CRANKY OLD WOMAN?


CRANKY OLD WOMAN?

Last fall I moved into a condo complex, consisting of three separate blocks of town houses. No, it is not a gated community, because I do not like to be fenced in or keep visiting friends out, but it’s an adults only designated complex. Of course if grandchildren visit together with or without their parents, that is generally acceptable and within reasonable parameters for length of time to stay. This is all laid out in the Strata rules.

Now to my delight this complex of only three floors also has a swimming pool, recently refurbished with a new coat of paint on the bottom and walls, and freshly tiled around the skim line. The Barbecue patio by the pool is freshly painted as well and we have a brand new professional (5- burner) monster of a grill built into a brick console. So lovely, and so convenient, as the rules prohibit BBQs on the private decks of the units, as a fire prevention measure. It is totally fine with me, as I am not a daily griller.

On day one of pool opening, Monday, I had a day off and decided to try out the pool. On this sunny day, the pool was empty, except for a woman, maybe in her thirties, with a toddler in her arms standing in the water; her child had wing floaters. Two ladies my age sat in lounge chairs by the pool across from, chatting with each other.

I sat by the pool for a while, mustering enough courage to try the water. It turned out to be a balmy 22 degrees and I felt no cold shock at all when I glided into the water, absolutely lovely! I swam for a while, then dried up and enjoyed the sun, then swam again when I felt warmed up. I had called a friend to join me who was also on her day off, and she arrived.

The woman with the child started to annoy me. She had a very loud voice, speaking to her son, as if she was on a theatre stage, for all to hear. Maybe the child is deaf, I thought. I rejected that idea quickly when I heard what she was saying. It was just that type of woman who likes to hear her own voice and want to be noticed.

The child was not that happy, being held all the time, so the mother put him on the rim of the pool on the cement deck, while she stayed in the water, beside him. The child did not like that either and started fussing and was becoming louder. “Use your words honey” she loudly told him, although it was clear from having observed the two of them for a while, that this child had no language yet.

The mother was pretty much unresponsive to his needs, which were pretty obvious to anybody who knows about, or had children. Alternatively, she was giving the wrong response, making the child even more testy. I cringed by each conversation piece I could not avoid witnessing. She threatened the boy to leave the pool (take to Nana) if he wasn’t happy.
My friend went to have a swim. She tried to lighten the mood by asking the mother how old the child was. The mother happily answered and commented that she is using Nana’s pool and suggested that our day was spoiled with them being there. By simply not talking to her, I guess she had gotten my vibes. I replied that I would take my chances coming here. I was thinking I am just so done with little kids, especially other people’s kids, and their mothers that seek vicarious attention through their kids.

When I was swimming, she moved backwards into my space, child by then still out of the pool, by itself on the pool deck. An unused pool air mattress was in my way; I lifted it out and put it on the deck. A number of pool noodles were floating around, unused. This little boy was only barely running and surely would not know what to do with a pool noodle. The child started a fuss and tried to put the air mattress back in the pool.
The mother got out of the pool and took her son to the other end of the pool. As long as she was there, I could ignore her voice, as it was far enough away.

The rest of the week I did not really have a chance to go swimming after work, with other activities on the go.

Today, on a Sunday afternoon after lunch, I thought I’d catch a few rays and swim a bit. Who was there? You guessed it, that same mom and her toddler. One other person of my age sat by the pool. To my horror, two more friends of the woman arrived within five minutes, together with husbands and more children, before I could use the pool. There went my quiet Sunday afternoon by the pool.

The two women that were speaking at the same level of loud, were obvious sisters, and one man was a brother that was quiet and stayed on the side. All three had the same built, chunky and square, while the third woman was quite tall and skinny, the brother’s wife. The other man left as soon as he could, after ten minutes, slamming the gate behind him that sounded like a shot being fired right beside my chair. There were now three kids. Lots of yelling across the pool from the two loudmouths to their children and to the brother, who came closest to my end of the pool, farthest away from the women, with the toddler and the older child, I guessed about 4 years old. The new child, a baby, was held by her mother, the sister-in-law. Daddy is babysitting his nephews, good man.

