JD stands. He’s clad in heavy jeans (despite the heat) and his favorite anti-chores tee. His hat remains haphazardly set upon his head — the very head that was newly discovered to be harboring an unwelcome ring worm and has caused the entire homestead to be blanketed in a fog of Lysol and disinfectant.
He is bored. And thirsty. He ignored the recommendation to bring along a cold bottled water and some form of entertainment. (Next time, children, listen when I offer advisement). Occasionally, he whimpers, as siblings three laugh and splash in the deep end waters. He remains under the umbrella, alone – isolated at a crowded community pool.
I can’t help but wonder how hard it must be to be “odd man out” all the time, stuck between two families and two many parents. Uncertain of when to let his guard down and when to stay on high alert, he remains aloof. Each household demands strict adherence to rules and expectations foreign to the other abode and each includes siblings who are permanent residents of their respective homes, not part time dwellers.
He sighs. Wipes his nose. Searches for the ones who’ve left him. They laugh together – loud enough for him to wonder about the joke he’s missed, been left out of while sitting perched at the edge of his lounge chair. They create games, mingle arms and legs in chase, push one another under water in playful “gotcha” games. He buries his head in his chair – a nap and dreams commence (far better, I assume, than wishing he were part of it all).
Perhaps he’s been struck by the earlier comments about his ever-increasing fear of water. Even the youngest knows JD wont willingly don his swimsuit and join in pool play. He sits up minutes after beginning his soft sleep, and wearily looks toward the rippling blue waves. No doubt he sees the infants happily floating along in blow up boats with inflated sun shades shielding their sensitive heads. Or, the toddler jumping fearlessly into mama’s waiting arms, giggling even as she wipes water spray from her face. And the kid who’s probably about his age? He jumps in, too, quickly bounding back to the surface and hopping along in the shallow on his tip-toes, water up to his chin. It’s a whole society of swimmers.
Does he wish he were somewhere else? Is it fair to treat the others to activities he will refuse to partake in?