Today I went to the pool instead of doing the hundred things on my neatly written to do list (read sloppily scrawled list on the back of an empty opened envelope that was promptly lost immediately after writing). After all, it is summer, and I spend 10 months working at least 12 months worth of hard so I can have two months off to read by the pool.
Today is no different than any other day at my apartment complex pool - the pool is full of children, at most one of whom can swim. They are all clad in swimmies and floaties and noodles and such so that their parents can feel safe enough to ignore them for the rest of the time at the pool.
Enter rant phase.
Perhaps I do not yet understand because I do not have children of my own. Perhaps spending endless hours with young children makes one crave adult attention/conversation so much that ignoring those very children at any opportunity to interact with another adult becomes necessary. As I said, I'm not there yet, so I can only try to understand as an outsider looking in.
So today's case of "I had kids so that I could ignore them" went like this:
Enter two moms each with two boys. And two water guns. And four inflatable rings to put the kids in. And two coolers full of sugary snacks. After much insisting from the moms that all four boys put on their "floatie" rings to stay safe, the kids are allowed in the pool. The three older boys swim off happily, with two water guns to fight over between them.
The moms cling together as if this may be their last opportunity for adult conversation. ever. They talk about their husbands being deployed. They talk about working out at the gym, and about the steam room. and the steam room. and the steam room. If that woman said one more thing about how great they were, I would have thrown my book at her.
Boy gets out of pool and asks mom for towel. She waves her hand in the direction of the table with all their junk, but continues her conversation with other mom. Other boy keeps shouting across pool while looking at his mom "why can't I go anywhere??" I want so badly to tell him because that stupid "floatie" is getting in the way of your arms moving and if only your mom had taken the time to teach you to swim, you could be zipping around this pool. But I think better of it, and quietly pretend to keep reading my book.
I grow tired of my people watching, and roll over for a nap. I wake up to one of the boys putting his towel on the lounge chair next to mine, bumping in to me repeatedly. I silently groan, sit back up, and go back to reading my book. Boys are bored - never a great combination. So out of boredom comes this new game - shoot all the ants with the water gun. This apparently included ants that were crawling under my backpack, ants near my book, oh and there must have been ants on me. Not really frustrated with the kids, as they are just using their creativity to try to enjoy their day - I shoot some angry glances towards the moms in regard to all of my stuff getting soaked. Oh wait, they weren't even looking. Having no clue that their children were going around the pool soaking everything and everyone with their water guns, the moms were discussing the college perks that the military provides.
I dry off my stuff, and go back to reading my book. I hear the boys attempt to get the moms attention again - and again, no response from them. Fast forward to all the girls in the pool screaming, because the boys have now taken to stealing all of their toys. Sigh. Perhaps if the moms had engaged the boys in some sort of game, or, I know this is crazy, but spent the time in the pool teaching them how to swim perhaps they wouldn't have been such terrors.
The part that made me cringe the most today is when mom 1 asked mom 2 if the smallest boy was sleeping through the night. When mom 2 said no, mom 1's advice was "you know, tylenol every night will cure that problem". Really? This is the motherly advice they were sharing at the expense of interacting with their children? It makes me shudder even more to think that these boys' fathers are fighting hard and sacrificing time away from them, and are probably wishing more than anything that they were able to throw a ball with these boys or play a game with them, and here are two moms that have that opportunity, and are choosing to ignore it.
I see this in the grocery store, I see it at the pool, I see it at work. I see it every.day.
So my question to the world is...why have children if you have no desire to truly interact with them - to not just be in the background of their childhood, but to shape their childhood?
I'm frustrated because I know of people who want so badly to have those moments with a child - to read them bedtime stories, teach them to swim, let them help with the grocery shopping (even though they know it will take longer), but they can't have children. And then I see on a daily basis those people who put about as much energy into raising a child as it would have taken to avoid having one in the first place.