The two sisters and the brother were now drinking from beer cans.
From what I could gather, the sister-in-law was the most clear headed and responsive parent of the bunch. I heard her explaining things about kids to the other two in their conversations together. At one point the 4 year old was alone on the stairs at the 4-feet-deep end of the pool without life jacket, far away from the adults. He refused to wear a life jacket, his mom had explained earlier, so. She got his way. Yes, of course, what could happen, right?
Suddenly, lots of yelling from the oldest child tore at my ear drums. I had to look up from my book that I was trying to read. His uncle had left him there, while he took the toddler to his loudmouth mom. The 4 year old had more sense than his uncle and was afraid, with cause, left on his own there in water that would be over his head had he stepped off the steps. The uncle went back to the screaming kid, to do something with his nephew. Great, the screaming stopped.

More people, all mature residents of the complex, settled by the pool and watched the happenings. It was not over yet. At the next moment, the toddler stood by his loudmouth mom, no floats on his arms, and a sudden very loud scream from her demanded everybody’s attention, again. I guess when she really looked at her son for a rare moment, she realized that he was close to the rim of the pool at the deep end. She grabbed him roughly, so that he almost fell in the pool. The woman apologized loudly to everybody in general, “Oh sorry! That was louder than I meant. I thought he would fall in.”

I stayed for about an hour, and swam once trying to avoid the woman that had also entered the pool then; she stood in the pool at the 4 foot end, holding a beer in her hand. Then I tried to just get a bit of a tan and turned on my stomach. I no longer could stand the intrusions, and felt they had taken over our pool, and then left.

No Nana had been in sight, not the first time and not the second time. I have suspicions that maybe there is no Nana at all and they got their hands on a pool key somehow. Why else is there no Nana at the pool, and how come nobody visits with Nana, if she can’t leave her townhouse? The next time when I will see this mom (because I am sure she’ll be back) I am going to ask her in what unit her mother lives.

I am amazed that I have become so territorial about a place that I have barely lived in for half a year. My quiet time and limited space are so important that I felt almost hostile to those that interfere with that and spoil it for me. As far as the “guests” go, I think visiting your mom is great and if Nana was there too, it would feel different for me. This was not the case today and not the previous time.

These people exploited the pool space in my view. Even if they have a mother living in the complex, unlimited use of the amenities by adult children of residents is not alright with me. As well, the pool is definitely unsuitable for small children and is strictly an adult amenity, or at the very least, for older children and adults. There is no shallow end, no water toys for kids. The local beaches have play grounds, lots of sand to dig in, and a water park for kids. That’s we’re most young families that are child focused take their small children.

What do you think? Did you have similar experiences? Do you have any advice or good tips for me, so I will survive condo living?
I would so appreciate your feedback and comments to this post.

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About BABYBOOMER johanna van zanten

My name is Johanna van Zanten. I am a baby boomer, interested in writing and connecting with other writers and readers to engage in discussions and information sharing, to share a point of view about current global issues, writing, and publishing, diversity, immigration, travel, music, life, specific baby boomer issues, and dating/relationship issues. I have written a novella, ON THIN ICE about baby-boomer Adrienne and will link this blog with the information website for this novella. Right now, I am trying out the blog.
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4 Responses to CRANKY OLD WOMAN?

  1. Condo ownership can be great but as you’ve discovered there can be some surprises.

    First of all, I’d suggest checking your condo bylaws to see if there are specific rules around pool use. Perhaps the current situation has already been anticipated. For example, perhaps there’s already a rule about pool ‘guests’ having to be accompanied by a condo resident. Perhaps there’s a rule about how many guests an owner can have at the pool. And if the pool is outdoors, I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s a rule about excessive noise from the pool area. I’m sure nearby residents would like to have windows open without having to listen to what you’ve described coming from the pool area. If there are no rules, perhaps it’s time to have some passed at the next AGM.

    I don’t think you’re being cranky at all. You’re paying for these amenities with your condo fees and you should be able to enjoy them without undo disturbance by ‘guests’ who are not paying for them. Now if the loudmouths were residents that might be a bit trickier to deal with.

    Best of luck.

  2. June Collins says:

    I am downsizing this year and briefly considered moving into one of these ‘Over 50’s’ complexes. Your story has just convinced me that my apprehensions were correct. Think I’ll buy a motor-home instead. I can always move on.

  3. Thanks so much for your response. I think I will have to deal with it, get involved and enforce or ask strata council to enforce the rules if there are any about this issue.
    I need a base to travel from. Standing on a campground with a number of generators destroying the peace and drunk campers shouting is also not great; it happens. But then you can move on.

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