This one has been sitting in my draft box for a while. I couldn’t edit it without getting tears in my eyes. After reading a headline today about a dad who pushed his 6 year old down a halfpipe track I realized I have something to say to dads behaving badly.
This is an open letter to the dad sitting next to me at swimming last week.
Dear poor excuse for a pile of garbage,
I’m the mom who was sitting next to you at swimming last week. The one who you complimented for her child’s swimming skills and attitude. While you were espousing the virtues of my child you completely ignored your own child who desperately wanted your attention. The whole thing was so painful to watch. A song by A Great Big World called ‘Say Something’ played in my head as I watched it all unfold. To me, it looked and sounded like this:
Each time your son took a few strokes, he looked back hopefully at you and gave you a thumbs up. You never responded in any way. You barely looked at him.
Say something I’m giving up on you.
Your son tried harder to get your attention. He dove under water and picked up the rings, holding them triumphantly as he came to the surface.Your son waved the rings in your direction hopefully. No response.
I am feeling so small. I was over my head. I know nothing at all.
He gave it one last, now half-hearted effort as the class came to a close. He swam the length of the class area with all of his might. He hung on the side of the pool as he finished, desperately looking for approval that never came.
I will stumble and fall. I’m still learning to love. Just starting to crawl.
With that, the lesson was over and your son got out of the pool and ran to his mom. She greeted him with cheers and hugs. As it should be. But then he looked at you one last time. No hope left in his eyes but still in his heart.
Say something I’m giving up on you. I’m sorry that I couldn’t get to you. Anywhere I would’ve followed you.
You walked over to say goodbye but your son wouldn’t look at you. You then demanded that he acknowledge you which I found incredibly ironic. Here is what, in my heart, I wish that he was saying to you.
I will swallow my pride. You’re the one that I loved. And I’m saying goodbye.
That’s not how children are though. Their hearts and their love are pure. Until someone like you destroys that. You probably don’t see yourself as that person but I promise you that you are. You came over to me as you were leaving to again compliment me on my son’s swimming skills. I stared at you blankly and didn’t answer. For whatever reason, you clearly wanted my attention. You weren’t going to get it because you failed your child and in my mind that is unforgivable. Don’t approach me next week at swimming or anywhere else for that matter.
You have nothing to say.