I will admit it. I am a very protective parent. Cautious, I’d like to say. My children are not allowed to play outside by themselves. I need to know their friend’s parents if they are going somewhere to play. They don’t take the bus to school; I drive them.
Yesterday, B and A made a very bad decision. Something that goes against all precautions I’ve ever taught them. They jumped into the neighbor’s pool without an adult present. Threw all sense of caution to the wind and just jumped in. This may not be that much of a surprise to some. A pool next door is a huge temptation. It has been since it was installed last summer. But, there is a fence around it. There are rules that have been established at our house about pools and that one in particular. But, yesterday, no one seemed to remember that.
We were doing some early fall cleaning of the garage. T and I were cleaning and the kids were playing with us out front. The neighbors, one year younger than B and A, came out also and they were playing in a small group. They asked if they could have an ice cream sandwich and we said yes. So, they went right next door to the garage to eat this. Honest to God, this is the first time I did not follow them over there to sit by the garage and monitor them doing this simple task. This summer, a lot of their friends have gotten more freedoms than B and A are allowed. Some of their friends can ride their bikes around the neighborhood without their parents. They run back and forth to each other’s houses. I don’t want to be overprotective, but I think 7 is a bit young for all of that freedom. So, this was their chance. I gave it to them. I did not walk over. I kept cleaning and watching R.
There is a back door in that garage that leads to the fenced in pool area. This point I did not think about. They did. They took it. Out they went into the fenced in pool area of the back yard. One thing led to another and someone threw A’s shoe into the pool. Her gallant, ridiculous brother jumped into the pool after it. At this point, they do not realize that an adult is anywhere around. It turns out that my neighbor was back there with them, but outside the fence area watching them and doing yard work. The neighbor kids jumped in after B. A jumped in after all the rest did it. Into a pool, without an adult present (to their knowledge).
Now, T and I realized that it had gotten a little quiet in the garage 50 feet away from us. So, we started calling out to them. No answer. They were supposed to have eaten the ice cream and headed back home. T leaves to go check it out. He was the one that discovered their little pool party in the backyard. So, two minutes later, he is walking around the house with 2 drenched rats, still in their clothes by the way. My stomach immediately sunk. I knew it involved the pool. They never even came around to ask. They knew we would have said no. So, they just did it. Just like that without abandon, jumped in. All precautions about the pool that I have preached to them over the years forgotten. Just jumped.
B and A are OK swimmers for 7. I’d give them a 50/50 shot at being able to get themselves over to the side of a pool if they got in over their heads. They have no business in a pool unattended. I don’t even let them in a baby pool unattended. This goes against their personalities. I honestly did not even think they would have it in them to blatantly go against us like that. Turns out, I was wrong. Thank God everyone was OK. But, I couldn’t shake that terrible feeling all day. The what if, the Oh My God feeling that gets you in your gut. My worst nightmare could have come true.
B and A got the reprimand of their lives. I have never heard T yell like that. We are not yellers. We have always been able to just talk to B and A. They are those kinds of kids. They usually listen. Yesterday, we yelled. Loudly. I think those neighbors probably could hear us. I really don’t care.
You do your best each day to love and protect them with all that you are. Then, with the complete abandon of youth, they do something like this. It makes me wonder if we’ll make it. The biggest challenges are yet to come. The biggest obstacles in raising them. Will T and I survive as they continue to learn how to exist outside of us? Outside of our household? Without our constant supervision? A big part of this job is to teach them how to do just that. God, give me strength and wisdom. And please, continue to watch out for them.