July 22, 2013: Pool Chronicles: Part One

A Miller Park Pool picture...cousins joined us on this occasion
Grant just came home from the pool. He and his friend, Lucas, walked across the street to neighboring Lifetime Fitness. Three hours later he arrived back home. I asked if he had fun; confident of a positive response based on the time lapsed.

"Mom, we didn't know anyone. And then we played with a random boy. That always happens to us."

After some further probing, Grant reiterated to me that he liked meeting random new friends at the pool. It was fun. I had to agree. Random friends are fun. Our summer of random pools and new friendships eleven years ago was the best. It was our summer of public pools.

In my twenty years of raising kids and enjoying our dog days of summers, we have covered it all in the pool category. We have belonged to about every private pool west of 120th Street. There have been summer memberships to everything from fitness centers to country clubs, and privately owned pools.

But the best summer of swimming was the year I boycotted joining a pool. Instead we toured the public pools. Our travels took us to every nook and cranny in the city of Omaha. And the adventures had, nothing short of a delight.

That particular summer the boys were two, six, and nine. I would load them into my car and tell them we were going on a Magical Mystery Bus Tour. I would then randomly pick a public pool across town. With diaper bag in hand and snacks packed, we enjoyed our afternoon of water frenzy.

From Hanscom to Elmwood to Hitchcock Public Pools, we enjoyed the wide variety of pool depths and diving boards. The neighboring parks and picnic areas were an added treat. Our geographic span covered the entire city. But we did have a favorite destination. The best kept secret in Omaha was the Miller Park Pool.

Nestled in North O and considered by many as the "rough" part of town, this pool was many times forgotten. It was newly renovated with a water spitting dragon and winding slides. The depth didn't exceed three and a half feet. Perfect for my young children. A police officer was on duty at all times. As we became regulars of sorts, he too became our summertime friend.

Although the boys would take their own friends on occasion, they spent most summer days meeting random friends. They played with their new friends and learned a little lesson in diversity. The lesson was actually more of a non-lesson.

Most of the kids at the pool were of dark skin and dark hair. My blond haired children were the minority. Yet none of the kids felt a hint of diversity. They played as kids enjoying some heat relief and water games; without an idea or care of each other's home address or backgrounds.

The purity of spirit in an innocent child was reflected in the fact that no one cared. They played with each other. There were no differences under the heat of that summer sun. The same story was true of each pool we visited that summer.

It was a summer of adventures with lessons in trying new things and meeting new people with an open mind. And although we are no longer trekking across Omaha for pool days, I am happy to hear that Grant still subscribes to the belief that random friends are a great way to enjoy the summer.


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