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Dear Mom At The Pool, Pay Attention To Your Kid

All summer long a rant has been bubbling up inside of me that is two not-even-full sentences long:

Dear Moms At The Pool,

Pay attention to your kid(s). 

We’ve averaged a trip a week to the pool this summer. Me and two kids. In water. See that? IN THE WATER. Me. With them. Because they can’t swim independently.

Well, guess what.

Neither can many of the kids I’ve seen in the pool without a parent or guardian nearby.

All summer long I’ve seen kids in the pool with no parents. If your child can’t swim more than 25 meters independently, you must be within 10 feet of them at all times.

Sure, there are lifeguards on duty, but do you know how many lifeguards there are versus the number of people in the pool? Don’t assume that because there are lifeguards on duty everything is dandy and nothing bad can possibly happen. Don’t do that.

Don’t send your kid off to swim banking on the 1 or 2 or even 4 lifeguards for the entire pool to be watching your child and only your child while you sit in a lounge chair actively looking away from the pool where your child is swimming.

I watched that happen yesterday.

A little girl Joshua’s age was swimming by herself. She was more proficient than him, but not nearly proficient enough to be sans adult. Her mother was twice the length of the pool away from where the girl was swimming. At one point I looked up and Mom, whose eyes were hidden behind sunglasses, had her head turned away from the pool while she lounged and sunbathed. 

Lady? Do you know how quickly people drown in water? Do you know what drowning looks like?

Today we walked over to sign Joshua in for his swim lessons and a mom was up in arms that her daughter had gone under water and where had the lifeguard been?? 

Well, Mom. Where were you? If you were in the same place you were on Monday when we were all swimming at the same time, you probably weren’t in the pool with your daughter. You weren’t on Monday.

On Monday you were in a lounge chair on your phone, 30 feet away. And I love my phone as much as the next mom, so I’m not slamming you for how much you love your phone. It feels like our lifeline. I get it.

But when your kid is in the water, put it down. Check it on the 10 minute safety break we have every. single. hour.

I looked out the window during Joshua’s swim lessons and saw the mom in the pool with her daughter and I was relieved that she was in the water. That maybe the experience had taught her not to rely on the lifeguard who is busy watching everyone. I shouldn’t have to feel relieved to see a parent in the water.

I’m thankful for the other parents in the water. Emma just walked right in once as we were on our way to get into the water and another mom scooped her up as soon as she fell. In the 5 seconds between the time Emma hit the water and was out again, my world stopped. I was never more grateful for another parent to be in the water than in that moment.

We can tag-team this water thing. But you have to be there too, you know? Your kids? Are not my kids. And while I will never let anything happen to another kid if it is in any way in my power to prevent it, don’t put me in that position when you can be in the water, too.

You know what else?

Floatation devices don’t count as a parent. They aren’t substitutes for active supervision. You can’t put your 4 year old in a puddle jumper and send him or her off to frolic while you kick back and play Candy Crush. Stop doing that. Stop thinking that putting your kid in a life jacket is the end of your eyes and arms and body being needed in that water.

All summer long I’ve watched moms at the pool thumbing their noses at pool rules and hoped and prayed and crossed my fingers that there were no disastrous results. Thankfully, there haven’t been any. Another parent or a lifeguard or the child’s actual parent has been there.

But I’ve been there enough to know that the behavior I’ve seen this summer is common practice.

This should not be common practice.

This isn’t a broken arm on a playground. This is drowning. In under a minute.

Writing this makes me feel uncomfortable because it feels judgy and I’m certainly not pool-perfect but I just can’t help it. This needs to get out of me because I’m screaming all the profanities in my head every time I take my kids swimming.

If your child can’t swim, get in the water or stay away from the pool.

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Saturday 31st of August 2013

This summer my kids and I were at a pool in a friends apt complex and we saw a woman ( we think it was the grandmother) walk away from the pool leaving a little boy there as she went back to her car to retrieve something. We were horrified at her recklessness. She never even bothered to ask one of us to keep an eye on him when she left although, leaving him in the care strangers would have been nearly as bad.

Amy O

Saturday 31st of August 2013

This is my pet peeve!!! Moms on their phones - at the pool, park, gym. Pay attention to your kid!!! The pool obviously is dangerous - but so many parents are just out to lunch... I love my phone too - but I'm always paying attention. I don't even bring it to the pool because I know I'll be in the pool and won't have a chance to mess with it. Ugh!!!


Friday 30th of August 2013

I definitely believe in water safety - I taught swim lessons and guarded 15+ years, and it is CRAZY how many parents depend SO much on largely teenaged lifeguards.

But. We live in a condo with a community pool, and Cole has been able to swim independently (no vest, no floaties) since he was 2; he can swim across the pool and back without stopping, can back float, and treads water for 10+ minutes. It drives me crazy when people freak out as he walks down the sidewalk, or jumps into the deep end. (The deep end is closer to our chairs, and he is under 3 feet tall - he can't stand in the shallow end either.) at this point, while I always have eyes on him, I no longer feel the need to be within arms' length, given his skill level.

The Many Thoughts of a Reader

Thursday 29th of August 2013

Ahhh that scares me. I grew up around water and I never feel nervous about my child near it but OMG COMMON FUCKING SENSE!!!!!!!!!!!!! The lake scares me the most where you can loose visibility so fast. Eeek. I just don't get not getting into the water with any child under 5 first off and ANY CHILD WHO CANNOT SWIM. Eeesh.


Thursday 29th of August 2013

Our neighborhood pool has a kiddie pool and a larger pool that are about 25 feet apart. My 4.5 year old likes to play on the steps of the big pool while my 2.5 year old likes the baby pool. On the rare occasion that they are in the same pool I am in the water with them but usually I put a chair between the two pools so I can watch them both and get to either pool quickly. It's the only way I've found to be near them both while allowing them to play where they prefer.

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