We’ve been making the trip for years, even before the grandkids came along. These days, the sounds of excited kids can be heard for miles around as you approach our beach house. With eight grandkids ages 11 years to 16 months, it’s a little chaotic, but we wouldn’t have it any other way.
This is the first year in a LONG time the little Webber crew didn’t lug all the baby gear with us. No more pack ‘n plays, swim diapers, baby food, bottles, pacifiers, or naptimes to deal with. It was fantastic. The ride down to the beach was peaceful and quiet as we played some games or watched DVDs. Everyone slept all night. Nobody ate sand. I’m telling you, it was amazing.
This year was actually more fun than work.
We may be out of the little baby stage, but we are definitely not out of the baby pool stage.
Each day, our youngest made a beeline for the sparkling waters of that magical place. My job for the most part was to sit on the edge with my feet in the cool water and observe, intervening only when necessary.
My time observing got me thinking about the power structure at the baby pool, because there most definitely is one if you’re watching closely enough.
At the top of the food chain at the baby pool are the big kids. Anyone old enough and coordinated enough to not be at immediate risk of drowning without a parent most definitely has the advantage.
Because, readers, if you don’t have a parent with you at all times, you are much more free to exert your ideology upon those around you, however oppressive it may be.
I watched with interest the scene unfolding before me. A child who we shall name Harper (to protect even the not so innocent) was terrorizing the fellow baby pool goers. Snatching toys, splashing babies in the face, pouncing on chubby little hands reaching for one of his water guns…this kid was dominating. Showing no mercy to the feeble. You can’t walk? Excellent – you won’t be able to chase me down when I steal your favorite Dora squirt toy. Not old enough to speak clearly? Jackpot. You won’t be able to communicate to your old lady that you’re crying because I just poured an entire bucket full of chlorine water directly into your bloodshot eyes.
I also observed with great interest the parents around me. Most were chatting amicably with each other, sipping on fruity drinks, and making conversation about how cute each other’s babies were. “I love her little swimsuit!” or “oh my gosh, he is the most adorable little guy I’ve ever seen.” Or my favorite, the LONG stories about the latest cute thing little junior had done. Most of these grown ups were only vaguely aware that they were still on parent duty at all.
Meanwhile, little Harper is going ballistic, causing havoc and weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth (seriously, there was some biting going on) everywhere he went. Babies everywhere were freaking out as toys were plucked from their personal space. The most unfortunate were run down and plunged headfirst into the warm water.
(About this time I realized that the water really was extremely warm and casually removed my feet.)
I also realized another even more disturbing trend going on. MY daughter was teaming up with little Harper.
Partners in crime, imposing their will on all who dared challenge their authority. They were like a couple of miniature Marxists, teaching everyone by example about the bourgeoisie and proletariat classes.
But as all good things must come to an end, my sweet daughter eventually noticed that just a few feet away, the dangerous waters of the big pool were calling her name. Laughing in the face of potential death, she took off running for the deep end, tossing aside random floaties, torpedos, balls, and water toys she had confiscated with the help of Harper, and I took off after her.
I’m pretty sure I heard a big sigh of relief coming from the remaining baby pool dwellers. The balance of power had just shifted again, but sadly for those too young to get in the rat rate, they were still the unlucky proletariat peasants.
“…with liberty and justice for all…” doesn’t apply in the baby pool. Survival of the fittest is the government program of choice.