Two signs of summer. First, M. seems to have reached the perpetually skinned knee phase. Every 2-3 days, while we’re outside, she’ll decide to run down our driveway, which has a slight decline to it, catch her toes, and fall down, leaving her knees bloodied. She usually jumps up and looks at them, but a few times we’ve had some tears. We invested in some Elmo Band-Aids, so I think she might be doing it on purpose now. Reminds me of my pre-teen days, when I thought summers were a contest to see how many scabs you could get before school started again. Between sliding wounds from baseball, bike accidents, and regular summer wear-and-tear, my shins and knees usually looked pretty battered come August.

And then there’s the pool. My in-laws have one in their neighborhood. Last year we took M. over there 3-4 times. She was just getting comfortable being in the water with one of us when the summer ended. So far this year, we’ve already had her over three times. It’s again taken some time, but on our most recent trip Monday afternoon, she was starting to really get into it.

First, she has to take a lap around the pool deck. She marches around, cautiously eyeing the water, looking at everyone else there (there aren’t normally very many people at the pool), and talking to herself. I follow her, making sure she doesn’t jump in on her own while asking her, “Do you want to get in?” over-and-over. “No,” is her constant, curt response. After a few minutes of this, we try the baby pool, which she really hates for some reason. Finally, I pick her up, take her to the walk-in area of the big pool, and force her in with me. She immediately starts laughing nervously, as if she likes it but isn’t entire comfortable with the whole situation. We work our way into the water, slowly moving the water up her legs, to her booty, then up her back and finally stopping around her shoulders. She wraps her arms around my neck, her legs around my chest, and holds on tightly, afraid she might get disconnected and have to deal with this strange, deep water on her own. We spend about five minutes doing this and she’s ready to get out.

I give her a few minutes to watch the puddles she’s making, to take another lap, to say hi to mommy and Mimi and C., and then ask, “Do you want to get back in?”
30 seconds later we’re doing the same thing, walking in from the shallow end, and working our way down the pool. This time she relaxes a little, letting me pull her around by her upper arms, keeping her head above the water, to give the impression that she’s swimming.
“Kick your legs!” And she laughs more than kicks, but makes an effort.
She waves at her mommy and Mimi and sister sitting poolside. She watches the kids tossing a ball around, stares at two girls playing Marco Polo. After another five minutes, she’s ready to get out.

This is when things change. After a few minutes outside the pool, she walks to the edge, looks at me, and says, “Back in! Back in!”
“You want to get back in?”
“Yeeeeeaaaah!” and she runs towards the steps.

This time I drag her from one end to the other by her arms. Then I flip her around, so I’m standing behind her with my hands under her stomach, supporting her so she “floats.” She squeals, kicks, slaps her hands on the water. As we make our laps, she yells at anyone who is near, “M. swimming! M. swimming!”

And that’s when all the whining she did that morning fades away and she again seems like the greatest kid in the history of kids. Summer is great.