31 May 2010

We are sorry for any inconvenience this may have caused.

This past week, my friend Jessie and I set out on an adventure. We decided to take advantage of the YMCA's child watch feature and head to our neighborhood Y to get some exercise and then to take the children swimming.

We knew that the Y to which we were heading did not have a pool [hereafter to be known as YMCA - 1]. We also knew that the Y to which we have been routinely taking the children to swim does not have the best workout facility [hereafter to be known as YMCA - 2]. So, what the heck, we thought. We'll make it a two Y day.

8:57 am - YMCA-1 is six minutes north of our houses (which happen to be a couple hundred yards down the street from one another). We caravanned the entire six minutes with five children between the two of us (hazard of big-ish families - no carpooling possibilities, really). The children were aware of the plan - Mamas are going to get some exercise in an air conditioned environment - kiddos playing with each other in the child-watch area. Then we'll hop back in the car and head to our swimming Y and hop in the pool.

That's the plan. Sticking to it.

So, the first part of our plan went off with very few hitches. Well, about 25 minutes into our aggressive treadmill walks, we noticed a swarm of no fewer than 9 children heading back to the child watch room to join our five. We were a bit wary of the sweet, older woman having fourteen children to watch, so we cut our walks a bit short, but other than that, so far so good.

9: 31 am So, we load back up into seventeen carseats (or five), spend the nine minutes strapping children in, invariably have to make a trip back into the Y because of an abandoned stuffed animal (benefit of doing things like this with a friend - one can run back in while the other keeps watch for kidnappers or sibling battles), and.... we're off - to hop in the pool.

9: 41 am Head the nine minutes back south, waving at our little neighborhood on the way. Pull up in the YMCA-2 parking lot. Unstrap said seventeen carseats, gather bags of changes of clothes, bottles, diapers, pending exhaustion, flotation devices and waddle into the YMCA-2, scanning our family membership badges, requesting towels, and heading down the wide, low-ceiling-ed hallway to the holy grail of cooling entertainment.

9: 57 am Stopping to drop of Collins at his second Child watch of the morning (trying to teach Eas to swim and hold C at the same time is not good for my sanity or their safety).

Jessie headed with the swimmers on into the pool. After I got Collins settled, distracted him so I could leave without tears, I walked into the pool area to join the rest.

10: 06 am As soon as I did, I saw my eldest hopping into the pool. And a lifeguard heading for her immediately. Was she drowning? nope. Was she disobeying? nope Was she too far from a parent? nope.

Was the pool closing for repairs?

So, there we were, all dressed up (and one of us wet) and nowhere to swim. We creeped back out, gathering up discarded coverups and shoes, picking up confused baby Collins, and sitting down in the hallway, once filled with hope [despite 8 feet of space between floor and ceiling], now betraying its actual intentions - to depress you from the top down.

Other places to swim, we thought? Front yard sprinkler? The other kid friendly indoor pool at a Y doesn't open till noon.

Aah, I have a great idea! There is a new YMCA (hereafter, YMCA-3) that has a saltwater pool. That'd be a fun experience! But, brilliant us, we should probably call first.

10:21 am
Kyle: YMCA-3, can I help you?
Me: Hey Kyle. We were wondering if the pool is open - just for recreational swimming.
Kyle: Well, there is a water aerobics class in there right now - but it will be over at 11 and then the pool is open.
Me: Great. Do y'all have towels or do we need to bring our own?
Kyle: What?
Me: I know some Y branches have towels [like the one I'm sitting in the depressing hallway of right now...], but some don't. Do y'all have towels or not?
Kyle: No towels.
Me: Thanks so much Kyle.

10:23 am. Jessie and I discuss while the children misbehave in the hallway (gathering great looks from passers by). One older (80 ish) woman emerges from the pool area and asks Jessie to please wrap her up in her towel. Jessie obliges, clearly.
We continue to languish in debate. I think our already donned bathingsuits may have been cutting off circulation to the brain.
We finally decide to ride back by home and grab a snack and some towels and head north to try, once again to swim.

So, we load up. By now you get that the unloading and loading process is a long one and so I'll quit repeating all that we have to do....

Drive home, caravanning all the way. Run into our respective houses and grab string cheese, bell peppers, towels, etc. Paul happened to be home on this day and Collins needed a nap, so I asked Paul if i could leave him rather than take him on our ever expanding hotventure. Luckily, my husband is a sweet man and views himself as a equal coparent and so said of course that was fine.

10:47 am - Head back north, stopping to get gas, drop off an outfit a friend is borrowing, and find our way to YMCA-3, 18 minutes north of home.

11:13 am - Unload in parking lot of YMCA-3 (down to four children, which does make a big difference...)

