Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The Pool Rules

In the last two days, my children have spent 6 hours in a swimming pool. We do not have a pool in our back yard. Part of me wishes we did, because, oh how summer would ROCK. But, I also know that pools require a bit of upkeep. I don't do well with upkeep. There can only be one high maintenance being in a family, and while a pool isn't actually a being, it would vie for that spot with my almost-teenage daughter. I love her, but bless her heart, sometimes she makes me understand why some animals eat their young. So instead of a back yard pool, it was either become very good friends with people who already have a pool, or join the neighborhood pool. Since we just moved here in October and apparently haven't made the best impression on some people, well, neighborhood pool it is!

Unlike our last neighborhood, the HOA fees don't cover pool dues. Here, if you want to swim, you have to pay. And rather than walk two blocks to the pool like we did in our previous neighborhood, we must drive to this pool. It's not far, but there is an extremely busy street to cross and it's a good stretch of the legs from our house. Rather than listen to the children (and my husband) whine, we drive. Yes, you may blame the state of the environment upon us.

I really like this pool. It's larger, which is great. The shallow end seems to go on forever and while it's not a zero clearance entry, it starts out really shallow, so my youngest feels like she is Michael Phelps. They have a basketball goal. There are a bazillion and two (that's the official count) lounge chairs. We have not one, but two baby pools. The bathrooms are clean and nicely finished. There is a swim team. They offer swim lessons. There is a concession stand. (Not that we have partaken of that little bit of Nirvana, as I pack a cooler with snacks.) The lifeguards, while vigilant, have no problem with people having a good time. In short, it's a pretty sweet deal. It wasn't cheap, but when you compare it to joining a pool somewhere else and driving even farther, or *gulp* putting in your own pool, well, I think we're getting a pretty good value.

When I compare it with the pool from our old neighborhood the pros beat out the cons. Our old neighborhood pool was just for our neighborhood, while this one is for several, so there might have been fewer people on the weekends, but joining here is optional. If you didn't pay your HOA fees at the old neighborhood, you weren't supposed to be able to use the pool. But the guards didn't check tags, so this wasn't enforced. Hence (I love that I just used the word "hence") people who didn't pay, got to play anyway. Our old pool was smaller. The lifeguards at our old pool could sometimes act as if they were given the Keys to the Kingdom. As a former lifeguard, I understand the need to keep things safe and under control, but, well, there's control and then there's control. Our old pool had a designated snacking area. A pro when you've stepped on soggy Cheezits, but a con when the pool is crowded. Also, our old pool's guest fee policy was an extremely frugal-friendly $1 per guest. Nice. And it was rarely enforced. Even nicer! (Even more nice? Um, nicer yet? Yes, I got A's in English.) At this pool, they give you a measly two guest passes per season and the guest fee is $5 dollars per guest. And it is strictly enforced. Great for keeping the Riffraff out. Except when the Riffraff is you and your friends and family. Ahem.

We paid the Early Bird dues and didn't have the opportunity (due to baseball and weather) to try out the new pool until Sunday. I just have this to say: whoever discovered the effects of chlorination upon water should be canonized. Ahhhh, St. Chlorine. I would worship at her altar Every. Day. There are not enough words to explain what a gift it is to have children who are so tired that come bedtime, they actually go to bed. We haven't had such quiet around here at 9 p.m. since school let out! I love it. I cannot enumerate the many ways that I love this particular thing. Swimming is good. Swimming should be a compulsory subject every day that children will be sleeping at home. FOREVER AND EVER WORLD WITHOUT END AMEN!

So, while I may not be able to convince my beloved that in the long run a back yard pool would be a good investment, he knows enough to commit to paying to join a neighborhood pool.

Pool dues: $xxx
Hours spent at the pool in the summer: approximately 168.
Hours of quiet, blissful bedtime where parents can sip adult beverages and make out: approximately 252.
Price of said bedtime: PRICELESS!

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