Sunday marked the end of summer here in Austin. Which is odd, as it is 111 degrees out today. But our much beloved public pool down the street is now officially closed and that means we are without our go-to afternoon activity until next June. Lots of other people love the pool apparently as there seemed to be an entire cafeteria's worth of junior high kids dumped into the deep end yesterday. My word, there is nothing more awkward than a 12-year-old boy. Trust that you will grow into those limbs and noses young men! And I am completely perplexed by this generation of tweenagers' embrace of the bikini. When I was a kid—oh God, not one of these stories—we wore big old Hanes t-shirts in the pool over our unflattering one pieces. We crossed our arms over our goofy chests and worried if our thighs rubbed together. I'm not sure girls today strike me as any more confident or self-possessed but they do like to lead with their midriffs.
When one of Ava's gymnastic camp counselors showed up she proceeded to love on Ava for a bit. After one last hug she moved on to her own crowd where girlfriends engaged in a shrill chorus of Oh-my-God-your-shirt-is-so-cute-I-love-your-hair-I-missed-you-so-much catching up. Ava looked after the big kids longingly and finally asked if she could walk over to the benches by the deep end to say hi to Marie one last time. We said sure, but come back when Marie looks busy (read: over it) or gets in the water. So Ava strutted over to a group of about 30 high-pitched 8th graders and half awkwardly/half arrogantly assumed the middle. Papa Dog and I wondered aloud what was making her more nervous: The proximity of the deep end or the manic energy of an unfamiliar group. We should probably go get her, I said. But when we looked over again she'd appeared to have just finished a hilarious story and was giving everyone double high-fives.
Eventually Marie brought Ava back to us in the shallow end, where we'd been studiously trying to avoid getting roped into conversations with anyone our own age, especially the chatty Norwegian fellow and his gropey daughter. Poor Ava, already cool at 3 years old*, was once again marooned with her dud parents. Have mercy on your dear Dad in his riding-up bathing suit and a Mommy who thinks it's amusing to arrange a cape of wet hair over my face and put my sunglasses on over it and then ask the family about our goals for the year ahead.
*As if! You're the one who picked out those new Chubby Checker sunglasses and continues to fight with your father that it is now safe to look directly into the Texas sun. Also, remind me when you're 11 that every time you left the house as a child you insisted that we all put our hands in the middle and cheer "Sunglasses power activate!" ("Form of a nerd!" says Dad.)