Learning at the pool

I can't tell you how much I wanted to step in and sort this situation out. But biting my tongue and staying put was a glorious lesson.

Picture this...

A glorious sunny day in a Greek resort, not a cloud in the sky, perched on a sun lounger by the side of the pool watching my children play in the water. The pool is very kid focused and full of brightly coloured water slides, fountains, jets, wheels. My two are having a ball!

And then the older boys arrive. We've all experienced them - they come in threes or fours, buoyed by their numbers and the desire to compete with one another - who's the toughest? The game today? Block the water slide.

If my eldest, Poppy, doesn't become a lawyer or a judge I'll be surprised. I'm not sure I know anyone with a stronger sense of justice. And this situation is unjust - so Poppy lets these boys know. 

It has no effect. She comes over to us briefly to make us aware of the situation but swiftly returns to give those boys another piece of her mind. Still no justice is served and she disappears from my view. 

This is when I am ready to pounce, to defend my babies.

My alarm is unnecessary. Before I jump up I see that Poppy has found allies of her own – four of them! They try again. Still the older boys show no sign of relenting and by now, my urge to intervene is even stronger. 

Instead I choose to breathe and let these children find their own way. I realise what I am watching is a practice in conflict management. They try many strategies; sending in the cute younger sibling to melt hearts, brute force, avoidance, reasoning, nonchalance.

What wins in the end? Perseverance! The kids simply do not give up and eventually the older boys get that and make way for them.

I found myself wondering if the same would be true for adults. How often are we as persistent as those kids? Of course some of us are. But there are are plenty of times that I simply give up because stepping into the uncomfortable just seems too much bother. And what's the sacrifice?