– written by Amy Hammond-Hagberg and photos by me –
For much of our recent vacation, my daughter and I stayed with my niece Dena and her wonderful family. Their beautiful home is situated amidst the heavily wooded, narrow twisting lanes of a Bay Area paradise. What a great place to grow up; no mosquitoes or blizzards there!
Dena’s life as a mother is crazy busy. From dawn until dusk she is running her two kids, Jensen (7) and Boden (4), to one activity or another—swimming, tennis, ballet, play dates, or day camp to name a few—yet she still manages to make nutritious home-cooked meals and teach Pilates. The whole business was a little overwhelming for me; so much so that I suggested that she might want to think about dialing back a little bit.
It wasn’t until I was on the plane home that I realized what a hypocrite I was. When our kids were little, my husband and I scrambled around to deposit them at one activity or another too—soccer, baseball, football, basketball, dancing lessons, karate, day camp, music lessons, church activities, play dates (we didn’t call them that way back them)—all while hubby and I both worked full-time jobs. I need a Calgon moment just thinking about it.
On one of our days with Dena’s family I had the pleasure of “babysitting” the two kids at the neighborhood pool while Mom helped some women do torturous exercises. Jensen is a little fish, and has swim practice, a lesson, or a meet almost every day of the week. I have no doubt she will be wearing the red, white, and blue of the US Olympic Swim Team one day.
Always the nervous mother (or auntie in this case), I watched her out of the corner of my eye to make sure all was well even though she was surrounded by coaches. She was easy to spot amongst the other swimmers… Jensie’s favorite color is pink.
While she had swimming practice, BoBo got to play in the special shallow triangle of the pool that is set aside for little people. With an eagle eye I sat in the stands watching his every move, determined that nothing bad would happen on my watch. It was fun to see him dogpaddling around the crystal clear water without a care in the world. He didn’t care that he had globs of white sunscreen smeared all over his face or that his aunt had made a pathetic mess of his goggles and his ears were sticking out. He just wanted to play!
No matter where or when you grew up, you had to deal with mean kids, and this swim club was no exception. I watched as three mean boys managed their turf in the shallow end, yelling at the unsuspecting younger kids if they wandered over an imaginary line and into their territory.
In his frenzy to have fun, little BoBo jumped recklessly into the pool, almost landing on top of one of the mean kids…oops. When they were done yelling at him, I walked quietly over to the side of the pool and talked to BoBo. He didn’t understand the whole boundary thing, so I reminded him to always look carefully to make sure no one was in the way before he jumped into the pool. For the rest of the day, he looked over at me to get the thumbs-up before taking the plunge.
Of course the little guy forgot about the whole episode in a nanosecond, but I stewed about it for a while. Oh to be a kid again!