Kids and the pool

I live in a subdivision that has a good sized community pool. There are deck chairs and a kiddy pool. It’s a really nice perk, especially if you have kids (I’ve noticed).

Hanging out poolside this summer I’ve noticed two things that are particularly perplexing about kids and the aquatic experience. The first is the kiddy pool. I understand that water and small children are a dangerous combo; therefore, the creation of the kiddy pool. At this facility it’s about three inches of water (that often has a yellowish tinge) surrounded by a short gate. Upon first glance, this might seem like a great invention. However, if water and small children are a dangerous combo, I also believe that three inches of boiling hot water and children must be dangerous as well. It has been 95 degrees for the last five days. I am constantly getting nervous that someone is going to dip their small child into pool and pull that child out with boils on their feet. At best, the child is going to get overheated. It is not a kiddy pool. It is a shallow hot tub. There needs to be a sign posted in the kiddy pool area that makes everyone aware of this. There are more things that confuse me about the kiddy pool (such as why a full grown adult would sit all the way down in three inches of urine while their child splashes it into their face), but I will leave that for another day.

The second thing that is perplexing to me about kids and the pool is that almost everyone seems to be having a miserable time. The next time you go to the pool, observe. First, the entry. The mother is walking in with enough stuff to take a two week vacation to Europe. There are floaties, snacks, water, towels,sunscreen, diapers (both kinds: swimmers and dry), books, toys and variety of unidentifiable objects. I always wonder why they are bringing so much stuff to this particular pool because you HAVE to live in the immediate neighborhood to get access. There is a gate with a key. This family can not be THAT far away from home! Once they enter, chaos ensues. The mom is bogged down with a month’s worth of supplies while the kids are making a beeline for the deep end. The mom starts screaming at the kids, “Don’t you take one more step or we will go home right now!” She has to say this seven times before the kids stop running and gather around the spot she has picked. Then, the real scene begins.crying child

One kid is crying because he got sunscreen in his eyes. One kid is arguing with his mother about floaties. One kid is almost in the pool before the mom even notices. Once all the little ones are lubed up with sunscreen, and saddled with enough floatation material to save a small cruiseliner, they are allowed to hop in the water. I see the mother lie back in her chair and reach into her bag. She pulls out a novel the size of War and Peace and I think, “Good luck with that after the scene I just saw.” The poor woman has just cracked the cover when a blood curdling scream can be heard by the entire United States of America. Every pool patron is on alert. And that is it. It is all over. All three children, the mother, and the entire basement that was packed into three oversized bags march out of the pool. One child is questioning why they are leaving (repeatedly), one child is continuing to scream with blood streaming down his face, and the third child is balanced on the mother’s hip (along with the rest of the house). Very impressive.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is a day at the pool with the kids…or at least about 15 minutes for this woman.I have to believe that most trips to the pool with kids are not this horrible or else they would stop making pools. I commend all the moms out there just trying to get some sun and few minutes of peace and quiet. May I recommend another place than the pool?

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Being a pet parent can be very fulfilling (Luca’s story)

My greatest experience as a “non-mom” was being the mother to an aggressive Boxer dog named Luca. Luca Dean Brasi Venturella to be precise. (Photo by Michael Davis. Follow his awesome photo blog at michaelwdavis17.wordpress.com)luca and family

I chose him from a pound in Los Angeles when I was 19 years old. This was the type of place where they posted on the cages the number of days until the dog is euthanized.

Throughout his life he was truly my family’s dog. He lived in L.A., Chicago, and the last five years of his life, he came to live with my husband and I in Joplin, Missouri.

Like I said, Luca was a mean one. We’re pretty sure he was trained to fight and it’s a set back from which he never recovered. Any time he saw the mailman or UPS guy he would charge the front picture window with all of his might (we actually had to replace the single pane window with a double pane because we were worried he would go through it!). He chased and charged any animal, small or large, and frequently bit people who walked through our front door (that stopped in his later years, thank heavens).

Despite his shortcomings, he was the most precious little guy I ever had. He was a snuggler, even until the hour of his death. Even though he was 65 pounds, he LOVED sitting on people’s laps. He loved drinking out of lawn sprinklers (or “free drink stations” as we called them). He would squeak a chew toy for hours…on your leg. When we walked through the front door he would jump in the air with excitement and joy even if we were only gone for an hour. He needed a LOT of attention. It was a requirement that he go on a run every day. He was definitely high maintenance. And  he was the first great love of my life.

