A few weeks ago, our diving board bit the dust. Well, actually, it broke off it's rusted footing bolts (the switch to saltwater had been just too much for the ageing hardware) and followed its final diver into the deep end of our pool like some silly skit version of the sinking of the titanic. Luckily for all, no one was hurt, and the aforementioned diver was a fully-grown but not overweight adult. No, it wasn't me. Or Jon. No, I'm not going to tell you who it was, you'll just have to live with that.
We got all the rusted particles out of the water quickly, and the board and hardware have gone to the dump and recycling. But the bolts are still standing up out of the pool deck, corroded and unsturdy like a miniature ruined pier, menacing enough to demand that we all stay clear. Usually we just put a chair over them. I have been toying with the idea of not replacing the diving board. New ones made for saltwater pools would need different bolts and a different configuration, anyway, so we'd have to do some concrete work. I really should and just grind the old bolts down. "Maybe the kids would forget we ever had a board," I find myself thinking.
Today we hosted a birthday party for a friend's 7-year-old and had a dozen or so kids in the pool. There were plenty of balls and water toys to play with, but eventually some of the kids started competing for the best canonball and belly flop. It was during this activity that I learned something. If you don't give kids a path on which to run and from which to jump, they will make their own. And it may not be in a good place. It may be in a very bad place, or at least, a place that has high potential for harm, not only to themselves, but to those with whom they are sharing the pool.
Somewhere in there is a general lesson for parenting.
And I am going to buy a good quality, smallish, non-skid diving board as soon as we come home from Family Reunion.