By Sarah Miner
We’ve been enjoying the long days and warm nights at a local pool. The kids swim after dinner and we all head home, tired and happy. This most recent evening at the pool, however, was a bit disturbing.
Our 8 year old daughter was playing ball with some other kids in the water when a man and woman (they seemed to be a couple) we met the previous night joined the game. It was getting late, so the other children left the pool, leaving my daughter to continue the game with these adults. I was sitting poolside, watching my younger daughter learn to swim with my husband while keeping an eye on my older daughter.
The adults and my daughter formed a large triangle and were tossing a beach ball back and forth. Not a problem and pretty harmless, I thought. Then, when my child next caught the ball, the man tackled her from behind, wrapping his arms around her body and submerging her under him until she squirmed away and came to the surface.
We gathered our children and towels and left the pool immediately, and I explained to my husband shortly thereafter what had happened as he hadn’t seen any of it. He asked her how that experience made her feel, and she said it surprised her, but she had this uncertain look on her face. The next day, I had a private conversation with her, explaining that the man should not have grabbed her and forced her under him, under water.
It was a terrible conversation, not just because of the facts of the experience, but also because I had to explain to my sweet, trusting child that not all grownups are good. Some adults aren’t trustworthy. Some adults touch children in bad ways, crossing the line between fun and harm, like this man did. And that none of this was her fault.