VERNON COUNTY - I often wonder how I survived childhood. I rode my bike without a helmet, sat in the car without being buckled into a car seat, and played on swing sets with hard asphalt below them. I was allowed to play outside without supervision, drank water from the hose, rode in the back of my dad’s pickup truck, and had sugary cereal for breakfast. And when my face got dirty, Grandpa Jake would spit on a hankie and wipe it—no antiseptic wipes for this child!
We had a small pool in the backyard with an old metal slide my dad stuck in it. Many days I climbed that slide and slid down, plunking butt first into the shallow water. Can you imagine!?
This summer Louisa, my big girl pig, Tickles and The Professor, my big-butt geese, and all 13 of my ducklings needed a new pool. We had started the hot season two pools ahead, but Louisa managed to plop down half-in and half-out of one of them, breaking the side and causing a minor tsunami.
I’m not interested in buying more plastic crap, but I do want to provide relief on hot days to my critters who desire it. The creek out back will flood in a heartbeat and do the job, but it has slowed to a trickle in the unseasonable heat wave we’re experiencing.
Much to my amusement, this year’s kiddie pool came with warnings manufactured right into the pool’s pattern. As if that wasn’t enough, there was a plastic bag attached by tape to the inside bottom of the pool. I was clueless and uninterested as to what it could possibly be. Children's hard plastic pools seem straightforward to me: get the hose, rinse out the pool, and fill it up.
I chose a pink pool (Louisa’s color preference) with a Hawaiian theme and balanced it on my cart while I went on to pick up the cat, dog, and bird food. I managed to make it to the checkout with only one mishap. A lady tried to pass me in aisle 10, causing the pool to flip off my cart and into hers, which elicited a startled yelp. Tragedy averted, I paid for the pool and headed home without a care in the world about the many catastrophes that might await me there.
Once home, I remembered the plastic package that I’d torn from the bottom of the pool. It turned out to be a four-page ‘Wading Pool Assembly Instructions’ manual, complete with a ‘Water Watcher’ badge on a string for the person in charge of watching the children to wear at all times. There is even a website to order a replacement if you happen to lose this essential safety necklace.
I sat down and read the manual from beginning to end. I read about swimming pool barriers and the recommendation to put a fence around my kiddie pool. The Swimming Pool Assembly section warned me of potentially sharp pool edges, cautioned me not to place the pool on an incline as it could cause the pool to collapse, and alerted me to the danger of suffocation from the plastic bag that housed the owner’s manual. There was also an entire section on Pool Maintenance: only fill it to the maximum water fill line, completely dry the pool before storing, wash with lukewarm soapy water and be sure to rinse, and only store where the temperature never goes below 32 degrees. Who knew a kiddie pool could be so complicated?
Other sections of the manual included Diving Risks, Electrocution Risk, First Aid, Special Warning, and Safety Care for Children. Item number 5 in the Safety Care for Children section left me shaking my head; it noted that when searching for a missing child, one should check the pool first, even if the child is thought to be in the house.
With trepidation, I began filling my critters’ new pool. Soon everyone sauntered over, slowly due to the day's blazing heat. I yelled for Dane to come over, handed him the hose and the ‘Water Watcher’ necklace, and headed into the house for a cool glass of water from my faucet. I wasn’t about to risk death by water hose or leave my beloved pets unsupervised and risk losing one of them to the many dangers of their new pool. Dane was thoroughly amused. I’m thankful to report that no one was injured, went missing, or drowned.
And for the record, I draw the line at spitting on a handkerchief to wipe anyone’s face, two-legged, four-legged, or feathered.
(Author's disclaimer: Please be attentive and watch your children carefully while they swim or play in any pool, river or lake. Accidents do happen. My pool is intended for ducks and geese that know all about swimming, and a pig that is too large to go under the water.)