I remember moving to Joplin from Los Angeles when I was 21 years old. I got a job, started my junior year of college, but felt so out of place. I was alone and Luca was truly one of the highlights of my life during that period. Dogs are consistent. That is the greatest things about them; their unwavering love and commitment. Don’t get me wrong, I know what it feels like to be loved. I was VERY fortunate to come from a home where my parents loved me unconditionally – but, there is something about a dog’s love that is very unique.

Anyway, I met a boy, married him and my parents and beloved Luca moved back to Chicago. I stayed in Joplin and finished school and two years after I was married my parents asked me if my husband and I would consider keeping Luca, “Just for a while”. Chicago had 91 inches of snow that year and my Dad’s travel schedule had significantly increased. I was ecstatic, and my husband was willing, so Luca officially moved in.

For the next five years my husband and I planned our lives around our little guy. Saturday and Sunday mornings began with long walks. Late Friday nights with friends were never too late because we had to get home to Luca. Christmas cards included our “fur child” and Christmas morning always started with Luca burrowing his nose deep down into his stocking. I do believe that many people with actual children see their days and years going the same way…just with a lot less fur. May I remind you that the clean-up that goes with a dog is just as extensive as the clean-up that goes with a child, especially if you are a neat-freak like me! But I digress.

For me, being a pet parent is incredibly fulfilling. Dogs do not achieve great societal accomplishments that you can brag about. They don’t get good grades that give you the right to an “honor student” bumper sticker on your car. They do, however, love and need love. They need daily care and attention. They require accommodations to schedules. Pets require discipline and money, just like kids. It’s not exactly the same, because no two things are ever really alike, but it is comparable.

Luca died on April 28, 2012. He had lung cancer and we had to make the very humane, but difficult, decision to have him put down. There is not a day that goes by that I don’t think of him. He was my first “fur baby.” He impacted my life in so many ways.

The night that Luca died, we left town because we didn’t want to be in the house we shared that now seemed so empty. As we walked around Kansas City, we came across a lady who told us that the way you learn to love one dog only teaches you the patience and skills you need to be a better pet parent for your future “children.”

Today, we DO have a new little baby. His name is Buster Brown. He is also a Boxer and wephoto love him more than I ever thought possible. Luca truly did pave the way for our hearts to be open to Buster.

Let’s all recognize and celebrate the joys and sorrows of parenthood and support one another in our journeys, no matter what path we take.

Being a pet parent can be very fulfilling (Luca’s story)

My greatest experience as a “non-mom” was being the mother to an aggressive Boxer dog named Luca. Luca Dean Brasi Venturella to be precise. (Photo by Michael Davis. Follow his awesome photo blog at michaelwdavis17.wordpress.com)luca and family

I chose him from a pound in Los Angeles when I was 19 years old. This was the type of place where they posted on the cages the number of days until the dog is euthanized.

Throughout his life he was truly my family’s dog. He lived in L.A., Chicago, and the last five years of his life, he came to live with my husband and I in Joplin, Missouri.

Like I said, Luca was a mean one. We’re pretty sure he was trained to fight and it’s a set back from which he never recovered. Any time he saw the mailman or UPS guy he would charge the front picture window with all of his might (we actually had to replace the single pane window with a double pane because we were worried he would go through it!). He chased and charged any animal, small or large, and frequently bit people who walked through our front door (that stopped in his later years, thank heavens).

Despite his shortcomings, he was the most precious little guy I ever had. He was a snuggler, even until the hour of his death. Even though he was 65 pounds, he LOVED sitting on people’s laps. He loved drinking out of lawn sprinklers (or “free drink stations” as we called them). He would squeak a chew toy for hours…on your leg. When we walked through the front door he would jump in the air with excitement and joy even if we were only gone for an hour. He needed a LOT of attention. It was a requirement that he go on a run every day. He was definitely high maintenance. And  he was the first great love of my life.

I remember moving to Joplin from Los Angeles when I was 21 years old. I got a job, started my junior year of college, but felt so out of place. I was alone and Luca was truly one of the highlights of my life during that period. Dogs are consistent. That is the greatest things about them; their unwavering love and commitment. Don’t get me wrong, I know what it feels like to be loved. I was VERY fortunate to come from a home where my parents loved me unconditionally – but, there is something about a dog’s love that is very unique.

Anyway, I met a boy, married him and my parents and beloved Luca moved back to Chicago. I stayed in Joplin and finished school and two years after I was married my parents asked me if my husband and I would consider keeping Luca, “Just for a while”. Chicago had 91 inches of snow that year and my Dad’s travel schedule had significantly increased. I was ecstatic, and my husband was willing, so Luca officially moved in.

