Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Pathetic Parenting at the Pool

Starting today and for the next two weeks, I have four tennis tournaments to prepare for, drive to and keep track of. While this means that I will be able to be outdoors in the sun, it also means that I will be in a lawn chair or sitting on some metal bleachers instead of sneaking in a flask and lounging poolside.

Normally, this fact would annoy the shit out of me because summer is only so long and I hate the idea of acquiring shorts and tank-top tan lines. But believe it or not, it will be kind of nice to have a break from the pool because lately, there are more than a few people that are really pissing me off. It's almost like they're all preparing audition tapes for a new reality show about all the wrong ways to parent.

Hear my empty threats? The perfect scenario for a summer day would be hanging out with a fun friend, sitting for long periods of time in a lounge chair and watching the kids play together without any drama. Since this type of scenario only happens, well, never, it's best to just go to the pool anyway, accepting the fact that more time will be spent walking around the pool, settling the endless "who is drowning who" debate and taking kids to the bathroom.

What drives me insane is when a parent thinks that they're going to be able to have an actual conversation with another adult, while seated, and attempts to control their horrendous offspring by threatening them over and over again with disciplinary measures that everyone, especially the kids, know will never actually happen. For example:
  • If you don't stop splashing everyone, you're going to have a ten minute time-out.
  • If you don't stop screaming, you're done swimming for the day.
  • Don't hit her in the arm! If you do that again, we're going home.
  • You need to stop whining. If you don't stop whining, we're never coming back to the pool again.
  • Don't drown your sister! If you do that again, we're leaving.
  • That's way too loud. Be quieter, or I'm taking you home.
  • If you jump in head first again, you're grounded from swimming for a month.
Immediately after these threats are made, the parent goes right back to the conversation they were having and the kids go right back to splashing, screaming, hitting, drowning, diving, whining and yelling. At no point are any time-outs actually issued, no swimming time is taken away, and worst of all, they never do go home and always seem to return a couple days later.

You're going to learn how to swim whether you like it or not, goddammit! I will admit that I am lucky in that all of my kids learned how to swim without much effort or drama, and that the only way I had to participate in the learning process was to drive each of them to their two-weeks of swimming lessons. I didn't sign them up for lessons until I thought they were ready, old enough to understand how dangerous water can be, and made sure that they wanted to learn how to swim. As I have discovered, though, not everyone goes by this philosophy, specifically Psycho Sally, which is probably not her real name but that's what I'm going to call her, because Stupid Fucking Bitchy Moron would take a long time to type over and over again.

Psycho Sally showed up to the pool with her adorable little not-quite-three-year-old son, Ryan, and the first words out of her mouth were "Oh my GOD Ryan! If you're not going to listen we're going home NOW! Ryan, you need to stay RIGHT BY ME! RYAN!" She then strapped a foam swimming aid (that is designed to fit a much older, much more experienced soon-to-be-swimmer) onto Ryan's teeny body and instructed him to get into the pool. Apparently she didn't like how he got into the pool because no sooner did he have a pinky toe in the water before she grabbed the back of his foam floaty, yanked him backwards and shouted directly into his ear. During the next fifteen minutes, the following phrases, accompanied by more grabbing and yanking, were heard:
  • Scoop, scoop your hands. Do you hear me, Ryan? SCOOP I SAID! If you don't scoop, you will drown.
  • Ryan, you're a horrible swimmer. Why can't you swim better?
  • You have a swimming lesson tomorrow, I can't believe how bad you are at swimming.
  • If you don't learn how to swim, you will drown. Do you want to drown, Ryan?
  • Scoop your hands and that will keep your face out of the water. Stop laughing Ryan, this isn't funny. You're supposed to not drown.
  • The point is to not drown. Stop laughing.
  • Why can't you do this? That other kid can swim! (Note: That "other kid" she referred to was at least four years older than her son.)
  • Scoop. Your. Hands. How hard can it be?
  • Forget it, you're probably going to drown.
  • If you don't learn how to swim, we're never coming to the pool again.
  • Stop crying, Ryan. There's nothing to cry about.
After the super fun "swimming lesson," Ryan walked over to the shallow toddler pool and asked Psycho Sally if he could play in there. She said fine, if that's what he wanted to do, even though that was the baby pool for kids that didn't know how to swim.