Walk in to YMCA-3.

Woman at front desk whose name I failed to learn, but we'll call her Helga, because it fits, says to us:

"Whoa - y'all aren't here to swim are you?"
All six of us, in almost choreographed chorus, "Why yes, we are here to swim" (Hey helga - why do you think the children have swimming rings around their waists - fashion statement?)
Helga: "well, we don't have family swim time now - or ever, really - we haven't set it up yet"
Us: again in chorus, "groan"
Helga: "well, we just haven't assigned family swim times yet."
Me: "Well, we called before we drove out here and Kyle told us to come on"
Helga: "Kyle doesn't know."
Jessie: "Well, you don't mind if we go look at the pool do you? Just so we'll know what its like in case we want to come back some time"
Helga: [i don't make this stuff up, mind you] "Well, uh, I mean, uh, I mean, uh, I guess - but don't go in the door - just look through the window - we don't want to disturb the lap swimmers"
Us: choreographed stare
As we begin to walk back to the pool,
Helga: "Wait - wait - are any of them in diapers?"
Us: "No ma'am - left the diapered one at home"
Helga, following us as we walk back the 20 feet to look in the pool window....: "well, if they are in diapers, they aren't allowed back toward the pool without a swim diaper on"

It's a good thing that Jessie and I are both generally conflict-avoiders. I can barely stand up for myself if someone gives me back too little change, much less give Helga a piece of my mind. And it's a good thing. Because it wouldn't have been a pretty piece. [Not that Helga did anything egregious - but she said some annoying, insulting things to a group of disgruntled people...]

Incidentally, we went to look in the pool windows. At a pool smaller than any backyard pool I've ever seen. How can you even lap swim in there. Three strokes, One lap, I swear.

As we come out to leave, Helga begins telling us more pool and general YMCA-3 rules, times of opening and closing, history behind their conversion from a Fitness Woman Gym to a Y, etc.
Still avoiding yelling at Helga, we walked out the front doors and sat down. To discuss.

11:27 am
Should we give up? I mean, that's the sensible thing. It is clear to us that God is allowing the devil to test us this morning. We are modern day, stay at home mom versions of Job. Kill all our cattle? 3 ymcas....

Well, at this point, we're all the way in YMCA-3 land, not far from the Y with the great indoor children's pool. The one that doesn't open until Noon. It has a slide for goodness sakes. I mean, we could at least try.

[Side note - I rarely feel sorry for children - I have never seen such sad, dejected faces - My heart was moved to try again AND stop on the way and get them chicken nuggets. The string cheese and bell pepper weren't going to hold us over through to YMCA-4]

So, 11:38 am - Burger King Drive Through Caravan
11:46 am - Rocking along, driving the 12 minutes to get to YMCA-4. Sitting in parking lot eating our chicken nuggets.
12:00 pm - on the dot - walking through doors of YMCA-4

Notice posted, to which front desk Amy (again, I know not her name, but I'm going with Amy) drew our attention:

"The children's pool is closed today. We're sorry for any inconvenience this may have caused you."

Luckily, Amy was pleasant, or mine and Jessie's personalities may have transformed into conflict-loving ones. Amy said we could ask the lifeguard if we could get in the lapswimming pool...

The lifeguard was a sweet, meek 16 year old boy who could sense that if he didn't let us in the lap swimming pool, we were going to all six of us melt down. So, we hopped in. The 54 degree water. That is five feet deep at it's shallowest point. Or maybe it was 74 degree water and four feet deep, but still... And no flotation devices allowed.

So, we got to swim. YMCA-4. For about 45 minutes. And shiver.

But, in the end, the fact that we have four different YMCAs in the metro area that we could try is really something for which we should be thankful.

Right? Right? Right?

If we couldn't laugh we would all go insane.


  1. thanks for taking the time to properly document this adventure! it was crazy, and parts of it were actually fun due to the fact that we were with friends! :)

  2. Well now you know somewhere else close by to swim, and we're never closed. :)

  3. Wow, what a day. You kept your cool much better than I would have - especially with Helga!

    We live 2 minutes from our local YMCA. It has a big pool (1/2 Olympic I think) but it doesn't have a children's pool. There are lots of family swim times, but really it doesn't matter because Nicholas hates the pool! It's also chilly (supposedly they have to keep it cool for the lap swimmers & swim team...) And there are no other Ys anywhere else around us (we're kinda in the boonies). I have enjoyed utilizing the Y nursery this past year, but now Nicholas has been "promoted" to playing with the big kids in the gym (they separate the walkers from the non-walkers for 3 hours every morning). It makes me nervous because he's small for his age and not used to rough older kids!