Beautiful morning for a swim at the community pool.
The pools rather empty but the sun is out and the water is glistening. No line at the diving boards and our pick of seats in the shade. We don’t have much time but we walk over to get some exercise in before the rest of the day gets busy.
Will heads over to the diving board and Abbey goes straight to the lap lane. Both do their thing with a smile. I have my book. We are all in our happy place.
“Adults only in the lap lane!”
I hear someone calling out to Abbey.
Again, the voice.
“Adults only in the lap lane!”
I see a woman swimming adjacent to the lap lane, calling out to Abbey, warning her to get out.
Abbey finishes the lap, swims to the edge, gets out and sits down next to me.
“Mom, I’m pretty sure it’s ok for me to swim there. It’s just for laps.”
I tell her to just do something else, the lady seems irritated and just leave her be. Let’s get back to our relax mode, we don’t have much time. She heads to the diving board, swims a bit and comes back.
“Mom, I’m pretty sure it’s ok for me to swim there. I want to swim laps.”
Again, I encourage her to find somewhere else, but she insists. Finally I say, “Go to pool office and ask the staff.”
She is happy to do this. I watch her walk tall to the office area and ask a lifeguard. She comes back and says, “Yep, it’s ok for me to swim there. Anyone can, they just have to swim laps.”
The lady is floating in the pool, watching Abbey and calls out to her- “What did they say?”
Abbey tells her.
Clearly, this is not the answer the lady was hoping for or believed was true. She swims over to the lifeguard stand. She asks two lifeguards and I hear them tell her. “It’s for anyone.”
“Hmmmmmpf.” She ain’t having this.
Both kids are sitting on the lounge chair now and I tell Abbey, JUST GO DO SOMETHING ELSE. Let it go, let it go, let it go…..
So, she does.
She and Will go to concessions and get a few packs of their beloved sour patch kids. While they are gone, the woman flags down another staff member- I guess this guy looks like a more important lifeguard. “Lap lane is for anyone,’ he says.
“But I thought! I thought it was just for adults!” She is stuck. SHE cannot let it go. Abbey hasn’t gone back in since that first lap and the woman is just relentless.
She calls out to other adults in the pool, points at us. We can hear her talking about “that little girl” and her finger is directed our way. They shrug. Maybe her friends agree, maybe they don’t. They listen to her and let it go.
Kids are back with their treats. Abbey is sucking on the candy and says, “Mom, I really want to swim laps. I’m going to go back in. I am not breaking any rules.”
I am freaking out inside. Complete panic. Why can’t she be more like me? Side step this, go do something else, play in another area, ignore the lady. Don’t make things worse, just do what she wants. Be a compliant kid.
AVOID AVOID AVOID
I text Drew.
He replies, “Don’t let Abbey get bullied. She can swim if she wants. Don’t give in to obnoxious.”
NO! Wrong answer, I think. That’s not what I wanted to hear. But he’s right and I know it. Why do I insist Abbey just avoid this? She has been quiet, polite and extremely respectful. All she wants to do is swim laps and there is no reason she shouldn’t.
“Ok, I say. Go ahead.”
But me, I am a coward.
I head to the bathroom as Abbey gets back into the lane to swim. I can’t watch. I don’t want to. I won’t. Then a minute later I am out again. I see Abbey swimming a rather beautiful breaststroke in the empty lane. I see the woman at the office, pointing and ranting. She is so angry that Abbey is swimming there. The lifeguards listen and tell her the same thing they’ve told her so many times.
She goes back to her chair and begins to dress. She is talking to people as she goes, dragging more people in, commenting about Abbey, kids and such. Belongings in hand, heading to the gate, she calls aside one more person swimming laps in another area to tell them too-
“But I thought!” “Adults only!” Grump, grump, grump.
Then, she’s gone.
That was it. Our little encounter with a big bully. I wanted to turn and go, hide and wait, but my daughter said NO.
She handled it with determination, respect and grace. She didn’t let the bully control her.
As she sits next to me and we decompress (more adrenaline than you would think for such a silly thing!) I am proud of her. I tell her she did good. She did the right thing.
Middle school is here and I’m feeling better about this kid every day.
And boy, do I have a lot to learn from her.