I'm not sure what it is about our Grundy Center Aquatic Center but it seems to bring out the "beach" or maybe "bee-otch" in me. I take that back. I totally know what it is about the pool that brings this out. It's unsupervised children.
The other day, it dawned on me. I am "that" mom. You know the kind. The ones you see scolding someone else's kid, or telling another kid to wait in line, or deliberately taking time so that the antsy kid behind them has to (gasp!) wait for a second. I'm not sure if this is due in part to being a teacher, or being an ex-lifeguard, or being a mom. Or maybe it's just a little bit of all of these that makes me feel entitled to disciplining someone else's cherubs. That added to the fact that, if you are not going to watch your kids, then I am. Dammit.
Example #1: Future Firefighters
Our pool has a fabulous splash area (perfect for toddlers). Water splashes out of the ground and the kids love running through it. This area is mostly for younger kids, but every once in awhile some super cool older elementary kids find themselves there. The big draw for them are these "fire fighter" nozzles that spray water all over. Apparently it's awesome to turn the things on full-throttle and soak your brother or little sister with them. Anyway, I was helping Charlie slide down this (super awkward) turtle slide when I saw two girls head over to the hoses. I trotted over to them and (in my best teacher voice) told them I needed their help to keep the water away from the babies (there were several toddlers playing there at the time). They nodded and went back to spraying each other.
No sooner had I gotten Charlie situated on that damn turtle slide when a giant gush of water sprayed right across his face. Of course, he started screaming as I'm struggling to not kill myself as I stumble down the slippery turtle steps. The little girl (with zero common sense) hadn't even noticed the commotion she was causing and continued to keep the spray directly on us.
I marched over to the two girls and asked them what they were thinking. Here I had trusted them to help me out and they didn't even listen! A poor baby could get very scared, not to mention hurt by that water and apparently they didn't even care. (I knew I had their attention when lips began to tremble) I asked them if they knew any babies and if the thought those babies would want water splashed in their face. I asked them a few more guilt-ridden questions before they headed back to the pool with their friends. Did I make them sad? Yes--the one cried. But did I inhibit them from bothering the little ones for the rest of the time? Yep. Mission Accomplished.
Example #2: Circus Monkey
This example also takes place on that stupid turtle slide. (Charlie really loves it, but the main problem is that the "designers" of the slide weren't parents. The thing is super wide--making it impossible to hold onto your child from the side. The steps are slick plastic, so while it's intended for toddlers, those just mastering the walking thing seem to have trouble. That's all.)
C and I were starting to head down as this little boy was climbing up. I glanced around and didn't see a mother watching him. (Shocking) So, I told him that he needs to go around to the stairs. He looked at me like I was an alien and kept trying to climb the slide. Eventually, he slipped and slid down the slide so C & I had an opportunity to go down. But just as C was "landing" the kid comes flying down the slide and slammed into him! Oooh, mama bear was pissed.
"Hey! GET over here!" I called to the little boy. He was both young enough and dumb enough to listen. I asked him to look at me and told him that C was crying because someone (you) just ran into him. I also said something about accidents happening, waiting your turn, being patient, and looking out for little kids. Then I said, "Where is your mom & dad?" (It was family swim time) He replied, "I don't have a dad". (I thought to myself, "oh shit Karah.") I asked him where his mom was and he pointed her out to me. ("shocking" was my first thought when I realized to whom he was pointing) I told him he needed to go tell her that she is supposed to be watching him, not talking on her phone or he is going to get reported to the lifeguards. (I thought that sounded very "law-enforcement" ish for a little kid) He went right over to her, but I doubt that he told her everything. If nothing else, he quit screwing around on the slide and C & I enjoyed our remaining pool time.
I have a deep bitchy vein that runs through my body. I like to think of myself as a pleasant person, but I'm willing to voice my concerns as well. And while some mamas out there might be offended when someone else disciplines their child, my response is this: You are right. YOU should be the ones watching them, teaching them, and telling them no. It is NOT my place to do so. However, if you are not going to do these things, then I am. Period.