Every year around this time, the kids and I go through a big adjustment...it's the time of year when public schools are coming to a close for the summer months and we have to adjust to the new reality that, wherever we go, masses of other people will be there, too. For some reason, it's always a shock to our systems when this day hits.
For ten months of the year, we get to go wherever we want in relative quiet. We don't have to wait in lines and we get lots of attention from the staff of wherever it is that we are visiting.
Yesterday, the kids and I drove about thirty minutes out of the city to visit our favourite Aquatic Centre. Usually when the four of us are there, only a handful (maybe ten?) other people are in the pool - often other homeschoolers. :) I figured that yesterday would be our last hurrah before we stopped going to public places for the next two months.
We arrived at the pool just as public swim time was starting and were delighted to see that, sure enough, there were only about five or six others in the pool. Awesome. We started playing our usual game of tag in the lazy river, and had a few minutes of lobbing volleyballs back and forth.
Suddenly we heard a noise. Like a thundering sound.
What was that? we all wondered, looking at each other.
We soon found out.
Pouring out of the change rooms and thundering towards the pool were what looked to be the contents of about four greyhound-busline-size buses...kids and kids and kids and more kids were exploding in our direction. It was unbelievable. Within thirty seconds, we went from a delightfully serene swimming experience to deafening levels of sound and utter chaos. Kids screaming, tired teachers yelling that the kids should stop screaming and follow them and stop running.
The kids and I must have looked hilarious. As the masses encroached on our space, we four gathered together and hunkered down against a far wall of the pool, a wall which happened to be the divider between the main pool and the lazy river. As we huddled there, side by side staring at all of these people suddenly just everywhere, they all swarmed around and past us as they raced towards the lazy river and the stairs beyond that led to the water slide beyond. Within seconds, the line for the water slide went from one to over 40 kids; the lazy river was so body-to-body full that I didn't know how the lifeguards could manage it until I noticed that at least six extra lifeguards suddenly materialized and climbed into the water to keep watch at closer proximity.
For ten minutes the four of us sat, veritably traumatized, against that wall. Very amusing to the average passer-by, I'm sure. But we were stunned, disappointed. (We learned later that a school was enjoying a field trip.)
After ten minutes we were done. Even my normally-very-loud-and-never-stops-talking Lizzie was complaining that it was "just way too loud" in there. We bolted. First, we ran for the sauna room, hoping that it would help us dry off quickly...and we laughed when we opened the door because sitting inside were four men (the only men present in that building, I do believe) who were just sitting there and who were "hiding out" from all of the noise, hoping to remain undetected.
And then we ran for the relative serenity of the change rooms. Changed into street clothes and got the heck out of dodge.
How to people do that? How do you bear the line-ups and the sheer noise level of being so packed in together? Do you get tired of waiting in lines and of being limited to vacation seasons to get any fun in?
We homeschoolers are so spoiled by having the run of most places from September through June and, though it sounds awful to say so, we vastly prefer it that way. It's just that we're not limited in our experiencing of things to the timing that is necessitated by school - we don't need to think about spring break, summer vacation, or Christmas holidays. In fact, for the most part, when we take a break or a vacation, we choose to do so during the school year...it's so much easier and more pleasant.
As we drove away from the pool a little while later, disappointed that our swimming experience was cut a little short, we all sighed and lamented that, once again, it was the end of the school year. But it also gave us a chance to think of one more reason why we're so glad to be a homeschooling family. We decided that we wouldn't go back to the public pool until our not-back-to-school day after the labour day weekend in September.