Wednesday, June 25, 2008


Lizzy had one of those experiences at the pool last weekend that's kinda tough for a parent to watch.

But before that, we had her first swim lesson! Pretty basic stuff, though the instructors did a great job leading their pods of little kids around the (very) shallow area, getting them to have fun while they learned/practiced some basic blowing bubbles into the water, kicking, pulling themselves through the water with their arms, etc.
Much to Lizzy's disappointment, other kids awaited their lessons after hers ended, and we couldn't do any sort of open swim right away. So we went home.

Lizzy had made a little list that she put in a special little notebook holder of the things she wanted to get accomplished that day. Things like "take a walk, play with friends, get ice cream, go to petting store." (we like to go and watch the doggies who are there for doggy day care. Hey, it's free entertainment. Except for the Dairy Queen nearby.)

After she'd added, and crossed off, "Have lunch," we headed back to the pool. Matt stayed home this time and did manly things around the house. I was happy to sit indoors, on a bench, and glance at the library book I'd brought from time to time -- Lizzy was pretty happy to swim and play on her own, as long as Mommy was paying attention now and then.

So she scampered and paddled about happily for a little less than an hour. This pool ousts the kids for 10 minutes every hour (the explanation I heard was so that they'd be more likely to use the bathroom, and keep their "P" out of the "ool,", but it's a pain), so we decided that when the whistle blew, we'd leave. I noticed a few minutes before that, that Lizzy had appeared to make a couple of friends.

When the whistle did blow, she came up to me, looking a little mad and upset, and told me that those girls, whom I had thought were playing with her in a friendly fashion, had been calling her a "baby" and saying she must be "one year old." Interestingly, the girls didn't appear to be any older than her. Lizzy said they'd cut in line when she was at the top of the kiddie waterslide -- Lizzy likes to carefully look over the edge to make sure she's not going to slide down into anyone, and I suppose one of the girls chose that opportunity to go past her -- so Lizzy made sure they heard about it as soon as all were at the bottom. Sounds like the girls didn't much care to be told off in that way, and followed her around and made fun of her and wouldn't leave her alone until the whistle blew and everyone had to get out.

I told Lizzy that she should tell me when someone's bothering her like that. That I was sorry they had been that way, but perhaps they didn't like the way she was telling them what to do, even if, yes, they were probably in the wrong.

With Lizzy's recent (or not? maybe ongoing?) history of bossiness, I'm trying to convey that, yes, others will do silly or ill-advised things, but it's not really our job to tell others how to act.

She was really quite mad at these girls, and kept saying that she hoped their parents somehow knew how they had been acting, and they would get in trouble; that they would have a horrible day for the rest of the day; etc.

I said, "Honey, you can't control what other people do, but you CAN control how you react. There will always be mean girls around; it's not fair, but it's true. Don't let them have control over you by letting them upset you. You've got to shake this off now, so we can have a good rest of the day. And remember what this feels like, so you don't ever hurt others this way."

"Besides," I continued, "Mean people eventually get what they deserve. Do you know why? People won't want to play with them or spend time with them if they don't treat others nicely."

She stopped to consider this, then said, in a rather annoyed, resigned voice: "That sounds like something God would say."

Trying not to laugh, I said, "Well, actually, I bet God would say that we should love our neighbors, and be nice and kind even when other people are being mean to us."

"Yeah," she agreed. "I think he would say both those things."

Lord knows I need to take my own advice. This morning, I just about lunged at a self-important, dark-sunglass-and-suit-wearing guy who told me I couldn't use the crosswalk at 14th and F (making me wait FIFTY SECONDS until the light changed! Horrors!) because "someone's about to come out of the Willard." "Oh," I responded. "Well, I'm sure that's very important." "Hey, I was nice to you," he said. I sat there for about 48 seconds and fumed, then, right before shoving off (slowly -- I'm quite a tank these days) I shot back, "I think being POLITE would be KEEPING THE CROSSWALK OPEN FOR PEDESTRIANS."

Oops. Good thing Lizzy wasn't there.


  1. Sounds like some solid theology/parenting to me, Kate. Nice that Lizzy can recognize it too.

    And I can feel your pain on the sidewalk. Kinda funny that folks outside of DC get all gooey about all of the important people around here, while the locals largely see important causes and people as huge inconveniences (traffic, delays, and hassles). If I had a nickel for every time I was *commanded* to give deference to some 'important' person or place...

  2. Great post! I love your convo with Lizzy and the pedestrian side story...

  3. An important someone... it's nice that we're all unimportant nobodies in CT. I would feel very put upon during this stage of life if they made me wait for such a seemingly idiotic reason. Bravo on your restraint.

  4. It does feel like a lot of pressure to have a little one picking up on all that stuff, however subtle. I think I am going to have to reign in my critical spirit and tongue (with God's help . . . amen).