Every day at exactly twelve noon, we open the doors to the local community pool, and there you are waiting with your children. You take them in, give them a quick kiss and a five dollar bill, then you leave. We do not see you again till seven or nine at night when you finally come back to pick your child up. For anywhere between seven to nine hours your school-aged child is here alone. You silently think it is okay though, because there are lifeguards here, and it is their job to watch your child. There is one problem with your philosophy though: about twenty other parents think the same way. Now, all of the sudden there are twenty children here with no adult supervision. We can no longer properly do our jobs. Now, instead of being lifeguards, we are glorified babysitters.
Now, instead of guarding other people’s lives - people who paid admission into the pool believing that they were protected - we are scolding your child for throwing grapes at other pool patrons. We spend our day yelling and blowing our whistles at your children who won’t stop running or who are towel-whipping each other. Then after about the third time yelling at your child, we get “fed up” and make them sit in time out. Now, after making your child sit for the third time, we begin to get frustrated, and so we kick them out for the day. But now, you become offended because your little angel has been kicked out of the pool. You argue that he was just trying to have some fun or that he didn’t try to break the rules. We politely and professionally explain that we had to yell at your child multiple times throughout the day (and most likely for the same thing). We have to remind you that we are not your child’s babysitters, but instead, we are the pool’s lifeguards. We watch you as you grab you child and make your way towards the exit, and in a huff you exclaim, “Well what do you lifeguards do anyway?”
This is probably the most important question that you have ever asked us, but we never get to answer it because you are always storming out in a huff. You never let us explain what exactly our job entails and why we are not babysitters. Right now though, we finally have the ability to answer. In order to become lifeguards, we all underwent months of extensive training to learn various life-saving techniques to not only save your child but you as well. Our training does not stop once we pass the initial course either. We practice our skills every week in order to keep them fresh and strong. Every two years, we get re-certified to learn the latest techniques. Our job is to save the little girl who jumped off the diving board but couldn’t swim. Our job is to administer a life-saving shock to the grandfather who just had a heart-attack. Our job is to save the infant who is choking. Our job is to give CPR to the teenager who stopped breathing and had no pulse. Our job is to save the teenager who smacked his head off the diving board. Our job is to save the distressed swimmer. Our job is to save not only you and your child but every single pool patron. Please, let us do your job.
A Disgruntled Glorified Babysitter