We were enjoying a lovely afternoon at the pool after a very fine day tasting wine in the Santa Ynez Valley. Lots of laughs between Jeff and K2 while I enjoyed reading Take this Bread on my Kindle. We swapped dinner ideas with some folks who were enjoying the hot tub. It was a picture perfect vacation afternoon. Until a family came to the pool: dad and three kids. Dad took it upon himself to make sure his son went into the pool. The boy, I’m guessing he was about 10, had no desire to swim. No matter, dad taunted him to take his shirt off or it would get wet and then chased him around the pool. Dad got big sisters into the act “it’s not our fault if his shirt gets wet!” The boy grabbed anything he could find to keep himself out of the water: the chaise lounge, table top, chair legs. It was painful to watch. It was obvious to those of us around the pool that the kid did not want to get into the water but by this point dad had invested way too much ego into his endeavor. We left before it ended. It wasn’t until this morning that the words I wished I had said came to me.
I’m boss of my body, please don’t/stop (fill in the blank).
Way too many years ago, Steve and Nancy Harrington shared with us a phrase they had taught all their kids when they were little. It was one we filed away until we had a child of our own. It is simple yet powerful. It reminds kids that they do have power. K2 uses it when we are having a tickle fight and it is time to stop. It doesn’t matter if she starts the tickling back up a moment after we stop. We respect her request. We remind her that there might/will be times when people don’t respect her request and she needs to get out of the situation in anyway possible. As an almost 9 year old those situations have remained minor and I pray that they always will be easy to resolve.
I keep thinking about that boy and that dad. It was probably meant to be playful fun but it didn’t look like much fun for the boy 0r the rest of us around the pool. I hope someone teaches him this line. I wish I had thought to say it then but since I didn’t I’m telling you to teach your kids, your friends, yourself.
You are boss of your body.