Can anyone explain this to me? I mean, isn’t a swimming pool basically a super-humongous bathtub? Anyway, instead of fighting with them about personal hygiene, I take them to our local pool. A lot. Based on our almost daily visits, I’ve noticed a few things: 

  • Beware the baby pool! Nothing says bio-hazard like this shallow infant oasis. And why can’t we just call it what it is? It’s a pee pond. Yes, there’s a reason why the water temperature hovers at a steady 98.6 degrees. Nevertheless, mothers flock to it. They shyly giggle as their adorable newborns scrunch-up their wee faces and bear down into their swim diapers. Let’s face it, the baby area puts the poo in pool … literally. 
  • It’s sink or swim in the deep end. The big pool is not much better. I am on high alert the entire time my kids are swimming here. To be honest, I don’t trust that the 16 year-old lifeguard, sunning himself in that oversized highchair, is going to rescue my child if he goes under. So I equip my kids with water wings and flotation devices. But what does it matter? Vigilant as I am, I always end up losing sight of one of my boys. Thus begins my frantic scan across a sea of tiny bobbing heads. I sort by hair color and mentally cross off the good swimmers. Finally I spot him—flailing like a steerage passenger the night the Titanic sank. And the lifeguard? Oh he’s checking out the babe-a-licious vixen in the bikini. 

Illustration by Bridgette Blanton. Visit her website.

And when the kids start playing, guess what they're playing with …

  • Inflatable fun has a formula. I may not be very math-y, but I have found that the degree to which your child bellyaches over bringing a toy to the pool is inversely proportionate to the amount of time he will actually play with said toy. Remember the snorkels, flippers and 4-person raft (complete with oars) you broke your back lugging to the pool today? The ones your children swore they would play with the whole time? They will sit, abandoned, next to your towel. But that discarded plastic cup Suzy found in the parking lot on the way in? That piece of refuse will bring her unending joy for the entire afternoon.
  • It’s not a bathroom, it’s a science experiment. I strongly suspect the sheer number of germs present in the pool bathroom would keep the CDC busy for decades. But when you have to go, you have to go. So I march my crew into the Petri dish; our flip-flops squishing through the papier mache mixture on the floor. After locking ourselves in the stall, I wrestle my son’s bathing suit off him. Not an easy task since it’s suctioned to his skin like an octopus tentacle. However, in one grand heave, it finally comes loose … and falls to the floor. It must now be burned. 
  • The final rinse. Showering at our public swimming pool is the closest I have come to experiencing what a life of incarceration would be like, so I try to get out of there fast. I dump globs of shampoo on my children’s heads and quickly lather them up. Oddly, despite the vast array of temperature settings on the dial, there are really only two options: iceberg and lava. This actually speeds things up and the next thing you know we’re dodging the rogue, floating Band-aids on our way to the locker room. 

As I jockey towels to shield our nakedness, while simultaneously navigating dry underwear over tiny wet feet, I begin to reconsider my battle against little boy stink. Maybe my kids are right. Smelling like worm guts isn’t so bad, is it? I mean, compared to the baby pool …

Jane Suter is one funny mom. To share some of your own parenting experiences with Jane, email her.

Illustration by Bridgette Blanton. Visit her website.

Have any hilarious pool stories to share? We'd love to hear them!