In an attempt to squeeze one more drop out of summer, Tom and I tool Olivia swimming yesterday.
Alyssa didn’t want to go because “reasons” and so Olivia got both parents to herself. She was thrilled by this prospect and wasn’t sure who to drag into the water first.
She got around that one by telling us that we were all three going into the water. She’s just lucky that was already the plan.
We swam, we frolicked, Olivia jumped off the square of foam Tom takes to the lake with us, climbed back up and jumped again.
Finally, she was ready to just swim around with me for a bit. She and I swam maybe five feet from where Tom was now lying on the raft thing when a girl, maybe eleven years old, came up and asked me if she play on our raft with us.
I told her that Olivia was pretty shy and she wanted to just swim with me instead. Then I nodded toward Tom and said, “And now that he’s on it, he’s going to be hard to get off of it.”
The girl then asked if she could flip it over and knock him off.
Huh…okay then. I just replied with, “Like I said, he’s pretty hard to knock off.”
She apparently took that as a challenge because the next thing I knew, she was diving under the raft and springing up from underneath, dethroning the king of the raft.
She did this probably four times when two little boys, maybe seven and five came up to Tom. The older of the two boys asked, “May my brother and I play with you guys?”
Tom looked to me and I shrugged. The littler of the two boys said to his brother, “Austin, Mom wants you.”
The boys wandered off toward their mom and Tom looked relieved. The girl was still attempting to dunk him at every turn. Olivia tried to pull me away from the raft, you know, since it had become a magnet for strange kids.
I asked Tom, “You want me to stick close to you so that you don’t come across as the strange dude who was luring kids to play with him and his raft?”
He nodded gratefully.
A little while later, Austin returned sans little brother. He announced, “My mom said I could play with you.”
Okay then. At that point, the girl had abandoned her job of flipping Tom off the raft and her brother had replaced her, though he just wanted to jump off the raft, not dunk Tom.
So there he was, holding the rope to our raft while two strange kids climbed and jumped and climbed up to jump again.
At one point, I was nearby with Olivia when Austin called out to me, “Hey, watch! Watch me.”
I rolled my eyes. Oh yes, yes I did roll my eyes at this seven year old. Then I said to Tom, “I don’t hear that enough from my own kids, now I have to hear it from other people’s kids?”
Tom smiled in empathy.
After he emerged from the water, Austin turned to me and asked, “Did you see me?”
Are you kidding me? I mean, seriously! I have never met this kid before in my life. His mother didn’t bother to come over and make sure it was okay if he was risking his neck diving off our raft into three feet of water and he’s calling out to me, a stranger, “Watch me!”
Give me a break. I get it. I know there are kids who are awesomely outgoing and who love people. I get that my kids are probably freaks because of their shyness and their introverted natures but come on!!
I believe I mentioned before that I almost became a teacher. I changed my major in October of my fifth year of college because I realized that I didn’t like other people’s kids nearly enough to spend eight hours a day with them for the better part of a year.
I like other people’s kids when those kids come to my house to play with my kids. I like other people’s kids when I got to the school three times a year and help put on holiday parties for them. And if I know you and your kids? I like your kids. Your kids are awesome and beautiful and amazing.
But I do not like other people’s kids who invite themselves to play with our stuff while out in public and I’ve never met these kids or their parents. I just don’t. There it is.
I can appreciate that outgoing kids get far in this world. I mean, you don’t get anywhere if you aren’t willing to risk someone telling you no. I get that. And yet…boundaries are a good thing. Boundaries are lovely. Boundaries help keep this over-worked mom from having to hear, “Watch me!” from anyone who isn’t one of my own two beautiful, wonderful, charming children who actually have a right to say that to me.