Slightly defensive dad venting

Ken writes:

I took the boys swimming today. They found another boy there and they all had a great time splashing each other, playing tag and jumping into the pool. There was a life guard who had to tell them off for running once, but didn’t tell them off for jumping into the pool.

But I had to endure sighs and looks from a number of mothers who had their babies in the pool at the same time. For the most part, they huddled in the corners of the pool and I was careful to tell the boys off for splashing or jumping near the other bathers, but I think I was right not to stop the boys from horsing around and having fun in the pool even if it made the mothers and other bathers uncomfortable.

You can tell I’m feeling a bit chastened here (though no one actually said anything to me) and feel the need to justify myself. But I think I actually can give good reasons for my latitudinarian stance.

1. The boys were playing in the shallow end. The mothers with their babies could have gone into the main pool. The babies have floating arm bands and can’t touch the ground wherever they are in the pool. The mothers can stand on the ground in the main pool just as easily as they can in the shallow end. The only swimmers who potentially benefit form the shallow end as such are young independent swimmers, like the boys.

2. The boys were having fun. We take the boys to properly structured swimming lessons during term time, but they won’t take it as far as they could unless the learn to enjoy being in the water. And I think fun helps that.

So, my defence is that by allowing the boys to have fun in the pool I am taking the necessary preparatory steps to making them good swimmers, which is important for their future. And I had to do that in the shallow end where it was safe.


9 thoughts on “Slightly defensive dad venting

  1. I think you were in the right. I’m sure te mothers were aware of everything you have said and that’s probably why no one said anything outright.

    After all, small children can be annoying even to their parents. Those mothers, I hope, we’re probably annoyed but likely understood that someday it would be their kids splashing and having fun…

  2. Dot

    I tend to try to keep the boys on the other side of the rope when they are in that mood, but you’re right that the shallow end is of more use to them than to the babies. I hadn’t really thought of it that way.

  3. Helen Conrad-O'Briain

    You can’t assume mothers can stand up and manage comfortably in the deep end – some people are shorter than others. I couldn’t necessarily have managed a baby even with swimming bands in the deep end of a pool.

    1. ken

      Agreed. You probably need to see the pool. In the CRC pool, there is a really deep end (2m), a shallow end (1m) and a lot of space in between. Obviously mothers need to be able to comfortably put both feet on the bottom and have their chest and shoulders clear of the water if they’re to look after babies. There’s a lot of space for that in the CRC pool.

  4. If by ‘main pool’ you mean the deep end then I think you are being unreasonable to expect the mothers to manage their little ones there. It sounds like a number of the mothers thought you were being inconsiderate. I have a little boy who is five and while I want him to have a good time at the pool I also think he should learn to be considerate of others. Small babies are also learning to get used to the water too you know.

    1. ken

      By main pool I mean an area of the pool where the that comes up to the mothers bellies but is too deep for the boys. I agree that the mothers need to feel safe themselves in the pool if they’re to look after their babies.

      1. ken

        ‘Being inconsiderate’ = not thinking of others’ needs as well as one’s own. I think I was thinking of others’ needs: my boys, first and foremost, but also the other swimmers. I decided that they didn’t have a genuine need to be in the shallow end whereas my boys did.

      2. For insurance reasons the other parents may not have been able to go on the other side of rope with very small babies. I really don’t think such decisions are up to you as another pool user.
        I am well aware of the definition of the word inconsiderate – you don’t need to have a PhD and to have held an IRCHSS Fellowship to understand the meaning of the word. Given that you noticed that other pool users were feeling uncomfortable and were giving you sighs and looks then it does seem that you (and your boys) were being inconsiderate.

  5. ken

    I’m not sure I know what insurance difficulties you are thinking about. I assume it would be perfectly legal for the mothers to take their kids over the other side of the rope. If not, then that changes things of course. There are life guards in attendance and plenty of space on the other side of the rope where mothers can stand on the ground with the chest and arms free to look after their babies safely. I don’t see how my PhD and IRCHSS fellowship have anything to do with anything. I deny I was being inconsiderate because I considerered their needs and decided my boys needs were greater. I wonder whether (read ‘doubt that’) the mothers put as much consideration into their put upon self-righteous sighing.

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