Saturday, September 3, 2011

Shore Thing

My friend Karen and I took our kids to the beach. Let me tell you, going to the beach with the kids is NOT what I would call a relaxing day. When I was younger, I'm pretty sure my mom ignored me and let me wander off to do my own thing. Now we are considered irresponsible if we don't stand over them.

Anyway, to our dismay there was a playground at the beach. At first one would think "What is the big deal about a playground at the beach? It sounds like fun." Normally I would think so too, except instead of having the beach experience of playing in the sand and going in the ocean, all the kids wanted to do was go down the slide. It was annoying because we have a slide in the backyard. Why did we travel 60 miles to do this? Karen and I wanted to sit in our beach chairs and chat while the kids played in the sand right in front of us. We didn't want to use up energy walking over to the playground and disciplining other people's kids.

Between the two of us, Karen and I have four kids, all girls. Their ages are: 6 on the cusp of 7, newly 6, 5 and 4 years old. Karen is a whore, she got pregnant when her daughter was only 3 months old. Three months after giving birth, I couldn't even think about sex. Honestly, 1 year after giving birth, I wasn't in the mood either. But I digress.

Since the kids wanted to hang out at the playground, we decided to plant our beach chairs there and keep an eye on them. For the most part, both of our kids are pretty much well behaved. They seemed to be a bit revved up at the playground though. I was a bit ashamed of the way my daughter was acting, but I was at the beach. I was lazy, trying to enjoy my day with Karen and I just wanted to sit. I was not in the mood for disciplining so I just let things slide. Normally I would have been Nazi-mom. A little while later, a man who had been pushing his daughter on a swing approached us. He asked (to both of us) "Do those girls belong to you?" I was kind of afraid to answer because I didn't know if he was asking because he wanted to scold us for having obnoxious kids. I owned up and said "Yes" though in my head I was saying sarcastically "No, I'm a pedophile scouting my next recruit." While preparing myself to be criticized on my parenting skills, the guy said to us, "I would like to take a dip in the ocean, would you mind keeping an eye on my daughter?"

HUH???? He wants me, "Stacey, I can't stand other people's children" to watch his kid? Brave soul. Maybe he thought Karen had a sweet disposition, which she does. But birds of a feather.....just sayin'. I know a lot of people don't write messages on my blog, but I would like to know from any of you out there: Would you leave your kid with a stranger? EVER?!? The man said "I need to get used to the water and then want to ride some waves, so I will be back in a half hour." I didn't see a watch on his wrist (and knowing that the lifeguards were not allowing people in the ocean beyond knee deep) so I answered that he needs to be back in 15 minutes. The guy sulked and said fine. But after he left, I had a paranoid feeling. What if he doesn't come back? Will it be like a Lifetime movie...daughter deserted at the beach and strangers take her home. I don't want another kid!!! But I wouldn't have the heart to turn her over to a foster parent. Then I thought, well, what if I want to leave and he's not back from his romp in the ocean? Would it be negligent of me to leave her? What's he going to do? Report to the police that he left his kid with a stranger and now she's gone?

He introduced his daughter to us and told her that we are going to watch her. He also instructed her that if she has a problem to come to us. I think the latter was going a bit too far. When my own kids tattle or whine my response is usually "I don't care." I can't imagine how I would react when a stranger does it to me. Then I thought, well do I have carte blanche in disciplining this kid while she's under my watch? Can I just stick her in time out until her father gets back? What concerned me even more is that we spend so much time and effort explaining Stranger Danger to our kids. Don't go in a car with a stranger! If a stranger comes up to you and asks you to help find their lost dog, run away! Even if they know you're name. Bad people don't always look like monsters, they can be good looking too. Now this guy is probably confusing the shit out of this girl by making her stay with a stranger.

Fortunately, a few minutes later the father returned. As I knew they would, the lifeguards did not allow him to swim due to the rough waters so he came back. Whew! My paranoid thoughts of him abandoning this girl was dismissed. I gave Karen a look like "thank God" and she breathed a sigh of relief that I didn't give the guy a lesson on what happens when you ask a stranger to watch your kid.