Are you There?

It amazes me that parents take their children to the pool to swim, and then completely ignore them once they are there. What’s up with that? Just because there are lifeguards on duty doesn’t mean you as a parent should be off duty! I am writing about this because I have witnessed this way too many times.

The other day I was swimming at our local pool and I noticed a child, who couldn’t have been more than 6 years old, if that, playing by himself in the water. I was in the pool with my 3 and 5 year old while my 4 month old was in the nursery facility offered there (which is so great!). This child looked bored and immediately came over to play with us. I often have a lot of kids around me since I like to act silly with my kids and we probably look like we are having tons of fun. I am all for my boys meeting new kids and being friendly, so I didn’t see any reason to be cautious. Well…things went downhill pretty quickly. Whenever my children would try to swim to me, this little boy would jump in front of them, cut them off and tug on me. It got to the point where I couldn’t reach my 3 year old who needed assistance in the pool. After looking around and FINALLY locating his father, I was faced with a dilemma. Do I say something or just let him continue to swim with us.

We moved onto our next activity which involved a large volleyball that was floating in the pool. After stealing it away from my boys, he then proceeded to hit me in the head with it, causing quite a bit of pain I might add. I again glanced at the boy’s father who was clueless and floating in the pool as if he was on vacation. Still not comfortable saying something, we then decided to play Ring Around the Rosy and before I knew it, this boy had cut in and tried to get in on the action. I realized that all he was seeking was attention and there was no malice involved. I actually felt bad for him but three kiddies in the pool became more than I could handle. My children’s safety was of course my main concern and I already felt if I wanted three, I would have taken my own third child in. I didn’t want to hurt this boy’s feelings and the father did not look very approachable so instead of saying something right then, I slowly moved my crew to the other end of the pool to play. Well, the boy followed us as I had suspected and as my 3 year old was swimming to me, the boy jumped in and practically landed on my child. I couldn’t reach for my child as this boy was in the way and my son started to panic. At this point, the safety of my own children was being compromised yet again and I had had enough. I turned around, located the floating father and said “Sir, I simply cannot watch your child anymore as two is as much as I can handle. Sorry. “ He had the nerve to say, “It’s okay” when I expected him to say, “Sorry” along with “thanks for watching and playing with my child”. Most parents would have stepped in a while ago and apologized for their child’s overbearing behavior.

I don’t believe I was wrong in my actions and I feel right that I finally spoke up. I don’t mind playing with other children and having fun but when my kids are in danger, that’s where I draw the line. I also wanted to bond with my children and have some alone time with them while the baby was in the nursery. I felt this little boy was not allowing us to do so. My 5 year old even said to me, “Where’s his parent”? If my 5 year old could understand the situation, why couldn’t this grown man floating in the water get a clue? If you are ignoring your child, they will seek attention from someone else and the person they are seeking it from may not be a fellow parent, like me, who is trying to look out for them.

If you are going to dedicate your time to your child, then do just that. I know it can be a challenge to stay away from your iPhone, difficult to not glance at your e-mails and sometimes excruciating not to see who responded to your recent post of your adorable child on Facebook…believe me…I am guilty of that. However, if you plan an afternoon together, whether it is at the pool, the park or at home, be 100% present and take that time to really get to know your child. How do they feel about school coming up? Who is their best friend in camp? Who is the latest and greatest superhero this week? Whatever conversation you are going to have, the important thing is having that communication. A few hours in the pool laughing and splashing could mean the world to your child and he will love you for dedicating that time to him. We as parents all could use a “float in the pool” and there is nothing wrong with that, but schedule those alone times when you are alone!