The pool that holds my entire childhood

Thursday, July 14, 2016



The first pool I can remember is Park Lawn Pool – a small pool in Etobicoke, down the tobogganing hill from my mom's house. I spent entire summers in that pool – playing Marco Polo in the shallow end, diving for coins on the last day of swimming lessons, learning to stride jump, failing Red three times because I couldn't manage to spread peanut butter with my arms and ride a bike with my legs for a full minute. It was the first place I was allowed to bike to by myself (though I was terrified of the "steep" winding hill down from the baseball diamonds that in retrospect is not steep, nor is it winding). It is where I learned CPR and the Heimlich manoeuvre and where I had my first crushes: Jennifer of the reflective sunglasses and Rebecca of the straight teeth and Mark of the zinc stripe on his nose. 

I did all of my swimming lessons at Park Lawn, including my Bronze Medallion when I was too young to officially pass but oh-so-keen, my bathing suits frayed from being dragged across the deck after playing the choking victim in the deep end. I was on the recreational swim team (the Park Lawn Pirates and the Park Lawn Piranhas) and it was there that Peter Mansfield's mom said I had the most graceful backstroke. Because of all of those summers on the deck of Park Lawn Pool, I decided I wanted to be a lifeguard. And then I was a lifeguard on that deck...


And then last weekend, I took my 16-month-old to Park Lawn Pool. We past my childhood bully's childhood home, and my Grade 2 best friend's house on the drive over, and though I have never driven to that pool in my life, I was covered in goosebumps when we pulled into the parking lot. The change rooms smelled like they always have (damp and rubbery with a hint of mildew) and the sun was hot on the cement deck like it has been every year since I can remember.

I did not teach Jack how to tread water or how to do stride jump. I did not tell him how hard it is to keep your head tucked when you are learning how to dive, toes curled over the edge of the deep end, or how far away the shallow end is when you're tasked with doing butterfly for the first time in your life. Instead, I sat with him on the edge, holding back tears from how surreal it was to be sitting on the edge of the pool that held all of my childhood summers with my own baby.

He did figure out how to kick his legs that afternoon, and how to hold onto a flutter board. 

Next up, bubbles...

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