Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Atta Girl!

Sticks and stones may break my bones, 
but words will never hurt me.


What a gorgeous day it is, today!  Cool.  A sweet breeze.  Deep azure sky.  A great day to go to the pool and just lounge and cool of with a dip or two.  I unpacked my water, sunscreen, pencil and my Sudoku book where I usually do at the deep end of the well.  After I lotioned up, I got comfy and began my puzzle.  

At the corner to my right there is a large round table with an umbrella.   A mom and her two daughters unpacked.  Well, okay; the  youngest girl did.  Mom and older sister stayed dressed.  Older sister was busy with her cell phone.  She looked to be eleven or twelve.  She looked positively bored out of her mind.  The youngest had to be around eight.  She took off her shorts and top and let her mom apply sunscreen.  This kid looked tired.  I really paid no attention.  I do my share of people-watching, but I do that everywhere I go.  I was truly more interested in working on my tan and getting some brain food in.

I noticed that one of the two lap lanes was being used.  One of the regulars that swims 100 laps religiously every day, God bless her.  Back to my puzzle.  I'm now distracted by a little voice.  I hear;

"When I'm done can I play with ..." She mentions some other girl's name.  Apparently this other girl is frolicking under the mushroom.  Our pool has a giant "mushroom"  that has water fall around the top, spilling into the beach entrance area.  It's really nice.  Back to my puzzle.  I hear a splash.  I see this young girl dive into the second lap lane.  Mom is timing her.  She walks along as her daughter does a wicked butterfly.  Back to my book.  I am distracted again by this kid, but now, she has come back to my side of the pool.  She's coughing.  I see her mom shaking her head.

"Not good enough.  I told you not to bring your arms out like that!  Do it again."  Now, I have officially lost interest in my puzzle.  I still hold it.  I'm wearing dark shades.  I watch.  "On your mark.  Get set.  Go!"  I watch this woman walk along the pool edge.  She glances at the stopwatch, then shakes her head.   I try to concentrate on the number 8's that I am trying to place into my puzzle.  The girl swims back.  She is gasping.  She exits the pool and heads for their table, drying her face.  She sits down.  

"I want five jumping jacks.   Come on, stop it lazy-butt.  Five jumping jacks."  

Her older sister chimes in:

"God, you're so stupid."   I glance their way.  Older sister is already back to texting.  Mom says nothing to her elder daughter.  She then walks back to the lane.  

"Come on, just five jumping jacks.  Then six freestyles."  I see the younger girl get up.  She does the five jumping jacks.  Standing there, she looks so sad.  She's waiting.  "Okay let's go!  Six freestyle!"  The young girl puts her goggles on and starts adjusting them.  She stands at the pools edge.  "Please tell me you don't need for me to give you a prize for doing this.  On your mark..."  I am now watching them.  My Irish-Italian-Mexican blood is churning.  I watch from behind my book as she swims.  Gotta say, this kid is a great swimmer.  She flew across the lane.  As she came to our side again, I hear mom utter a disgusted "Nope" as her daughter surfaced.

"That's good.  Not good enough.  You're never going to win if you keep this up.  Do it again."  

Visions of Mommie Dearest filled my head.  She dove in again.  This time when she reached the end of the lap, I could hear her mother from across the pool.  

"Why do you keep doing that? Stop kicking like that, you look retarded!"  She swam back.  Got out and again went to her chair and toweled off her face.  Taking off her goggles, she asked if she could now go play with her friend.

"Later.  Come on, get dressed.  We have to go home and work out." 

Not one compliment.  Not one, "Atta girl!"  or "That's MY girl!"  It made me sick. Made me want to cry. 

Not once did that child complain.   Not once.  I put my book down and grabbed my water.  I took my shades off as they walked past me.  Mom kept drilling the girl all the way out of the pool area.  The lifeguard looked at  me.  I simply shook my head. She shook hers back.  It wasn't just me.  Another lifeguard was approaching the well.  He passed them as they exited the pool.  

"Poor kid." He muttered as he passed me.  

I get that this kid is obviously on the swim team.  I get that they have to practice and work out.  I hope this lovely girl will continue swimming.  I hope she will still get joy out of it.  I hope that maybe today mom was just having a bad day and was moody. I keep seeing this child's face looking at her mother after completing a lap, just hoping that maybe she'd get a compliment this time.  A pat on the shoulder? A high-five? 

Maybe I'm old-fashioned.  I don't know.  Don't really care.  Words hurt.  They hurt more than you can ever know.  I am no perfect mother.  Far from it.

Alex then joined me at the pool.  In retelling this story to him, he replied:  "Sad.  So glad you're my mom." 

Gonna go hug my kids. 


  1. So sorry for that little girl. Tiger Mom's are a real thing, so are the scars they make.

  2. It saddens me beyond words to hear stories like this. Childhood bullying is horrible when it comes form other kids. But when it comes from your own parents... well, that scars for life. Sounds like someone needs to throw mom in the pool and see how well she performs. Sad!

    1. I agree. It is bullying. Mom was probably treated the very same way by her mom. I pray this little girl can rise above.

  3. Mary my dear, you always touch my heart. Please keep on writing.

  4. It seems to me that this woman felt the need to impress the life guards. I see this a lot at our pool; parents talking just a bit louder than necessary right next to the life guards who are seated just above them. At least they are encouraging and lovingly showing them how to swim.


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