I can count on one hand the number of times I have gone swimming in a lake. Why? Well, first of all, I grew up with a backyard swimming pool, so there was no need to travel to go swimming. Second, I live in New Jersey. If we are going to travel to swim, we are going to the Jersey Shore. Last, I hate swimming in lakes. I hate everything about it. The water is murky. There are things floating in it. There are weeds that tickle my legs and make me feel like a creature is rubbing against me. And, finally, the water is usually too cold for my taste.
So, why did I choose to take my children to swim in a lake for New Experience #27? Simply because if I expect my children to try things that expand their comfort zone, I have to expand my comfort zone as well.
I wasn’t looking forward to this experience, but the kids were beyond excited. The drive to Round Valley Recreation Area in Lebanon, New Jersey was less than an hour, but I heard “Are we there yet?” and “How much longer?” at least 3 times from each child. My children love to swim. This is a big change for Luke. When he was a toddler, I couldn’t even get him into the bathtub. I had to pay a teenager to come to my parents’ pool for private swim lessons because Luke wouldn’t even get in the pool with me. I am not sure why he changed his outlook, but it reminds me of that parenting adage that you get a new kids every 6 months. Children change so much in such a short time.
As soon as we got to the lake, the children were amazed. They didn’t expect there to be so much sand. Round Valley is actually a man-made lake, so the beach does resemble the seashore even more than I expected. We put down our towels and prepared to walk to the water. As soon as Leah took off her shoes, she screamed that the sand was burning her feet. So, we wore our sandals as we walked to the edge of the lake.
The kids ran right into the water. Surprisingly, there were no weeds to tickle our legs. I felt more comfortable than I expected I would. However, the water was as murky as I remembered, and there were lots of things floating in it. I think they were just remnants of weeds or plant matter, but I don’t want to research any more to find a definitive answer. On a positive note, we have had an unusually hot summer, so the water was pleasantly warm and not nearly as uncomfortable as I had anticipated.
Luke had a ball doggie paddling around the lake while Leah danced in the water. I am not sure where she came up with her water ballet idea, but it is her favorite thing to do in water in which she can touch the bottom. We also played tag in the water for quite a while.
After our fingers and toes were shriveled, we got out of the water for a picnic lunch. The kids also attempted to build a sand castle, but the lakeside sand wouldn’t stick together the way the sand by the ocean sticks. Instead, we dug a few deep holes.
We decided to go back in the lake for a quick dip before we had to leave. This time, I was the one who ran to the lake the fastest. My children thought it was because I was excited to swim again. In reality, I had forgotten my sandals by the blanket and nearly burned the bottom of my feet off.
Before we left, we saw minnows in the shallow part of the lake. The kids wanted to catch them with their bare hands, but they quickly learned that fish swim a lot faster than they thought possible.
Overall, New Experience #27 was a success. I still don’t enjoy swimming in lakes, but Luke and Leah might be able to convince me to go back to Round Valley again this summer.
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