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Public Pool Parenting

This was years ago and there was no public alert notice posted anywhere.

Dates and places have been changed to protect the innocent… Here in Switzerland the unofficial day for spending time with the family is Sunday. It’s an unwritten law that states you must spend the seventh day with your loved ones regardless of your working and financial situation. I love my job, especially on the weekends when it’s peaceful and I don’t feel the pressure of customers calling for me to complete their work. Each Sunday morning Sandra gathers up the small people that live in our home and assembles a bag with swimming garments and beach towels and snacks. One Sunday a few weeks ago, (or not), we buckled the children into their car seats and off we cruised to some swimming pool somewhere. Eighteen francs was transferred from our pockets into the machine that controls the rotation of the turnstiles, and it allowed us to enter. Mila, who was two years old, wasn’t feeling well the past few days but she was all smiles this morning on the way to the pool. Earlier in the week she was having tummy troubles but all seemed good as we peeled off our street clothes and walked out of the changing rooms and into the heavy smell of chlorine and the sounds of families playing, splashing and having fun. Sandra loves doing laps and is adamant about doing forty of them every Sunday morning while I stay in the shallow area and save the kids lives every few moments when they sink beneath the water's surface and start breathing liquid. Robin was on the other side of the shallow end playing with his rubber shark and plastic boats and I was trying to keep Mila entertained as she slapped some splashes with her inflated wings that kept her head above the water. She suddenly stopped and slowed her movements. It was a quick break from the chaos of water and burning chlorine in my eyes. I grabbed Mila and pulled her out of the water to go walk over and join Robin. I wrapped my forearm around her bottom and felt a slippery mess on the outside of her bathing suit, just as I noticed an oily film floating around us on top of the surface. “Shit!” I said aloud. Mila pushed out a load of diarrhea into one of those special swimming diapers just before I picked her up out of the pool. Robin was coming towards us and heard me swear and saw the horror in my face. Robin yelled out “Did Mila poop?” so everyone else in the pool could most definitely hear. I instantly became angry and yelled at Robin to shut up, and looked around quickly for Sandra who was casually doing the dog paddle at the other side of the pool, oblivious to the predicament I was currently surrounded by. I climbed out of the shallow end splashing around the waters surface trying to break up the toxic contamination that my little girl dropped from her tiny bottom. I was sure the volume of chlorine they put into these public pools could eventually render the foreign matter harmless… or would it!? I was frantic and Mila was sad, but I was sadder, and told Robin to “go tell Mommy that I’m in the change room!”. “… but did Mila poop in the pool?”, “BE QUIET!”, I screamed in a loud forced whisper. I could feel the slimy diarrhea as I scooped her up in both arms hoping that nothing large and solid falls from her swimming diaper. A few small liquid shit droplets hit the tiled floor and I swiftly kicked the evidence away as I stomped towards the change room door and out of sight from the pool security cameras and frolicking families that were thankfully unaware of the befoulment that my daughter had brought upon the swimming community. Mila and I scurried into the men’s showers and I plunked her down on the floor. Luckily we were alone for the moment. I ran over and examined the path we traveled on to make sure there was nothing suspicious resting on the tiles. As I returned to the shower stall, Mila was crying and I frantically yanked her out of the bathing suit and the diaper saturated with shit dropped to the floor with a wide splash. “Fuck, Fuck, Fuck!” I yelled into the stall. On my knees I went scooping and dragging the goop towards the drain and pushing the chunks through the metal grate with my thumb. I turned on the shower so I could clean up Mila who was sobbing terribly. I was in a mad panic – I could hear a father and son coming towards the door and the water from the shower head was spreading the mess into the other stalls and past my knees out into the open. I consoled Mila while sliding my forearms across the tiles forcing the dirty water back towards my drain. I moved in front of Mila and the puddle of mud just as the father and son passed by the opening to the shower, and hopefully they didn’t notice me on my hands and knees elbow deep in fecal matter trying to calm a crying naked girl. There was so much of it and the drain holes were not accepting our gift fast enough. Swipe, push, console, sweep, gather and repeat until the water around me was less and less brown and Mila was less sad. Sandra called into the shower area from the door, “What’s wrong? Are you guys ok!?”, and Robin walked up to us to view the crime scene. Mila and I were past the worst of it and I tried to be calm and explain the happenings to Sandra while she stood outside the change-room. I emptied the remains of my shampoo bottle and scrubbed the floor until I was satisfied that no official Swiss Health organization would knock on our door later in the day. We all dressed in seconds, and with our hair soaking wet we were gone out the front door hoping no one witnessed the mayhem. We avoided this pool for the next month – scared that we would see a poster of us taped to the entrance door with a large red cross going through it.

Sandra just laughs at me, and likes to remind me that for most of our children’s existence, the majority of mishaps with vomit, exploding rear ends, and general bodily fluid unpleasantness has happened during my watch. I think the kid’s wait until it’s just me taking care of them to unleash their demons.



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