Time comes to a standstill on hot summer afternoons when there’s a toddler who needs to be constantly entertained.
It wasn’t that long ago when, if someone asked how my weekend was, I answered, “Not long enough. You, too?” Now I reply, “I thought it would never end. Has it actually ended, or are you part of my nightmare?”
Spring brought hope. By the end of the pandemic winter – our first and, hopefully, last – our four-year-old wasn’t climbing the walls as much he was ricocheting off of them. But that first nice afternoon changed everything. He ran. He rode his bike. He went to bed without protest. And I marveled at how quickly the time went by.
That easiness was short-lived, though. Even as the suffocating heat and humidity settled in, we carried on, hitting the playground on the reg and dodging a sprinkler shaped like an octopus in the backyard when it was too hot to do much else. But by early July, we were just going through the motions.
At the playground, he moved like a slug from one piece of equipment to the next. At home, he was good after a couple passes of the sprinkler.
Which brings us to the last Sunday in July. It felt like it had been 11 AM for about four hours. To his credit, he was really invested in his coloring that morning. But his attention was starting to wane, and I was dreading what the afternoon would bring. Or rather, wouldn’t bring.
Out of nowhere, he asked, “Can we go swimming?”
My wife and I looked at each other. Without saying a word, we agreed that hitting up one of our friends with a pool or a pool membership was more of a social commitment than we were willing to make. Then, just as I was letting go of the idea, she reached for her phone. A moment later, she looked up and said, “What about Riegel Ridge?
Riegel Ridge is a community pool in Milford. They sell memberships, but, critically, where we were concerned, they don’t require one to visit because day passes are also available ($12 for adults, $8 for kids).
When we arrived in the early afternoon, we were three of maybe a dozen people. I couldn’t believe our luck. In addition to the main pool, which has a totally adequate waterslide and a lane designated for lap swimming, there’s a smaller, shallow pool for kids with a handful of water features and a vortex pool.
Bring your own blanket or beach chairs because there isn’t any seating, aside from a pavilion with a few picnic tables.
Our son ditched the kiddie pool the second we offered him the chance to “swim” in the big pool. He just started taking swimming lessons again after the pandemic kept him out of the pool for the last 17 months. He loves the water, but to describe what he does in it as anything other than flailing around would be a gross overstatement.
Still, the ample shallow end was only three feet deep, which meant that he could walk on his tip-toes and keep his head above water. When we Facetimed my parents that night, the first thing he told them was, “I swam in the grown-up pool.”
A couple hours passed like water through a drain. We were barely out of the parking lot when I saw him close his eyes and keep them closed for the rest of the half-hour trip home.
It was a good day.
If you prefer a cocktail with your poolside lounging
Daily pool passes are also available at the Clarion Inn & Suites, in New Hope. This might be a more attractive option for those with older kids or no kids at all because there’s a poolside grill and bar.