The Gift of a Morning

We went up to my parent’s community pool today. It had been a few days since we’d gone. The weather (and life) had limited our trips there. Today was one of those rare late mornings that, to me, are lovely to spend outside: warm but slightly overcast, the mildly ominous rustle of leaves high in the trees threatening rain and more. It had kept people away too, so we had the baby pool to ourselves and our older kids had most of the big pool to themselves.

Mr3yo found two little floating toys. “Horses!” he told me and he was so pleased with them that I barely had the heart to tell him that I was pretty sure they were unicorns. He was insistent. “Horses!” I recalled an episode of This American Life where people were relating false beliefs that they had held into past when it was appropriate. One woman explained that her family had eaten the exact same dinner every night (I can’t remember what it was but I’m pretty sure there was chicken involved) and it wasn’t until she was in college that she realized that not everyone did that. Another woman remembered the exact conversation that she had as an adult when she realized that unicorns are mythical creatures. The unicorn woman seemed alright. So I decided that maybe knowing the difference between a horse and a unicorn wasn’t going to impact his kindergarten readiness.

All of this took place, of course, in a matter of seconds, in flashes of thought and remembrances.

I found a rainbow colored ball in the grassy spot under a maple tree in the corner of the fenced in baby pool area and tossed it into the pool. Mr3yo eventually found it and abandoned the unicorn-horses in favor of the ball, which he kicked and then chased into the grass, giggling. Over and over. I could see how his brain and body were collaborating to predict the movement of the ball. I usually discourage him from running around the pool but we were alone and, truth be told, living in a pandemic, part of me needs to let my kids find joy where they can. And, honestly, I need to too. And he kept laughing each time he kicked the ball away from himself, each time he chased after it, whether or not he caught up to it.

An older woman paused on her way towards the exit to watch him run and kick and laugh.

The rain started as a few drops here and there, which I could dodge. And then a little heavier to where I stayed dry under the maple tree. Mr3yo took the ball into the pool and was throwing and chasing it in there. Already soaking wet, he looked up at the sky as if just noticing the rain and exclaimed, “Oh no!” to himself, worried, perhaps that the rain would mean we’d have to leave soon.

I carried our bags of try things to underneath some nearby pool house eaves and his older sisters joined us when adult swim started in the big pool: Ms11yo with me on the dry bench and Ms8yo with Mr3yo in the baby pool, which they still had to themselves. Ms8yo fiddled with one of the fountain spouts until she was able to close it, leaving only one spout open. She screamed with delight when she saw how high the one open fountain arced, now that she had directed all of the water pressure away from multiple openings and into that one. “Look!” she told us. Her sister and I smiled at each other, infected with her excitement. “She’s so happy,” I said.

The two younger ones played in the rain until the sun came out and it was time to leave.

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