Sunday, July 31, 2011

Pool Side Lessons

Learning really does happen all the time, summer included. Recently, we've had more pool side life lessons than I can count, none of them involving curriculum, but all of them things I'm hoping my kids take note of, as they will probably make life a whole lot easier.

Lesson 1:  Neglect: If you love something, or even if you just want to have it around a while, you might want to actually take care of it. When you neglect things, they are generally much more work to fix than if you had just maintained them in the first place.
We had some trouble with our pool filter at the end of last summer and not to name names, but a certain man that I am married to neglected to add chemicals or run it at all while I was out of town for 5 days. It was about 100 degrees and the pool had a solar cover on it, so we came home to a big, warm swamp. Honestly, it was beyond overwhelming, and since the weather started to cool off, we just left it covered and forgot about it all winter.
Fast forward to this spring... it was hideous. The weather was getting hot and we had 12,000 gallons of stinking, nasty water to clean up. We couldn't just drain it and start over for a couple of reasons- namely, my well will not easily give up 12,000 gallons of water, and even if we did have that much water, the liner is not meant to dry out once it's been installed, and where on earth could I dump all that salt water anyway?
We vowed not to neglect it in such an extreme way again, but in the mean time, we had to clean it up. Let me tell you, it was SO MUCH WORK, which leads me to my next lesson.

Lesson 2: Persistence and Hard Work - it often pays off, at least in this case it did, but I'm not kidding when I say it was hard. I am not exactly an expert at manual labor, and dismantling and scrubbing filters 4 times a day or more was really physically exhausting. Since the kids are big swimmers and love playing in the pool, I made them help too. There were tears, complaints and fits of bad behavior, and that was just me. There were times I wanted to give up, to just smash the pool with a bulldozer and move someplace else where a pool boy handled all of the work. But, we kept at it. We had to vacuum out hundreds of gallons of gross stuff off the bottom, and since the water had salt in it, the kids had to haul it in buckets away from all of our trees. By this point, I was over the fact that this was hard, and had to squelch the bickering and complaints, lest I lose my mind.
After weeks of work, and it just in time for the temperatures to reach triple digits, we hopped in our sparkling blue water. I was so happy, I thought I could cry. If it were possible to hug water, I would have. We all agree, it was worth it.

Lesson 3: Perspective on Cost: A couple of years ago, we acquired this 24 foot diameter hard side Dough Boy pool with wrap around deck from an estate sale for a ridiculously low price. And by ridiculously low, I mean $50. It was in really good shape and a similar new model was selling for around $4500 at the pool store. Of course, by the time we added a new liner, yards of sand to go under it and several water trucks driving way out to our place in the sticks to fill it, it cost a whole lot more. We were lucky enough to have a friend with a tractor who leveled the ground for us and more friends who help us set it up. The $50 bargain pool ended up being more like $1000 to set up, and that didn't even include the new filter and the salt water generator and the ongoing chemical costs. Factoring in all the work involved makes it even higher, but when you live in a place as hot as we do, sometimes it's worth it to eat beans and rice as long as you can swim.

As I mentioned, we learned countless other lessons from the pool. It's been like one big metaphor. But, since I want to go out and enjoy it right now, the last lesson I'll share is this:

Lesson 4: Summer doesn't last forever. So, get out there, soak up some sun and have fun while you can.