Poolside tales from Grammy

Sunday, July 11, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 11:22 a.m. CDT, Wednesday, July 2, 2008

I’m very proud of the fact that most of my grandchildren can swim. And the two who can’t are too young. One of my more eager daughters-in-law decided that her firstborn was going to learn how to swim before he could even sit up. She took him to the pool and the instructor threw him into the water. (She didn’t really THROW him in, but it sounds much more dramatic.) Apparently my grandson hadn’t forgotten survival in the womb because he automatically held his breath. I would like to report that he took off like a tadpole, but after holding his breath for a few seconds, he dropped like a rock. I think the experience scarred him because he wouldn’t go near the water again until he was 3.

My other children decided that their kids would learn to swim at a later age. But by the time little boys are 2, they have no fear. I watched my youngest grandson walk right into the pool last weekend — clothes and all. I followed him (also fully clothed) and grabbed him by the collar. He came up sputtering but smiling, thinking this was a great game. I placed him on the step and he proceeded to strip — diaper and all. When he was naked, his older sister started whining that she wanted to be naked, too. Within seconds she was in her birthday suit. I, on the other hand, decided to keep my soaking wet clothes on.

For the next half-hour my two grandchildren frolicked in the pool with Grammy. At one point my grandson felt the urge. Even though he’s not quite potty trained, he had the presence of mind to get out of the pool and direct his spray toward the fence. He then announced “All done,” and jumped back into the pool.

Little girls are born knowing to be cautious around water – sometimes too cautious. You don’t want to push these little ones into getting into the pool too soon. I have one granddaughter who spent the entire summer when she was 4 sitting on the edge of the pool with only her feet touching the water. And God help anyone who would “accidentally” splash her. She would jump up and run to her mother, saying that someone was trying to “drowned” her.

Now that the older children can swim, my work is really cut out for me. When they were younger they enjoyed swimming laps. I’d stand in the middle of the pool and “help” those who couldn’t quite make the length of the pool.

Now they’re into water sports. Not tame games like volleyball. But scary activities like bombardment. Instead of using the soft oversized vinyl ball, the boys want to bring the soccer ball to the pool. After I nix that attempt, they become very adept in using the beach ball as a torpedo. Every five minutes one of the girls lets out a yelp. “GRAAAAMMMY! He’s hurting me again!”

“One more time and you’re out of the pool!” I yell, using my most intimidating voice.

The boys wait just long enough that they think I’ve forgotten and then WHAM and another granddaughter gets belted with the ball. Of course this time it’s not the same kid I’ve just reprimanded so the “one more time and you’re out of the pool” doesn’t count.

After the third “Grammy!” I’ve had it and I take away the ball.

You would think that would be the end of it. Not two minutes later I hear a distress call. The boys have decided to play a game I call “who can stay under the water the longest when being held down.” That’s when I tell everyone it’s time to get out of the pool. This decree is followed by the GIRLS saying they’ll be good and pleading to let everyone stay in the water. (Go figure.)

I have one rule that I will not have broken. There will be NO diving into the pool. As the grandkids get older they have tried the art of compromise.

“Grammy, can we do a racing dive?”

A true racing dive is very shallow, and I know that the kids love to compete so I acquiesced. The next thing I know, one of the boys is doing a flip into the water.

“I said no diving other than when you’re racing each other.”

“We are racing, Grammy, but I’m too good for them so they dive and I flip to give them a head start.”


When I hear the young ones announce that swimming is “boring,” I know it’s time to go back to school. My 15-year-old grandson has already made that proclamation, but he doesn’t really mean it. It’s his hormones talking and I’m not listening. His idea of fun has nothing to do with swimming. And I’m certainly not going to let him bring a female to my back yard. Not until he’s twentysomething.

If you have a comment or know where I can find a whistle, please e-mail me at

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