Today marked Lyd’s sixth day of swimming lessons. Every one of those six days I have observed another little girl, a little Asian girl about 18 months old. This little girl has been almost literally dragged by her grandmother into the pool, while the little girl clings to grandma for dear life and has a look of pure fright in her eyes. Mercilessly Persistently the grandmother continues to make this child spend time in the water. This child obviously hates it. A few of these previous six days, the girl’s (very posh) mother has come along with grandma and her daughter. This mother will put on her (very posh) swimming suit and take her panicky daughter into the pool. Same reaction as with grandma. This girl is clearly not enjoying her introduction to the water.
But worst of all is after class. The grandma insists that this little tyke should have her long (down to the middle of her back) hair washed in the shower after being in the pool. The child may have been scared before, but she is utterly and completely terrified/panicked about being put under the shower. And she screams. Oh, does she scream. And it is a scream that makes me want to run (fully clothed) into the communal, open shower, grab that poor girl out of her grandma’s seemingly-uncaring arms and say, “Stop this! Don’t you see that you are traumatizing her? What kind of a person are you?” But so far, I have refrained from getting involved.
Today Posh Mother went into the water with her daughter, and attempted to do the shower afterwards while her girl was kicking and screaming in terror in a way that was highly un-posh. The mother didn’t seem to be quite sure how to handle this, seeming not to be as bound and determined as grandma to wash that child’s hair. I happened to be walking past the showers with my girls at this moment. My eyes happened to meet Posh Mother’s eyes, and I said in a way that I thought was sympathetic, “She really hates showers.” The thought running through my mind was that Posh Mother hadn’t been around much to see how strongly anti-shower her daughter was, how absolutely terrified she was of the water, and perhaps if I told her how much her child hated the shower, she wouldn’t make her child go through it.
Totally interfering, I know. Should I have said it? Probably not.
But you see, I have a little daughter who only recently has decided that showers are okay as long as her hair is not being washed in the shower, because that is still Too Scary. And my daughter is at least twice the age of this little girl. I really felt for this little peanut of a girl, whose name I don’t even know, and I felt that Grandma and Posh Mother were pushing this girl needlessly to do something that she will learn to do in her own time.
Posh Mother responded quickly to my words, saying, “She has to learn sometime.” She looked away from me, pushing her daughter into the shower, ignoring her shrieks that were her way of begging for mercy. I turned away as well, taking my girls into the communal changing area, after asking my daughter if she wanted to rinse off in the shower, which she declined. Every time Lyd gets out of the pool, I ask her if she wants to take a shower. She always says No, and I don’t push it. In my mind, in the end, it really doesn’t matter, and it’s not a battle worth fighting. Yes, sometime, Lyd has to learn that it would be best if she at least rinsed the chlorine off her body when she gets out of the pool, but I just don’t think it’s worth it. She will when she’s ready.
I wish, somehow, that I could lovingly and compassionately convey that same message to Posh Mother and grandma. I almost feel like they are emotionally abusing this girl, and it is very upsetting to me to see this every afternoon after class. As I helped Lyd dress, I pondered Posh Mom’s words: “She has to learn sometime.” Yes, Posh Mom, she does, but that doesn’t mean she has to learn it like this. There are other methods for learning to like water that don’t include dousing her in it whether she likes it or not. That’s like being told to learn to like snakes by being thrown into a snakepit, in my humble opinion.
Today I registered Baby J and myself for the very same Aqua Tots class that this little girl is currently in. Our two-week session begins next Monday; will this little girl be forced to endure another 8 episodes of forced time in the pool and forced showers? I don’t know. And if she is, will I be brave enough to reach out to them in love and attempt to forge a friendship WITHOUT being judgemental? Or will I simply realize that I can’t solve the all world’s problems, put my energies into raising my own girls as compassionately and lovingly as I can, and hope that my example rubs off on some other parents? (not that I’m perfect, but hopefully you know what I mean…)
I honestly don’t know which is the better answer, but I hope I can find a happy medium between the two.
(I want to add this: It wasn’t long, not even a full minute, after the girls and I got into the changing area that Posh Mother arrived with her little, shivering, drenched daughter in tow. I think the shower idea was scrapped. Was this due to my words? I don’t know. But it seems the little girl was granted a short shower today. I am glad, for her sake.)