Sunday, June 8, 2008

Ten Thousand Leagues Under the Neighborhood Pool

The E-man has started jumping off the diving board.





The kid’s not even five for cri-eye-eye! I don’t know what The Magic Diving Board Age is supposed to be, but we’re talking about my baby here. It’s all just so…so sudden.


The little man adjusts his neon-green shark goggles and steps onto the board. He walks to the end and stops. He does a little butt-shaking dance to pass the time until the diving area is clear.

He glances over his shoulder to make sure Mommy is watching. I smile unconvincingly.

He jumps.

Plunging in, he displaces a little-kid shaped plume of water.

One, one thousand...

In a cylindrical explosion of bubbles, his impossibly tiny body plummets toward the bottom of the pool - the reeelly, reeelly deep part of the pool, which suddenly looks to be about two thousand feet down.

His momentum slows. He starts his lopsided dog-paddle upward, toward the sunlight and air.

I can’t see him. His head is not breaking the surface. Self-talk: He’s fine. Give him a second.

He’s been underwater for hours.

I take a step toward the pool, craning my neck. A miniscule jolt of adrenaline tingles in my torso. I’m ready to jump in.

He emerges.

Two, one-thousand...

I breathe.

He’s beaming. He swims to the ladder, hoists himself out, does that funny little race-walk that kids do in order go as fast as they possibly can without getting called out by the life-guard, and takes his place at the end of the line for the diving board.

Repeat six-hundred and thirty-seven times.