I’m Sorry, But A Big Part Of Being A Dad Is Taking Your Kids To The Hotel Pool
Once the water was above my waist, I looked at my wife, who was sitting comfortably on a beach chair, a book in her lap, and mouthed, "It's so cold"
We were in the Oregon Mountains, renting a house for the weekend, that was part of a HOA with a pool, and my wife, who conveniently "forgot her swimming suit" (well played, I must say) told our children (4, 9, and 11) that we could go swimming. According to the thermostat on the van, it was 57 degrees. The owner of the house said the pool was heated, but unless she's from Siberia, she lied. Each step deeper, each splash, each ripple felt like Alaska.
The tall white teenager checking people into the clubhouse was in a hoodie and long pants. As we walked past him, he had a somber look on his face that seemed to say, "Are you sure about this?" There were three people in the pool when we arrived. Two skinny freckle-faced white kids with chattering teeth, and some grey haired lady swimming laps as comfortably as a polar bear.
Before we hit the pool, I made suggestions. I said we could play hide-and-seek in the new house. I said we could go for another hike. I even offered to take them for ice cream. It didn't matter. I didn't want to go swimming, but when you are on vacation and you are the father of young children, it doesn't really matter what you want. The pool could be 55 percent urine. It could have a glacier. It could have the man-eating fish dinosaur from Jurassic World waiting for a hot meal. You are going swimming, because going swimming is what dads do on vacation.
It's the only way to stop them from asking.
They laughed and told me it wasn't that cold. They splashed me, and cringed. They hung from me. I caught them as the jumped from the side of the pool, each time dreading the moment their bodies hit the water because I knew it would throw freezing water into my face. I played HORSE with my son on a flimsy basketball hoop attached to the side of the pool, the balls sun faded, and between each shot, I looked over at my wife snug in her jacket and dry pants, who sometimes winked at me, but mostly buried her nose in her warm and dry book.
"I kind of hate you right now." I didn't say it. But I thought it.
At one point I looked at my 9-year-old, her lips matching her blue swimming suit, skin tight across her body, and said, "You're freezing."
She shook her head and said, "No I'm not." Then she splashed me in the face.
Once it was all said and done, and I'd dragged the 4-year-old out of the clubhouse under my arm like a kicking and screaming surfboard, I knew by the time I got them all bathed, and it was my turn for a shower, we'd be out of hot water.
I don't know how long we spent in that pool. 20 minutes? 30 minuets? An eternity? But what I do know is that night, as I tucked my 4-year-old Aspin into bed, I asked if she'd had fun on our vacation. She smiled and nodded her blonde little head. And when I asked what her favorite part was, she didn't mention the hike. She didn't mention our drive, or all the amazing animals we saw. She didn't even mention our trip to McDonald's for lunch. All she talked about was the pool. I tucked the older two in after her, and they said the same thing, going on and on about how awesome the pool was. How much fun they had, and how they wanted to go back first thing in the morning before we left to go home.
"Yeah…" I said. "Maybe…"
And as I closed the bedroom door after the last tuck-in, I felt this warm unexpected feeling in my chest. I smiled a little, and thought about our trip to the pool. Although I hated every minute, as I thought about my children's reactions, how happy they were because of our short trip to the pool, I felt like maybe, just maybe, it was worth it.
Clint Edwards is the author of I'm Sorry. Love, Your Husband, and the funny and insightful No Idea What I'm Doing: A Daddy Blog. He is a staff writer for the very popular (and awesome) Scary Mommy. His work has been discussed on Good Morning America, The View, The Talk, and The Today Show. Everyone from Whoopi Goldberg to Sharon Osbourne to Kathie Lee Gifford has agreed with his take on parenting and marriage. He's also a parenting contributor to the New York Times, The Washington Post, The Huffington Post, Disney's Babble, and elsewhere. You can follow him on Facebook and Twitter.