Rules of the pool


After over 10 years of planning and two of construction, our backyard oasis is finished … almost. There’s still one last thing to buy. A state of the art hot tub equipped with interchangeable jet packs, surround sound, a small waterfall, and soothing lights to set the perfect mood.

The hot tub we want, and by “we,” I mean me, takes six weeks to build and then get shipped. That will give me plenty of time to write and post the Hot Tub Rules. You didn’t think there would be rules for our new hot tub? There are always rules around water. Especially for a pool that was located at 110 Flamingo Street.

Dad’s pool rules were painted on a large plywood board and nailed to a post on the short pathway leading to the pool. Unlike Neighbor Thomas’s, our pool was above ground and had no diving board. Oddly the first of Dad’s rules was no diving. This rule my three brothers and I broke every time we went swimming. The ladder going into the pool had four steps and we dove off the top one.

“No Diving” is also our first hot tub rule. Only having two steps will make diving hard, but not impossible.

No dunking of The Sister. Back on Flamingo, this was the second pool rule Dad listed on his board. It too was broken whenever our parents weren’t watching. Big Papa here will always be watching when our two granddaughters are in the not-so-hot hot tub. Being only 4 and 5, they can’t read yet. Still, the “No Dunking the Sister” is an important rule so I painted it on my board right underneath the “No Diving” rule.

Don’t play with the bat. This may seem to be a strange rule for a pool, but not if you have a light. Our pool light attracted flying bugs at night. It also attracted a bat that flew around eating a bug smorgasbord each night. One night the bat must’ve eaten too many bugs because the next morning we found him floating on top of the water unable to get out.

Outfitted with such large wings, bats have to climb up (usually a tree) then drop downward in order to start flying. After a quick capture, we all walked the bat over to the nearest tree so he could climb and then fly away. We never made it. Halfway there, I thought it would be funny to put the bat on Twin Brothers’ Mark back to see if he could climb up, drop, and then fly away.

I did and he did, and yes, it was really funny. I’ll never forget the image of Mark screaming as he tried in vain to get the bat off his back. He ran back and forth across our backyard twice before he took flight — the bat, not Twin Brother Mark. He just kept running and screaming – even when the bat flew away. Our spa also has lights so “Don’t Play with the Bat” will be the third rule.

Shower before swimming. Dad said this rule was to keep the pool clean. It made no sense to any of us. We all took a bath every night, sometimes even using soap, and Dad was constantly cleaning the pool. So why should we shower before swimming?

As an adult, I now understand. Sand and dirt will destroy a pool pump as well as a spa pump. So spa rule number four – “Shower before using Spa.” I have installed an outdoor shower with cold and hot water.

Finally, Dad’s most important pool rule was “No Eating or Drinking in the Water.” This was a rule we always followed – whenever our parents were around. We didn’t worry about spilling any food while floating on our rafts or tubes. Over night when the bat got finished eating bugs, it, or some other nocturnal creature, always ate any food left floating around. Spa rule number four: “No Food or Drinks Allowed.”

Upon reading, The Wife has informed Yours Truly that all my spa rules are just silly. Especially that last one. And if I try to enforce the rules, it will be me who will be in hot water – sitting alone.

[Rick Ryckeley has been writing stories since 2001. To read more of Rick’s stories, visit his blog:]