So, as I often do when the world seems to spin slightly off its axis, I posted to Twitter:
And before long, I received this reply:
And the conversation descended from there:
I'm guessing I was a little frustrated by the end. And I'm guessing by the time all is said and done, I'm going to have one less Twitter follower, as we clearly don't see eye to eye on this one. But here's the deal: I was a lifeguard for most of my teenaged years. I spent my days watching over kids whose parents and caregivers would either drop them off and leave them there, alone, all day, or would stay on-site while their kids ran roughshod throughout the pool area. Their attitude: Someone else will take care of my kid.
My apologies if I disagree with that attitude. It isn't the lifeguards' responsibility to take care of your kid. It's yours. Sure, guards have ultimate responsibility for the safety of the area and everyone in it, but if you think it's acceptable to simply walk away and let them be solely responsible for ensuring your kid stays alive, you're mistaken.
My kids are all excellent swimmers. Yet every time we go to the beach, I'm watching them like a hawk, because you never know. My eyes don't leave them, because strong as they are, a rogue current or wave could easily throw them off. It's unfathomable to me that I'd leave that sole accountability in the hands of someone in a tower who's also got to watch thousands of other people in a crowded, chaotic environment. So I don't.
Already this year, drowning stats in Ontario and Quebec are headed for record highs. A two-year-old died this week in a backyard pool, another toddler was pulled from a fish pond...and they were always out of sight for "just a second." My Twitter colleague may think I have no right, that my words are in poor taste, that speaking about it won't change anything.
But I remember full well what it felt like to pull a vital signs-absent four-year-old from the bottom of the deep end, then try to keep myself from coming apart as I worked on him for what seemed like forever before he finally came back to us. His instructor had turned away for "just a second". His name was Kirk, and I'll never forget how that so-called accident happened, and what it did to all of us when it was all over. It changes you - and this one had a happy ending. What happens when it doesn't? Like today?
I dont care how impolite Mr. Matthews thinks I am: Something needs to change. Now.
Your turn: Thoughts?
Update - Sun July 22: I'll be on-air live with CBC Ontario Morning's Mike Ewing tomorrow (Mon July 23) at 7:10 a.m. Eastern to discuss this issue. Hope you can tune in. Link here.
Update - Tue July 31: My handy dandy Twitter Unfollower Tracker feature confirms that Mr. Matthews has unfollowed me. I know, such a surprise :)