What is Happening?

A little boy, one we don’t know, swam over to Riley as she was sitting on the edge of the pool, tentatively easing her way into the water. He was about ten. As he approached her he asked, with a glint of mean in his eye, “Do you want to have a water fight?”

She replied sweetly, “No thank you,” and as she said it I noted him drawing his hand back ready to just knock her flat with a big wave. At long last she finally took her feet off the bottom of the pool this week. Something like this could really set her back. I stood up behind her and gave him “the look” which made him instantly back off and slink away. Seriously, you do not want to be on the receiving end of my “look.” It’ll blow your hair back. Riley missed the whole exchange.

A chubby little girl we’d never met before, we’ll call her Emmie, she wanted to hang out with us. There is always one. A lonely neglected clinger-on. She hinted about how hungry she was and how badly she wanted something from the concession stand. My kids are secondary to kids like this. What they want is attention from me. They are starving for it.

Seth jumped in and immediately joined a dozen kids playing Marco polo. Easy, peasy.

Riley was mad when treading water didn’t come easily. Just because she does something once, doesn’t mean she can do it the next time. But she did eventually get those feet off the bottom of the pool again. And she put her head under water a few times, without plugging her nose. This is a huge victory. I spent a lot of time gliding her through the water, helping her get the feeling of swimming. Another boy about ten years old swam up to us and asked incredulously,

“Can’t she swim?”

I told him, “She’s learning. She’s getting there,” and then moved away from him as quickly as I could, hoping Riley wouldn’t ask to get out of the pool due to embarrassment. Thankfully, she didn’t.

I watched as the mean boy who had first approached Riley slinked up to a kid who was resting, hanging on the edge of the pool. For no reason, he full on body slammed him from behind. When the kid turned around to confront him the mean boy immediately said, “Ooops! Are you okay?” His feigning of concern disarmed the other boy and he let it go. Total manipulation. No parents in sight for either of them.

Another boy about twelve was in charge of three toddlers. And I have to say he was doing an awesome job. He took each one into the pool while the other two sat in a chair. He glided them through the water like I did my girl. They really trusted him. He fed them lunch, and then at one point commanded them to stay in the chair, while he jumped in the water and spent a brief moment of play with his friends. Where was his mother? Whose babies were these? Why was this boy thrust into this role?

There were at least three other kids with autism there, at that hour, that day. Any pool America. And those are just the ones that were easily detectable. Toe walking, hand flapping, etc.

A little girl, about five walked in front of my chair as I was packing up to leave. My kids stood shivering in towels, ready to go. This little girl had the braids Riley has coveted since we moved to our very diverse neighborhood. She had the whole head bob going on, lots of sass, and as she passed in front of me she said to her friend, in a voice that was obviously picked up from a much older relative,

“Girl, what is happening in this world?” She shook her head solemnly which was adorable for a five year old and said again,

“What is happening?”

Thinking about the events of the day, my eyes came to rest on a little boy standing in the pool shaking his head back and forth, back and forth, stim, stim, stimming.

I have to admit, I was wondering the same thing.

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5 Responses to What is Happening?

  1. Kerry says:

    Hey, Grace and I are reading “otherwise known as sheild the great” by judy blume. This wasn’t one that stuck with me as one of my favorite Judy Blume’s (I was obsessed), but it might be a good one for y’all to read this summer. Sheila is ten and is kind of timid about a number of things, and one of them is swimming. We just got through the part where she takes her feet off the bottom of the pool for the first time. :) We’re only 1/2 way through, so I can’t say what happens later, but so far, she’s dealt with a lot and worked her way though it.

  2. Hi Kerry,

    We know all about Sheila. LOL. I read it as a kid and we read it a couple of years ago, and then again last year. I think it did give Riley comfort that someone else was as afraid as she was.

    Love that book.

  3. amber says:

    I swear, I always end up leaving public pools wondering wth is up with too many parents. I remember years ago, when Wyatt was only three and I think I was still pregs with G, and Wyatt watched this mom abuse her little boy for being fearful of water. He said something to her, like,’ he couldn’t help it’, and she wa so pissed she left. It was sad.( But I was proud of his little heart)

    ;)

    :)

  4. Dee Ready says:

    Dear Michelle, you’ve presented a world here. The world of the summer swimming pool with complete cast. Thank you. Peace.