Troubled Waters

Well they all came back alive, in one piece, and slightly damp. As Little Bear started up with a rant about being scared in the water, my husband cut him off and told me that “He’s going to tell you he almost drowned, but he didn’t. I was right there.”

What? Now mind you I’m trying really hard not to look at my dad, to not even feel his presence at all, as I kept my cool. I don’t like how he wouldn’t let our son speak for himself. I don’t like how the other two boys are oddly quiet about this.

So my husband tells me he took them to the river to play.

My response: “None of them know how to swim.”

He said he knew that but he was right there, but then Little Bear got too far out and freaked out. I shut down. Avoidant behavior completely kicked in. I’m surprised my father didn’t say something. Maybe he left the room. I don’t know. All I know is I kept telling myself in my head that I am not a helicopter parent as I kept listening to my husband tell me that nothing happened. But he wasn’t listening to himself. And he wasn’t listening to Little Bear. Something did happen. Little Bear was genuinely afraid that he was drowning. That isn’t nothing.

I don’t even know how to address this. None of these boys know how to swim. You don’t have certification in CPR, a first responders license, or even a trained life guard but you thought it was a perfectly good idea to take them to a large moving body of water to play in? The last time I got life guard training of any kind was back when we lived in Alaska as part of our PE class. I was in the 2nd and 3rd grade at the time and you don’t see me taking these boys out to the pond at my parents’ place. And no, I wouldn’t be taking them to a river either. The only time the oldest two get to go to a beach is during the public school field trips where they have trained personnel available. Not. Me.

Currents and under currents have a way of sweeping a child off in a blink of an eye. In fact it is because of a river current that I am still here today. We were camping up in the mountains of Alaska. My sister and I were playing by the river. A tea cup fell in and I jumped in after it. I was 8 years old at the time and I was a good swimmer. I really believed I could get that cup with no trouble at all. Well, it was all I could do to keep my head above the water and who knows where the cup went. In the end I got lucky. The current was such that it pushed me up against the bank and I grabbed onto the tree roots that were exposed and I pulled myself out. My parents were just running up in a panic (my sister ran to get them when I jumped in) as I was making my way back to camp shivering. If the current had gone a different direction that would have been it. I would have been gone. It happened that fast. And now we’re talking about a 6 year old boy that doesn’t know how to swim. A 6 year old boy that doesn’t listen and likes to take off on his own.

I swear to God I’m not a helicopter parent, but I’m not a free range parent either. I believe there needs to be a balance between the two. Know your kids, trust your kids where appropriate, but use some common sense.

The implications of this close call really weighs on me. The argument “nothing happened” doesn’t sit well with me. And he’s not fine either. Come bed time Little Bear stalled quite a bit complaining how he didn’t feel well since almost drowning. He also complained how the air conditioner sounded like water and it was freaking him out. I’m not willing to jump the gun and cry trauma here. Little Bear has tried to capitalized on a variety of things in the past claiming that they were scary just to get out of bedtime. However, he didn’t appear happy when he got home today when he was trying to tell his story. He looked distressed when he got cut off. This isn’t something that came out of left field like the other things in the past. So this is something that I need to keep an eye on.

All in all I don’t know what to do with this. I don’t. It’s not right what my husband did. Maybe I need to call my therapist and touch base with her about it. I don’t know. I want to keep the peace for the boys’ sake but damn this is just reckless. This is the very sort of intrusive thoughts that have been plaguing my mind for the last two months before his visit. It’s the kind of shit that keeps me awake at night. The fucking “what if” scenarios that just run over everything else you try to think about instead. It makes me ill. He claims that he thinks about the boys all the time but then does shit like this. How am I supposed to trust him to take the boys out and about when he does stuff like this? At what point am I supposed to draw the line and say enough is enough? What legal boundaries do I have, if any? So much to deal with and never enough answers to go on.

I’m supposed to be working on the portfolio with my oldest son in the morning at our place. Just the two of us. Maybe I can ask him what really happened. Assuming that he will talk about it. I don’t want him to feel like he is outing his stepfather, but at the same time I can’t have this man taking unnecessary risks like that with these boys either.

2 thoughts on “Troubled Waters

  1. The problem here is that both of them are well known for telling stories that have varied amounts of truth… Getting the oldest in the mix has pros and cons to it. I don’t think it is a bad idea to talk to your therapist about this. It can give you an unbiased, outside perspective. I really don’t think [your husband] intended any harm. So, maybe some pre-planning before outings? I dunno, this is a tough one!

    • Sorry I edited out his real name – seriously need to come up with working nicknames for everyone. Trying really hard to keep everyone anonymous here.

      But you’re right. We’ve got two people here that will take a grain of truth to spin a story. But that isn’t really so much my concern here because really these two are telling the same story: Little Bear got in trouble in the water and panicked. Daddy rescued him. I get that. But this is the basic run down of what I heard yesterday that has me concerned:

      Daddy saying, “You didn’t drown because I saved you so everything is fine. Nothing happened.”

      Little Bear is saying, “I’m still really upset and scared because I almost drowned.”

      What’s bothering me here is there is no apology, no remorse, no apparent insight as to what could have happened – and most importantly his insistence on dismissing how Little Bear felt about all this like it’s no big deal.

      I know he didn’t intend harm. I’m not accusing him of that. That old saying “the road to hell is paved with good intentions” comes to mind. I don’t know how else to explain this.

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