"Aaron, put your bathing suit on.
Leave the lockers alone and put your bathing suit on.
Stop slamming the lockers!
Are you kidding me?! Put on your BATHING SUIT! Do you want to go home right now?
Take your clothes off!
Finally. Now put on your bathing suit.
Pick your clothes up off the floor.
I don't want your clothes, I'm trying to get Harper dressed, can you please just put them away?
No! Not there! That bag doesn't belong to us! Put them in OUR bag!"
This doesn't include trying to put on sunscreen, trying to get everything packed up, trying to organize which bags have clothes, which have toys, which have wet stuff, which have dry stuff, where the snacks are...oh, and the fact that there's a very bossy and non-compliant two year old involved in this whole process, who chooses extraordinarily inconvenient times to poop. By the time we walk onto the pool deck, I need a cocktail and a babysitter. (And have I mentioned that neither child can swim even a little bit?)
Aaron has been making great strides in the past couple of months regarding water. In spring of this year, getting him to take a shower was the equivalent of branding him with a hot iron (in his opinion). But since we've been going to the pool, I started a deal with him- he has to walk under the umbrella of water thing in the splash park before he's allowed to go in the pool. If he doesn't do it, we leave. (He's always done it). He's been doing really well, and is putting his face in the water without me even asking. This week he started swimming lessons and was doing a great job at tossing sinking toys into the pool and ducking his whole head under to go get them.
I know it sounds cruel, but I have to have some level of comfort with him in the 24 inches of water at the kids' pool, since Harper and I spend an enormous amount of time in the locker room changing dirty diapers that have been marinated in chlorine water (for which I deserve a medal, truly. If she ever gets constipated, all I have to do is put her in a one piece tricky-to-get-on bathing suit, and I'm sure the problem will be solved).
Since we've been going to the pool a lot this summer, we've gotten our little system down. Today, though, Harper and I walked over to where Aaron was playing and he immediately handed me his toys and jumped out of the water, telling me "I have to go potty".
So I get Harper out and we walk after him and I yell "wait up, buddy!", and he turns his head and yells to me "I can go by myself!" Well, I guess theoretically he could, but he's not able to open the doors to the locker room without help, so we caught up to him. And he was pulling on the handle of the men's locker room. I said "we're right here, bud, let's go in this one" (pointing to the women's locker room, which is where we all get dressed and he's always gone to the bathroom before).
"No, I really want to go in this one. It's for boys."
My heart just flipped over, because it's something so insignificant, but it's somehow so profound, too. I know he needs to start going in the men's room by himself, but how am I supposed to know who's in there? What if some Bad Guy is stashed away in there? What if Aaron starts playing in the urinals? What if he needs help, or decides to go out the other door that leads into the gym, and he gets lost? Or some crazy person takes him? (And truly, they would have to be crazy to take on that one). I know my whole job as a parent is to put myself out of business, to make it so they don't need me anymore, but it still stings to the core when you go through a rite of passage that's a definitive marker that "I've outgrown my need for you for this task". I know I should be happy that he doesn't want me to take him to the bathroom, but it's so scary and so sad at the same time- I'm convinced he needs me because God knows what evils lurk in that locker room, but he's equally convinced that he's completely and totally fine without me.
Right then a group of 4 teenage boys walked out of the locker room, so he had his in, and he held the door open, looked at me and asked if it was okay. I said "okay", and he told me "you don't have to go in with me". The teenagers were holding the door for him, and my heart broke when I told him "I can't go with you there. You have to go alone".
One of those teenagers looked at Aaron, and looked at me and smiled a really sweet, comforting smile, and I watched my boy go into the men's room by himself. Harper and I stood there for what seemed like days, and of course I had to poke my head in (just once!) to ask if he was okay, and of course he was. And then, what do you know, he walked right out- hands washed, ready to go play again, nothing out of the ordinary.
At least, not that he noticed.