Like a fish in the water


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With all the sunny days Colorado Springs gets, a swimming pool is a good investment, especially if you have a small boy crawling around and getting mad if he isn't kept busy. You should have seen his eyes when we rolled the plastic pool into the backyard. Water is one of his favorite things on earth, and he would probably be happy just sitting in the grass while I spray him down with the hose, but the opportunity to sit in an inch of water is one he will take every day.

As far as depth goes the pool is not deep enough for me to bob for apples in, but we try to give our boy at least enough water to get wet with. It’s best to build depth slowly over the summer. He’s already attempted several times at the act of breathing underwater. He’s the type of daredevil who will fill his bathtub to the brim the first chance he gets to work the faucets on his own.

We use a powerful sunscreen — which may as well be a coat of paint — and I am instructed to lather him up until slippery because my wife thinks his skin is as thin as a ghost’s. She puts a wide-brimmed hat on him and teaches him to crawl in the shade. Osh Kosh makes plenty of swim trunks but we opt for the safety of a swim diaper, which holds more water than a bucket and fall to his ankles every time he stands up.

It’s best to splash around early in the afternoon, before the thunderstorms blow in and block the sun. Water temperature is important for any warm-blooded mammal, but especially important for a baby. I have yet to get it right. I can't tell you how many times I've dipped my hand in after the bath to find out the water was too cold or too hot.

In the case of a swimming pool, my son enjoys slapping water so much that he insists on staying in until his teeth are chattering. There are only so many hours before the clouds come in and the lightning starts flashing, so the sooner you get him shivering the better. He doesn’t go easily, grabbing the edges of the pool so you have to pry his blue fingers away and clutching the doorframe. He doesn't make a noise throughout the struggle, but while I towel him off he looks at me in the same disappointed way he does at lunchtime, when I bait him with bananas and switch in the green beans at the last second.

When the swimming is done, I dump the water in the dry spots in the front lawn to keep the HOA happy, and I store the pool on the side of the house under the rain gutter. It’s against Colorado state law to keep rain barrels, but not swimming pools.

Pico spent his childhood years in the Springs. Now, as a father, he's seeing the city (and life) in a different light. Follow him on twitter at @DavidXPico.

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