Last Friday is a day I want to remember for the rest of my life, even though it started out with embarrassingly public screaming and crying. It was another day that I bonded with my son.
For the second straight year in a row my son has hated the pool. In the moment, Erica and I were trying to think of a million and one reasons why he might feel the need to scream at the top of his lungs whenever his toes got wet, like maybe it’s too noisy in here, or maybe he got water in his eyes, or maybe he just didn’t appreciate me taking him down the kiddie slide as soon as we bust through the doors? Even when I was sitting with him in the zero depth entry pool he would cry like he was being tortured.
[For the record, staring at me doesn't help, people. And no, I'm not just going to go home. Do you know how long it took us just to pack up and get here?!]
I took him out of the pool, set him on my lap and wrapped a big blanket towel around the two of us and gave him some goldfish to munch on. Maybe he was cold? Maybe he was hungry? After his snack I attempted to take him back in the pool again which immediately triggered shrill screams and the flailing of small chubby limbs. Back to the pool chairs I went and held him on my lap again. Now he was sitting perfectly still and leaning back on me just relaxing.
Eventually, I was able to wade waist deep in the water while holding him up against my chest so he wasn’t getting wet. Standing still in the water Pax would bury his face in my neck, but he was OK. If I moved, he would rear his head up and make the saddest frown-y face you have ever seen. I began to dip ever so slightly into the water, at first just getting his toes wet, then up to his ankles. Each time he would jerk up and give a cry but each time his cry became a little weaker and less convincing. Finally I had him so the water was up to his belly and I could walk slowly around the pool with him. Then he did the cutest thing and fell asleep in my arms.
There I was standing in the middle of the public pool holding my son, basketballs flying through the air around me, kids screaming as they splashed their way down the pirate ship slides. It was a moment of connection. A time of bonding.
Then after a few minutes of this he completely changed! Maybe he WAS tired! Now he got hold of a basketball and I would bop it from underneath so it would land just a little in front of us and then I would run (is that the right word, we were in a pool?) towards it until his outstretched hands could grab both sides. We were laughing and splashing and having a great time, father and son. For maybe the first time, he wanted no one else to hold him. Just me. And I was loving it!