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A little late in the game, I joined the Jewish Community Center two weeks ago. Pool season is nearly over, but when it’s 103 degrees out, it’s about the only thing to do. Plus, I can start working out there and take advantage of the drop-in babysitting, J-Play, which charges a mere $2 for the first hour and $5 thereafter. That’s a heckuva lot cheaper than a nanny, let me tell you.

My first visit was a study in ethnic stereotypes. In the baby pool with me were several other moms. Two were quite slim, very blonde, extremely tan, and were watching over similarly blonde, similarly tan babies. One of the women was so dark that I have nicknamed her “shoe leather woman.” If you are a dermatologist, I think you would call this woman “job security.”

So we have our two skinny, tanned, blonde moms. Then there were the other moms. They had dark hair, not much in the way of tans, and ranged from pretty fit to pretty overweight to morbidly obese. Their kids? Also untanned. Also unblonde.

Can you tell Jew from gentile? I realize I could be wrong here. But I wouldn’t bet against me.

Simon’s experience at the pool has been mixed. He’s not always wild about the baby pool (maybe the tanned babies freak him out, too), but he loves getting in the family pool with me. We jump in the water, I lay him across his belly and simulate swimming, I put him on my belly and swim along on my back (sort of), and we generally frolic in the 3-4 foot zone. It’s a good time for both of us.

There have been to date only two complications. One is that the dear will not keep a hat on. It’s his second favorite game, next to “throw the object off the highchair” in hilarity. Last time I put the sucker on about ten times; Simon took it off just as many. This was much easier before he could grab things. The solution to this problem is zinc oxide, but it’s a messy solution at best and an eye-stinging solution at worst.

The second complication is that I want Simon to feel comfortable in the water, but I don’t really know what I’m doing. Most of the time I feel fine with making things up as I go, but two days ago we hit a bump. We were sitting in the baby pool together when I let go of him to reach something. Simon chose that exact moment to lose his balance and fall over backwards, completely submerging his head in the water. Before this, I had always made sure that his head stayed above water.

He looked up at me with open, startled, underwater eyes. And I looked back at him–briefly–with startled, terrified mommy eyes. Two seconds later he was sitting back up, and I was clapping for him. “Yay Simon! You went underwater and opened your eyes like a big boy!” He almost bought it. There was a tiny bit of crying, a fair bit of eye-rubbing, and several minutes of clinginess. Then he was ready for more adventures in the family pool.

Based on this display of bravery I am dubbing him, for the moment at least, Aquababy.

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