Discover more from Megan Fera
It used to be that if some boss fresh off the disco wanted to give your kid a monkey to coddle in her bathing suit, that would be okay. I received this photo from my mom today, and when I asked just one of the 18 questions that came to mind she said simply, “He is a monkey man at a poolside at a hotel. I think it was in Columbus.”
Tonight this topic consumed our entire family dinner. 30 minutes straight of children riffing about how it would be to apply for that job, the poolside monkey man at a hotel in Columbus. About what type of Yelp review they would get, if it wasn’t 1980. And whether the monkey had a suite.
My children didn’t learn to swim until they were almost old enough to read. I was too afraid to teach them. For me, going poolside with babies was a somber dance of slathering creams and adjusting goggles and lurching over them with prayer - genuine prayer - for their skulls and lungs. Always longing to scream, “be careful!” Sometimes knowledge can mean progress. But more often, in my brand of parenting, knowledge means a kind of prescient vision concerning all that can go wrong.
Was it before or after this photo that my baby brother was born and almost died and then flew with our brave mother all the way to California, not for poolside play but for a new surgery that was maybe going to work, or maybe not? That little girl in the photo was taking notes in the process, about motherhood and fear and death. Now, progress means teaching her they weren’t all the right ones.
I’m going to guess that from the monkey’s perspective, progress means the absence of primates held captive at Midwestern hotels. But for me, becoming more like the mother who took this photo would really be progress indeed.