For the next five years my husband and I planned our lives around our little guy. Saturday and Sunday mornings began with long walks. Late Friday nights with friends were never too late because we had to get home to Luca. Christmas cards included our “fur child” and Christmas morning always started with Luca burrowing his nose deep down into his stocking. I do believe that many people with actual children see their days and years going the same way…just with a lot less fur. May I remind you that the clean-up that goes with a dog is just as extensive as the clean-up that goes with a child, especially if you are a neat-freak like me! But I digress.

For me, being a pet parent is incredibly fulfilling. Dogs do not achieve great societal accomplishments that you can brag about. They don’t get good grades that give you the right to an “honor student” bumper sticker on your car. They do, however, love and need love. They need daily care and attention. They require accommodations to schedules. Pets require discipline and money, just like kids. It’s not exactly the same, because no two things are ever really alike, but it is comparable.

Luca died on April 28, 2012. He had lung cancer and we had to make the very humane, but difficult, decision to have him put down. There is not a day that goes by that I don’t think of him. He was my first “fur baby.” He impacted my life in so many ways.

The night that Luca died, we left town because we didn’t want to be in the house we shared that now seemed so empty. As we walked around Kansas City, we came across a lady who told us that the way you learn to love one dog only teaches you the patience and skills you need to be a better pet parent for your future “children.”

Today, we DO have a new little baby. His name is Buster Brown. He is also a Boxer and wephoto love him more than I ever thought possible. Luca truly did pave the way for our hearts to be open to Buster.

Let’s all recognize and celebrate the joys and sorrows of parenthood and support one another in our journeys, no matter what path we take.

What does it mean to be a mother?

There are many ways to be a mother. There are nurturing mothers. Evil stepmothers. And even that “mother %#$&er” driving in front of you this morning at 20 mph in a 45 when you were late for work.

I can remember one of the first kids I had in my teaching experience that just always happened to be hanging around. He was there in the morning before school started. He was there after school until I left. He was kind of weird. He didn’t smell great. He had a fairly unstable home life and transferred in and out of the district about 3 times over the course of his high school career, but every time he was back in the district, he was back in my class. I had him first as a freshman in my Freshman English class. Then again as a sophomore in my Freshman English class. Then, finally again as a Senior in my – you guessed it – Freshman English class (he actually passed the class that time). He came back a couple of years after he had graduated and said to me, “Mrs. Kinsley, I don’t think I would have ever graduated high school if you didn’t believe in me. You were never mean to me and you always said you knew I could do it. No one else ever told me that.” Being an encourager is a quality of being a mother. Of course being a high school teacher, I have countless stories of giving kids food, helping them with their homework, listening to the heartbreaks of break ups and to the heartbreaks of parents divorcing. All of those things have to do with mothering.

Both men and women mother at different times to different people and animals throughout their lives. Volunteering, helping the elderly, helping the young, even caring for your sick spouse. All of these instances give us a chance to mother. As a society, I challenge those with kids to think about those without kids as extended mothers. If we are all really doing our part then each of us at one time or another will  be “mothers.” Maybe mothers as teachers, pet owners, care givers, food preparers, gardeners, cleaners, etc. What parent hasn’t enlisted a babysitter, teacher, or friend for help or advice? As families, communities, and a society we should nurture a spirit of acceptance and love so that when the children of today become the adults of tomorrow, they will all act with a sense of obligation and responsibility toward all children whether they are traditional parents or not.

So in the spirit of mothering, I’ll stop honking at that “mother” driving so slowly in front of me on my way to work.

What do you think? Where are the hidden mothers in your life (besides the carpool lane)?

 

Intro to a non-mom

This blog is going to be about women who chose not to be moms. I am 31 years old, married, a teacher, and NOT a mom. This is shocking to almost everyone I meet. Most people say something like, “Oh, well you still have plenty of time”. That would be true, if I wanted children. But I don’t. That is the most shocking part to people. I used to say things like, “Actually, I am really not interested in having children”. After alarming looks I usually got, “Well, that is just selfish”.  I am writing this  blog as an ask for consideration. Consider that there is an alternative to marriage and the baby carriage. We should also think twice before judging people who are happily married (my husband and I have been married for over 7 years) without children. There needs to be an open conversation about happily married people who do NOT have kids. What does that look like? Where does fulfillment and significance come from when you don’t have kids? I hope that through the comments and thoughts shared on this blog post, eyes will be opened to the choices that we have as married couples in the 21st century.