By Jim McCloskey
I’m developing a new appreciation for wise watershapers who brief their clients about a swimming pool’s longer-term lifecycle. Whether it comes as part of their presentations or gets included in final orientation meetings, I see this practice as being important to setting homeowners’ long-term expectations and cuing the ongoing use of their backyard resorts – especially when young children are part of the initial picture.
With another long, hot summer sliding to a close, I’ve been flooded by memories of days when my own backyard resort was packed with children – at first by my three girls, but then, until the last of them moved away for good about six years ago, by a constant rotation of other people’s girls and boys who joined them.
I remember when our own kids were very little, wearing water wings and limited in play range to the inside of the spa: Its bench became a platform for all sorts of silly games, most of which involved pouring water from a plastic pitcher into various pots, pans and cups – sometimes in genteel tea parties led by our oldest but also in riotous water fights usually instigated by the younger ones.
All three learned to swim in our pool with their mother as instructor. The oldest went on to take formal lessons and spent some time on a youth swim team. The others learned mostly from playing in the pool and, like their father, gained their real water savvy by spending time at the beach and in the ocean.
For years, however, it was our family of five in the pool with never a dull moment other than the few I managed to squeeze in for quiet floating and reading.
As our girls grew, other children began showing up with them. These visits by young friends always kept Judy and me on our toes, first because we wanted to make certain everyone was capable of swimming and handling him- or herself in the midst of the pool’s vigorous activity, then because we wanted them to know that noise-sensitive adults were around to encourage them to maintain some limited sense of decorum.
Our youngest moved away for good a long time ago, and now none of them comes home to visit as often as we’d like. But when one does, if there’s any warmth to the sun, we’ll find her stretched out next to the pool picking up pretty much where she left off – although it’s often at times of the year when the water’s not quite tempting enough for a dip.
And then something wonderful happened: grandchildren. Suddenly, the old pool found new devotees, and we look forward to their visits and the rekindling of a form of poolside living Judy and I had started to forget. One key difference: Where in the past I’d been oppressed by the need to wash just about every pot and pan we owned after they’d been used as pool toys, I don’t much mind it now.
It’s funny: As our kids were growing and then moving along as adults, Judy and I began converting the backyard to suit our needs. We went from a space with a large lawn area, a big swingset/treehouse/slide and plenty of running-around room to one with a large redwood deck, big planter boxes that keep us in tomatoes and basil from May until October or November, a big stone sundeck and assorted fruit trees – no straight running lanes to be found.
The pool and spa are still right where they’ve always been, of course – and that’s right where they’ll stay. Our needs have changed, the cast of characters has new faces and the sort of entertaining we typically do has mellowed considerably, but the pool and spa are constant, valued and valuable – sources of happy memories, good fun, healthful exercise, hydrotherapy, easy relaxation and, year after year, so much more.
Your clients may not be considering any part of this evolutionary procession as they sign on dotted lines or get primed to start using their new pools. So if chats about the future aren’t part of what you do already, please give them a shot: By letting your clients know you’ve been thinking things through on their behalf, you’ll help guide them toward the good life right from the start, with unfolding memories, repeated renewal and multiple cycles of fun to come!