I have an irritating ability to foresee the death or at least egregious wounding potential of most situations involving little kids. It’s best I’ve had none of my own or I’d probably have to spend the next thirty-odd years on Xanax. My poor sister gets the receiving end of my neurosis every couple of weeks when I call her to say I’ve just had a gruesome nightmare about my nephew and she needs to be extra vigilant around stairs, or bathtubs, or windows.
Which leads to the pool party at my host-family’s house. It began much as it ever was, with a delicious and abundant lunch and conversation exchanged around charades, guesswork, and the occasional use of my dictionary.
After lunch, Giorgi, their four-year old grandson, wanted to jump in the pool. Over winter, their small pool sat empty, but was now filled to the brim with a visually impenetrable greenish-brown substance some might consider water. I did not. But Giorgi jumped in unconcerned and began his doggie paddle.
After several crossings, my host mother leaned over the pool, scooped up some water and sniffed. Apparently the sight matched the smell and soon an older neighbor boy was climbing into a hole on the side of the pool. He kicked his legs about deep in the hole until the pool water began moving. Thinking the pool was draining, I now began to worry less about Giorgi’s long-term health and more about his getting suctioned to the bottom and how would we ever find him in the pool’s murky depths?
But my host-mother yelled at him and he moved away from the swirling water. Relieved, I retreated to the shady bench swing where I soon realized there was no suctioning happening but rather we now had an infinity pool, with the water overflowing across the grassy yard and spilling into the driveway and out into the street.
No one seemed concerned so I lifted my feet and kept swinging, admiring the draping grape vines shading the yard and driveway, thinking it wasn’t a bad place to spend a summer. Auntie brought me ice cream and began sweeping the water away from the front door and by the time the older boy climbed back into the hole there was a good 2-3 inches covering the yard.
The pool now flushed and the yard a shimmery green under the baking sun, the adults disappeared. This left me responsible for three boys defying all known pool safely rules—from racing around the dangerously slippery and sharp-edged pool, to diving from a tottering pile of plastic chairs, to somersaulting onto…I’ve blanked out the rest, it was too much.
Eventually the maid came out with a peeled banana for Giorgi.
Now I should explain that the feeding of Giorgi, an adorable imp who does not sit still, was always a dramatic event when I lived at their home over winter. Meals involved the women shoving hard-boiled eggs and bread into his mouth followed directly by tea followed by more eggs and bread (even though the previous food was still bulging in his cheeks) while he darted around the kitchen gagging and ignoring their shouted demands to eat more.
So when the maid approached Giorgi perched on the side of the pool, I grew worried. And sure enough, she shoved a massive chunk of banana in his mouth and he jerked away and dove for the water, his cheeks still bulging. This continued through two more rounds of banana and pool dives while I began silently reviewing the Heimlich maneuver. But eventually Giorgi took control and raced for the bushes to throw-up and I decided the kids would have to survive without my vigilance and stood to leave.