Grandma came home, and it was a free-for-all. I don't think I could have been any happier, surrounded by three children (all bouncing), gazing over their heads at their mother and grandfather.
They were about to begin a swim lesson on this hot day, but were momentarily distracted by the appearance of their grandmother at the pool. Grandpa had brought her straight from the airport and they had not known - thus, the amiable free-for-all. They came running from all directions and my hands were suddenly grasped, my neck hugged, my waist squeezed.
"Grandma! You CAME!" shouted one.
"You've been gone SO LONG!" intoned another. The third just stood and looked up at me, patting my arm and smiling. Just about every configuration of love was offered and received. It was what you might call the perfect moment.
Nevertheless, when it was time they obediently trouped over to their swim instructors and began. But for those several perfect moments, they were all mine.
Occasionally from the pool would come furtive glances over at Grandma, as if to be certain she was still there. They smiled and did their best and demonstrated their skills, from jumping in and swimming after a rubber ducky (the littlest) to the American Crawl, back stroke, and diving board (the two more serious swimmers). Of course Grandma thought it was all splendid.
Thus begins the summer. And it was interesting how I had this feeling of deja vu, a feeling of having been there before. Every summer of our parenthood was spent in just that way, in swimming pools all over this land, north and south. Little ones learning to not only survive in water, but to conquer it. I know of at least one little girl who is an enthusiastic diver already, and wants to be on an Olympic dive team. A grand plan! No rubber duckies for this one. It is all business with her.
A successful summer takes a lot of work, you know. Children can't just run around willy-nilly with no plan. Their mother must organize it all, signing everyone up for the variety of lessons kindly offered by a benevolent city (for a fee, of course). That's the way it works.
It's how you keep parents and children from going crazy throughout these long, hot days. And pretty soon, just about the time the mothers can hardly wait for school to start again, it actually does. Boys and girls will once again line up at the door and enter, pencils in hand, while their folks breathe a sigh of relief - and think back gratefully on another summer well spent.
It's the American Way.
See you along it!