Sometimes I need to take a deep breath and regain my composure before blogging.  Something happened yesterday that left me unable to take a deep breath or regain my composure.  I thought that I would be more composed today but that is not the case.  I am more upset.  I was looking up synonyms for the word, “irate” and had to lean on my thesaurus for help.

Irate
Synonyms: Angered, annoyed, blown a gasket, enraged, exasperated, fuming, furious, incensed, indignant, infuriated, irritated, livid, mad, piqued, provoked, riled, steamed, ticked off, up in arms, worked up.

Does that describe it?  No, but its a good start.

Yesterday as I was in the shower, the girls were overheard talking about the upcoming visit with their dad.  My five year old said, “I with that we could still see (professional supervisor’s name here)”.  “I know.  Dad says that he makes good decisions (now) but he doesn’t”, replied my 7-year old daughter.  I can’t speak word-for-word about what was said because I wasn’t there.  This conversation was relayed to me but that was the general dialog.  I know that my five year old has been trying to process things related to her father and visits.  I give her the space to do that and supply her with the tools to work through her feelings in counseling and in general communication.

We dropped the girls off with their dad from 11am to 5pm and upon pick up, I noticed that my youngest daughter had  been crying.  This was the ensuing dialog between my X and I:

Me: “What happened?”

X: “Well, the girls were pushing boundaries in the pool and went under water for a short period of time”

My immediate thoughts: remain calm and composed.  Do not over react.  Listen to the entire story before you open your mouth.

My 7 year old then chimes in and states: “(My sister) went under water.  I tried to save her and hold her above the water but then her head was higher than mine and I swallowed water also”.

X: “They were pushing boundaries- it was scary and they learned a lesson from it.  They are both fine”.

I got the girls into the car.  I wanted out of there badly.  A million thoughts going through my head but I remained calm and didn’t want to react until I knew more.  We drove home and over the next few hours, I heard the entire story.  Basically, it was my worst nightmare unfolding in front of me.  My daughters have never had swimming lessons.  They were in a pool without an adult in the water.  NO life jackets on.  My youngest daughter slipped off of her swimming noodle and she was trying to doggie paddle to the edge.  She inhaled two gulps of water before my 7-year old saw her struggling and jumped off her own noodle to save her.  She explained that she was trying to hold her sister out of the water so that she could breathe but in turn, she went under several times.  She said they tried to get their dad’s attention but he was lying out sun tanning wasn’t paying attention.  He finally realized what happened and jumped into the pool to rescue them.   My five year old is amendment that she swallowed five huge gulps of water.  “I counted them, momma” she said.

The girls brought up the incident throughout the night and several times this morning.  Last night at bedtime, my oldest daughter asked if she could write in her journal.  I am incredibly thankful that her teacher at school advocates daily journaling as I think this practice is invaluable.  This morning, she asked if she could share her journal with me on our drive to church.  This is a snippet of what she wrote:

“Today was a scary day for me and my sister.  It happened at my dad’s house.  When me and my sister were playing in the pool and we didn’t know how to swim and (my sister) fell off her floatie and almost drowned.  I tried to save her then I fell off my floatie but was holding (sister) up higher than me.  We drank chlorine water.  I think either my dad was not watching, he was not paying attention or he was sleeping.  But after about 12 seconds dad jumped in and got us out of the pool.  After that dad took us inside and we had cinamin raison bread, milk and chips and salsa”. 

My feelings as a protective Mother Bear are hard to describe even with a thesaurus in hand.  There is no excuse for what happened in his care yesterday.

I looked up drowning facts and prevention on a government website:

  • How long does is take for a child to drown? A child can drown in only a couple of minutes. It is important to always stay with your child around any type of water (pool, spa, ocean, lake). A child should never be left ALONE near any type of water – EVEN FOR “JUST A MINUTE.”
  • Every day, about ten people die from unintentional drowning. Of these, two are children aged 14 or younger. Drowning is the second leading cause of death for children ages 1 to 14 years.
  • How is drowning prevented:  Supervision when in or around the water. Designate a responsible adult to watch young children while in the bath and all children swimming or playing in or around water. Supervisors of preschool children should provide “touch supervision”, be close enough to reach the child at all times.  Adults should not be involved in any other distracting activity (such as reading, playing cards, talking on the phone, or mowing the lawn) while supervising children.

A responsible adult.   What a concept.  THIS is the person that the California Family Court System deems as “responsible enough” to care for my daughters without supervision.

Will it take one of my daughters DYING or being seriously injured for the court to say, “Okay, maybe he isn’t responsible enough”?  My seven year old daughter had to try and save her sister yesterday.  A seven year old was more responsible that a 38-year old man who was more concerned with his tan than watching his daughters.  The court-appointed supervisor previously notated on her reports that he doesn’t interact with the children on his visits.  She was right—not even when two little girls are in a body of water and could have lost their lives.

Sometimes I turn to my friends for the words I can’t seem to find.  My friend described it best today: “I think that we (as mothers) get punished for being too vigilant.  He (X) is too hell bent on having no restrictions and rules that he is ignorant of how inept he is as a father“.

One hour ago, I had to drop them off in his care again. My daughters asked me to talk to their dad prior and let him know that they don’t want to go back in the pool.  He agreed that they would stay inside today.  Irate can’t describe my feelings nor can any word that I can find in a thesaurus.

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