End of the Endless Summer
It is late August in Sacramento, California. The thermometer reads 105 degrees Fahrenheit and this heat wave will continue for a few more days. It has been a tough summer and school cannot start soon enough. Not long ago, my next door neighbors moved and turned the house next door to me into a subsidized rental home. Within weeks, they purchased the house next to it and rented that home to a family needing subsidized housing. The home on the other side of me has been “for sale,” and my fear that they would buy that house as an investment has become a reality. Within a couple of months, my status as the one single mom with six children becomes meaningless and instead of being unusual, I have joined the standard of the street. The four houses that were owner occupied and housed a total of eight children now are 75 percent rental homes and are home to 14 children. My kids and the neighborhood kids are bored and I have the only built in pool on our block.
Early in the summer, I made a rule that no child could swim in my pool unless the parent came to meet me and told me it was ok for their child to swim in my pool. Very quickly, I realize I need to set more limits and within a few weeks, I cap the neighborhood swimming to one day per week for three hours. So, Fridays, 1-4pm becomes “neighbor day.” By 1:15 on “neighbor day,” the pool is full and I cannot safely allow anymore guests and the gate is locked. The children are as well behaved as can be expected and I do not worry about discipline problems because I can quickly take away swimming privileges. Still, I need to sit by the pool telling children to walk, insure they are not jumping on top of one another or damaging property. Obviously, I cannot leave my post from 1pm to 4pm on “neighbor day.” I actually enjoy watching then swim and play. One very hot day, as I am doing lifeguard duty in a little strip of shade, one of the more corpulent swimmers performs a first-rate “cannonball” dive. The water washes over the sides of the pool in great swells and I am sprayed with a cooling deluge. By the time the young man surfaces, all eyes are on me, wondering if there will be consequences.
“You barely got my knees wet,” I scoff. In seconds, all swimmers are out of the pool lined up to take turns at “cannonball” dives. I rank the splashes in scores of one to ten with my fingers. To earn a “ten,” a diver has to get my hair wet. The scores get lower as the highest drops fall lower on my body. Splashing my face is good for a “nine.” For a short time, there is a healthy spirit of competition, an activity enjoyable by spectators and participants equally and I am cool and comfortable. We all have a wonderful time.