Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Pool

The weather turned warm today after a couple days of rain. Why it's pouring at the end of June is a disturbing question. Our poor, confused Mother Earth.

Ben's out of town and the girls aren't in camp (Mihiretu's in half-day camps all summer - I'm not a total masochist). While they're mostly a pleasure, the constant picking of fights and pleading for treats is starting to get me down. We've hit that point in the summer where the delicious sense of freedom has worn off and the whining begins. For them and for me. I've been feeling starved for adult interaction - inundated by children - so I sent out an email early this afternoon rallying some of my favorite pals to meet at the community pool.

We hit the pool when it opened at one. Hour after hour went by and no friends appeared. Mae was irate, threatening, between mouthfuls of nori, to walk the mile home. Lana, too, decided that she was bored. For girls that don't want to go to camp, their boredom threshold is awfully low. I told them we had to stay until four, then we could throw in the towel, so to speak. I can't ever remember being bored with the pool when I was a kid but then again my mother's entire day wasn't centered around me so hours of swimming was unheard of.

At four o'clock, on cue, our friends began trickling in. The girls were already in the shower and though I tried to tempt them back to the pool, ticking off beloved names on my fingers, they weren't into it. We worked out a deal. They would walk home together and I'd drive with Mihiretu later and meet them there.

Mihiretu was in the shallow end, splashing happily with Ephraim (the other Ethiopian adoptee in these parts, you'd be impressed how much they're mistaken for each other). I seated myself pool-side, so happily chatting (okay, bitching) with my friends, Elizabeth and Chrissy. My extrovert tank was slowly refilling.

Then Elizabeth turned to me and said, "Mihiretu just threw up in the pool."

I looked past her and, indeed, Mihiretu was standing knee deep in water on the pool step, surveying a spreading blob of vomit.

I dropped my sarong and leaped in after him, madly scooping nori-ish puke onto the pool deck. Chrissy and Elizabeth were laughing, searching for some kind of scooping mechanism, warning kids to back away from the stairs.

A teenage lifeguard approached cautiously.

"My kid puked in the pool," I said, skimming bile off the surface of the water.

"Oh," he said, stumped, picking at a pimple on his chin. "I'll have to talk to my supervisor about that." He skittered away.

I managed to lift Mihiretu from the pool. I was reaching for a towel when Elizabeth sidled up to me.

"They're closing the pool," she said, stifling giggles. Sure enough, a whistle sounded and forty-some people swam for the ladders.

I wrapped Mihiretu in his towel and led him to the showers, passing clumps of dripping teenagers, moms, and kids murmuring that some kid puked in the pool.

I apologized to the lifeguard, explaining that Mihiretu isn't sick, he just has a hair-trigger gag reflex. He said sweetly, "It's no problem. Don't be embarrassed."

The funny thing was, I wasn't really embarrassed. I'm so used to standing out at this point, as the mother of this child, that puke in the pool seemed like no biggie. He hadn't screamed "Fucka-my-butt" or thrown a spectacular tantrum. He hadn't growled menacingly at another kid or firmly told a lady that he wasn't sorry he had slapped her on the bottom. This was just run-of-the-mill, it could happen to anyone.

Except. There's something about Mihiretu, beyond his tragic beginnings and his transplantation from rural Ethiopia to ultra-wealthy Marin County, beyond the fact that his skin is a different color than his family's, that's unique. He is a kid who lives large. He screeches unreachable high notes, he performs rapid, joyous karate on any near victim, he rides his bike out of the saddle all the way to school, faster than I ever could, like it was the last stage of the Tour de France, he cheerfully wrestles me to the blanket at the farmer's market and manages to pin me, a person who is three times his body weight. He pukes in the pool and he just keeps trucking.

We edged into the communal shower with the crowd and then quickly dressed. I said nothing to these relative strangers that the reason for the disruption of our hot afternoon pleasure was this little naked boy now playing delightedly with his penis. I did pass my friend, Nicole, on the way out, however, and we quietly laughed that I had invited her to join me at the pool only to have my son promptly shut it down.

As we were getting in the car to go home, Chrissy asked if Mihiretu could come to their house for dinner. He enthusiastically nodded his head and unbuckled his seat-belt. I gave him a kiss and gratefully watched him walk away with Chrissy, hand in hand. If I had puked in the pool, I probably wouldn't be accepting dinner invitations, either out of shame or sickness. But Mihiretu is Mihiretu, a force to be reckoned with. Especially if you swim too close.

1 comment:

  1. You have very lovely kids. At their age, it is natural for them to easily get bored. In this light, it is a good idea to always prepare a list of activities that they can engage in. Spending the day swimming is a sure way to keep boredom at bay. Just remember to properly supervise them while they are in the water.