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Guilty Hereos

Apr 8, 2007 — My husband and I went to a birthday party last night that was open to adults and their children.

We were at the party maybe 10 minutes when we decided to head out back, where there is a pool. We immediately noticed one little girl (about 4 years old) riding a tricycle around the pool. She seemed to phase out every so often, and the tricycle would get very close to the edge of the pool until she came around and corrected it. We stood and watched this for several minutes, and then commented that while we would unquestionably jump in to save her, it would be a big bummer because then we'd be very wet and cold for the rest of the party. Not 5 seconds later she failed to correct the tricycle, and in a minute of distinct slow motion, the rear tire edged out over the pool and hung there. Despite being 20 feet away, I somehow felt that if we just grabbed her and the bike, we could prevent her falling in, but she moved her weight and the whole bike tipped right into the pool. Ryan was in the pool immediately, handed her to me, and I got her inside, wrapped in a towel, and to her mom within a few minutes.

For the rest of the party, guests kept making comments about how we saved the little girl. (Ryan had to put his clothes in the dryer and change into clothes that were quite obviously not his, which elicited questions and comments throughout the evening). The oldest kid, an 8 year-old boy, came up to me at one point and said, very awestruck, "He SAVED Carmen's LIFE." Carmen's mom made a point of thanking us several times, and pointing out that Carmen was okay now.

Throughout all this, Ryan and I couldn't shake this horribly guilty feeling that we shouldn't have just "saved" Carmen, we should've prevented the whole thing from happening, since we were watching her and knew it was a big possibility. We said this to the people who were gushing over it, but they shook it off and re-affirmed their appreciation for the service we did.

Meanwhile, we feel like poop.

rnewhouse says:

Yeah, you could have prevented the whole thing by blowing the whistle on Carmen (and the adults who were not paying attention to her) before she fell in.

However, you didn't just turn your back on the kid. You were observing, and ready to jump in if the need arose, which it did. In the meantime, Carmen got to experiment with the physical universe on her own terms, and find out exactly what happens when you ride a bike at the edge of a pool without paying attention. I'll bet she won't do it again, but she might have if she was just interrupted in her play.

In the long run, you probably did her and her parents more of a service than if you'd just stopped her in the first place. The good deed of pulling her out of the pool was kind of obvious, and what any sensible person would have done. The greater deed was allowing her (and her parents!) to experience the logical conclusion of her own actions. That took more fortitude that most people (including myself) would have had, I think.

Jackson says:

Hmm, we never thought about it that way. Her mom DID say that she hoped Carmen would have more respect for water now, instead of her irrational fear of water.

Baggy says:

Yes, I agree.

You let her experience the thing for herself, instead of not letting her having that experience.

Of course it's not a nice experience but you'll be sure that next time she will watch out before it happens.

Hip Hip hurray for the good guys!!!

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