On minding your own business

or, a lifeguard is not a babysitter.

This morning I went to Northwest Pool to do some laps. It was lovely. While there, I witnessed a couple with a newborn attempting to live a normal, newborn-free life by plopping their baby in his carseat at the side of the pool while they did laps right next to him.

Hm, curious, I thought. I would not have made that choice. Perhaps they could have taken turns doing laps while the other parent hung out with baby. Or maybe hired a babysitter to sit with Junior for 30-45 minutes while both parents did laps. But, you know, whatever. The baby was being watched … sort of.

Well, the pool manager WIGGED OUT. He yanked Mom out of the pool and proceeded to give her a very loud, very public dressing down for leaving her baby unattended. “What if he vomits?! He can’t turn over! You can’t just leave him unattended! I don’t care if you’re right here! You’re distracted!” Meanwhile, an otherwise unoccupied lifeguard had taken it upon himself to sit with the baby while his parents were otherwise occupied.

Yes, a spectacularly poor choice, even though the baby wasn’t in any imminent danger (apart from the possibility of being stung by bees — there are a lot of them at that pool). What I find really interesting is that despite the fact that both parents were present and equally culpable, the pool manager chose to tear Mom a new asshole. In public. When Dad could be arsed to finish his lap, he got out of the pool and had what appeared to be a long, civil discussion with the pool manager.

I know it’s tempting to want to take shortcuts, especially as new parents who want to regain some semblance of normalcy. It’s a hard lesson to learn when the Public comes crashing down with its censure, loudly and in such overtly gendered terms.

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1 Comment

  1. Good post. It sounds like the pool manager behaved unprofessionally, which is unacceptable. OTOH, managing a public swimming pool is one job where empathy often needs to take a back seat to immediate safety. He shouldn’t have shamed and singled out mom for both parents making a bad (and probably sleep-deprived) choice, but imagine what happens to him if something happens to that baby on his watch. Hard lesson all around.


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