Every Tuesday morning my daughter and I go to the community pool in our neighborhood. We just started attending classes about three weeks ago. We both enjoy this morning activity and she loves to be in the water.
This week things were going pretty good. We were in a circle with all the mama’s, papa’s, and babies singing songs and guiding the babies around the water. I love the songs though, I am not 100% sure of all the words. In one part of the class we put our babies on their back by supporting their bums and necks then we guide them through the water. This, I’m not so great at because I have pain in my wrists. Also my daughter prefers to be up to see everyone so she tends to pop her head and chest up. Seeing our struggle, the instructor came by to offer his help. I obliged. He slipped his hand under her head and gently moved her around the water while explaining to me how it is done. After this exercise, he asked all of us to reconvene into a circle. The instructor explained the next exercise along with what song we were going to sing. At the end of his explanation he said, “Well maybe except you.” and pointed in my direction. I had a look of bewilderment on my face. Another Mom and I exchanged a puzzled look. I thought maybe they were going to do an exercise on the back again and waited for it to make more sense when the song started. After a few lines into the song the babies remained in the arms of their parents while they sang a simple song with a few hand gestures. None of what I saw was anything I couldn’t do or understand. Then the full awareness came over me. He must have realized that I am not Dutch [not hard to figure out] and decided I wouldn’t understand things or know the song. It felt awful to be singled out. I felt a wave of anger bubble up inside me because I didn’t like being isolated so blatantly. I ran through a few thoughts about it. None of which made me feel any better. After awhile I decided people make mistakes and often they assume things about people that are not necessarily true. I have a choice to not let this get in my way or take on any hidden meanings. It was hard at first because I really wanted to walk right out of the pool. Diversity in the US is taught in such a way that we are really sensitive to these things. Maybe, we are too sensitive. But here is an example of not using your own social code in a foreign country. The way foreigners are handled here is much different from home. After getting calm and clear, I realized he probably wasn’t sure how to treat me because he might not be able to speak English. People often say things they don’t mean when they are uncomfortable or feel insecure. So I decided not to give in to my anger and just continued on for the duration.
As we packed up our things he invited us all to take our children to the hot tub. I was making my way out of the pool area when he approached me and personally invited me over to the hot tub. We had a nice chat on the way to the hot tub and I was thankful that I didn’t let my feelings of isolation and anger get the best of me. He showed me that it wasn’t his intention to isolate me by coming to speak to me directly. If I had made the choice of leaving I would have missed this opportunity to get to know him better. It taught me that we always have a choice on how we want to perceive what another person says.
- Pool Peril (mommytalketc.wordpress.com)