But aside from that, the water park has provided hours of fun for my kids. For me it usually means trying to avoid horribly embarrassing positions in my swimsuit while I chase my toddler all over the park trying to navigate my flip-flops on slippery concrete. Bending over to pick her up requires extreme caution, as I usually experience a severe wardrobe malfunction during the process.
I'm not too fond of actually getting into the pool, but when you have a terrifyingly unpredictable 3 year old who likes to jump in without any warning, there is no way around it. Even with a flotation device she is a menace. The gray hairs on my head are a testament to how many near heart attacks I've had because of her. I really should pack a defibrillator in my beach bag (along with all the food I try to sneak in).
I am also deathly afraid of waterborne bacteria that may exist in those pools, especially the baby pool. There's nothing like seeing your kid take a big unintentional gulp of 90-degree water, and then spotting a mom lifting her baby out of the same pool with one of those waterlogged swim diapers hanging from the kid's tush that has obviously not contained everything it's supposed to.
I guess I shouldn't worry too much, as the amount of chlorine they put in the pool fades your bathing suit on contact and turns your hair to straw. You can see evidence of this as you're leaving the water park. Kids waiting for their parents outside sit there on the grass holding wet towels over their bloodshot eyeballs as if they have been exposed to an accidental chemical release. For first-timers, I strongly suggest goggles.
Last week I visited the water park with three of my kids. Of course, the boys wanted to swim in the sport pool, where flotation devices are forbidden.
My toddler thinks she can swim, but only because she wears a vest. Without the vest she sinks like a stone, but she repeatedly yelled, "Let me go! Let me go!" And so I did. She sank like a stone.
I pulled her up sputtering and belching chlorine, but unexpectedly her entire lunch came up with it. I believe it was a hamburger and peaches. Most of it was deposited into the top of my tankini. I pushed her up onto the side of the pool, where she continued purging her lunch in full view of the lifeguard who towered high above us on her chair.
When she realized what had happened, she blew her whistle long and hard. It was like the Baby Ruth scene in "Caddyshack." Once the kids in the pool got an eyeful of what had happened, screaming and mass evacuation took place.
I tried to carefully extract myself from the pool without releasing more of the mess into the water. I failed. My toddler was crying. I ran to the bathroom, one hand clutching her, the other hand trying to hide the mess on my chest. My sons pretended they didn't know us. Hey, I didn't want to know us!
To top it off, there was no soap in the bathroom. I knew my daughter was OK when she began pleading for French fries from the snack bar as I flushed out my bathing suit top at the sink. Thanks to us, the pool was closed for 45 minutes.
I guess this horrid scenario could have been avoided had my toddler known how to swim, and my kids usually do attend swim school. I love Carson Swim School in Brentwood, but last year it didn't really work out. For eight days my toddler spent every minute of her half-hour private lesson screaming for me. I tried bribing her with promises of candy from the Banana Cabana, but she cried anyway, and I still bought the candy.
The year before that, my 6 year old got stuck with an annoying little boy who pulled the same stunt as my daughter. I was irritated because it was miserable for my son, who actually wanted to learn how to swim and looked forward to the class. For seven days this other kid moaned and threw a fit.
Most of the time his mom hid in her car and made phone calls, but on the last day her kid actually pulled it together. I brought my video camera to record my son's accomplishments. Even though he was saddled with a whiner, he ended up doing very well.
The whiner's mom came and sat next to me. For a while she was quiet. The video rolled, capturing her son and mine doing baby dives off the edge of the pool and doing the back stroke, sort of.
Then out of the blue she said, "You know, from the first time I laid eyes on your son I thought to myself, 'That kid looks just like Stanley Roper from Three's Company.'" I sat there for a minute absorbing what she had just said, my mind pulling into focus the face of Stanley Roper --- a 65-year-old, wrinkled-up, crabby landlord with a face similar to that of the Crypt Keeper.
On the video, captured for all eternity, you can watch as my camera heads slowly down to the concrete. On the tape you can hear me ask her, "What did you say?!" I think she suddenly realized that what she had said was a huge insult and she tried to make amends by adding "and he's such a good little swimmer." But I didn't buy it. To this day the theme song from "Three's Company" really ticks me off.
Maybe next year I'll sign the kids up for lessons again and give it another try. But until then, if you're at the water park and you hear the lifeguard blow her whistle, you may want to get out of the pool. Fast.