I tend to like rules. Except of course when they are applied to me, in which case I find them restrictive, unnecessary, and mildly insulting. Still, there is an uptight little teacher’s pet in me that thinks chaotic New York could use some lessons from, say, uptight Japan, where people line up to get on the freaking subway trains. This part of me loved our recent visit to the Red Hook Pool, where recreation meets rules. (I’m going to propose this to the NYC Parks Department as a potential motto.)
Here’s how it works. You get there when it opens, if you have any brains at all. You wait in a line, or alternatively, on a line, should you actually be a native New Yorker or trying to pass as one. As you file in, a lady checks your combination lock and your child’s swim diaper. Don’t even TRY to pass off a non-swim-diaper as a swim-diaper! JUST DON’T EVEN. THEY HAVE SEEN IT ALL. You file into a cavernous locker room where your bloated diaper bag is crammed into a locker and locked up with aforementioned lock. You shuffle in your bathing suit and flip-flops, with your single towel and bottle of “sun scream” as Harper calls it, past the check-point where TWO GUARDS check to make sure you’re not smuggling in something awful like a gun or a pool toy. And then there you are, at the pool, where the air is filled with the birdish chorus of forty-seven highschoolers in day-glo lifeguard trunks, blowing their whistles at everything at all times. No running! No horseplay! No piggy-backs! Sometimes, I suspect, they were just whistling their whistles the way dogs chained up too long outside bars bark, just to remind themselves that they are still alive.
I only wish every park in New York had so many rules and so many people enforcing them. Just imagine — a playground where a guard collected all the dolly strollers at the gate, so that none of the children could fight over them! Sprinklers where roving herds of Big Kids were not allowed to suddenly gallop through, frightening delicate toddlers!
Anyway, it was a lovely outing. The kiddie pool is great — a large, shallow wading pool forested by stands of sprinkling devices — not that this fooled Harper and her buddy Hayden, who were distracted by the awesomer attractions of the big pool and the DRINKING FOUNTAIN which emitted a tiny trickle of warm brackish water WHICH WAS SO AWESOME. There’s no shade, which is a bummer to the shade-obsessed like me. And it was an outing, I should note, that was only possible because we met Hayden and his lovely mother Lara there, and she graciously spun Harper around the big pool while I watched from the edge, Alton sweating away in the Beco. There are some outings that are just real tricky with the tot/babe combo! I’m still figuring that whole situation out. But that is a topic for another post, perhaps.