I wanted to smack her and then shove her in the deep end.

Every moment can be a learning moment! A couple days later, a dad walked out to the pool with his three-year-old-son and two-year-old daughter. He strapped life jackets onto both of them and pretty much just chucked them into the water. The kids bobbed to the surface, sputtering and fighting back tears, and the dad, who I think I'll call Crazy Kevin, laughed it off by saying "It's just water! W-A-T-E-R! It's fun! Get your hair wet! W-E-T!"

After telling his son, Wyatt, to practice jumping into the pool, Crazy Kevin proceeded to try to keep the daughter, Olivia, from wandering over to the toddler pool. Over and over again all I heard was "Olivia! Olivia! Ollie come here! Ollie get your pacifier! Where's Ollie's pacifier?" And then, just in case we didn't all know her name by then, he started spelling it out in a song: "O-L-L-I-E. That's your name, isn't it Ollie! O-L-L-I-E! Spell it with me!" The girl just stood there with her pacifier dangling out of her mouth, pointing at the toddler pool and yelling "Poo!"

Since I was sitting near the toddler pool, I watched as she climbed in unattended while Crazy Kevin continued to chuck his son into the pool over and over again. No sooner had Olivia entered the pool then her pacifier popped out of her mouth and started circling around, caught in the current created by the drain. Now, I realize that if I were a nice person I could have stood up, walked over, fished the pacifier out and handed it back to Olivia. But this dad was really, really annoying which kind of erases any possibility of me being a nice person, and I kind of wanted to see how he was going to handle the situation. Sure enough, on it's second trip around the pacifier disappeared into the skimmer, and then the dad finally walked over, and then proceeded to pretty much freak out. "Where's the paci? Ollie! Where did you leave your paci? P-A-C-I. We need your paci." I, of course, could have helped at this point since I knew exactly where the paci was, but he wouldn't stop spelling words out, so I didn't.

The best moment of the day occurred when Crazy Kevin's perfect, smart, well-behaved children started acting up. Wyatt didn't want to share his life jacket with Ollie, Ollie didn't want to swim in the big pool but Wyatt didn't want to be in the toddler pool, Ollie was obsessively playing with something she wasn't supposed to which was making her dad visibly agitated, and then it happened: Wyatt threw a giant tantrum. Not a little whimpery one, not a medium-sized fatigue-induced meltdown, but a huge, scream-filled T-A-N-T-R-U-M.

Olivia just stood there watching the chaos with her paci in her hand, and that's when she looked over and noticed me, sitting nearby and watching the whole ordeal. I wanted to say hi Ollie. You're really cute, and just in case you're wondering how to spell dad, it's R-E-T-A-R-D.


hmaines said...

You really are Hilarious!

Annette said...

I really, really hope some of these stories are wildly exaggerated.

The Mean Mom said...

Sadly, these stories are hardly exaggerated, except for maybe, um, gee, now that I think about it, none of it is exaggerated.

On top of it all, yesterday I was lucky enough to watch the Angriest Russian Woman in Existence smack the crap out of her daughter after the little girl tried to eat food off of the ground. And it wasn't even their food, it was a stranger's food that the little girl was trying to mooch. And then the little girl started rummaging around through my pool bag looking for toys to play with. It was crazy.

Anonymous said...

Love your blog. I am not Cheri as in /Cheri hates it/, and I look forward to reading every day. Please don't use the word retard like that; I have a son who really is developmentally delayed and it isn't fair to put him in the same category as the morons you write about who could change if they chose to. Otherwise, malign to your heart's content, Mean Mom.

The Mean Mom said...

Since you combined your request with a compliment and stated your case so intelligently, I'm more than happy to say...sorry if I offended you and I will try really hard to not use that term in the future. Have a great humpday!