Wednesday 13 July 2016

Family dynamics

FAMILY dynamics at the swimming pool.

Holidays bring out the best and worst in people.  Watching people in the summer sunshine is fascinating to me.  I see families excited, some angry, others totally comfortable with their routines.  Clearly seasoned travellers. 

Take the guy in the blue shorts.  Michael. 
You never quite know. 
We have many German families here.  The odd one of another nation.  Yet none are Russian.  They loved Egypt when I used to frequent Egypt. 
Loved it.  And the men.  Anyhow…Michael.  Our first full day by the pool and here was this guy with blue trunks,  a frustrated animation team member as he stood at the side of the pool with an unwilling daughter in tow, dancing along as the animator instructed the holiday makers to dance in the water for Aqua Aerobics.  Almost silently my son and I exchanged words which showed we both had acknowledged this guy with a slight silent smile.

Later in the afternoon,  Michael was staggering around the poolside.  Singing.  Ish.

Up to the bar for another drink, still kinda singing.  Passing us on our sunbeds.  “No sing?”  He asked in broken English.  Why do we speak in broken English when it’s our mother tongue?  Thinking we were of another country, I just looked at him perplexed and raised my eyebrows with a question mark to show I don’t understand.  Scott replied, “No, No sing.”  As inside I frowned.  Engaging a drunk isn’t what you do, especially if he thinks you can’t understand him.   Something I learnt rather quickly when I went into pub management at the tender age of 21.

Watching him, I could clearly see he had his beer muscles on, finding it amusing to attempt to gently punch people in the arms.  That pub training didn’t allow me to take my eyes off him.  Almost as if it would be my responsibility to sort out whatever was going to happen next.
The barman was saying something that was outside of my earshot and asking Michael to calm down using his hands as if he was dowsing down a fire.

Staggering back to his sunbed place, I heard, I’m totally paralettic as he laughed.  The passer by he was telling tried not to have eye contact or smile which would be even worse!

After sometime he reached his sunbed and began to ‘play’ with his son.  The same arm punching that he was attempting to entertain everyone with at the bar.  Difference was, they were men, his son was at most ten years old.  The son looked angry and upset. Fighting back with his swimming goggles, swinging for the top of his dads head.  Then the thumping started for them both, back and forth swinging for each other.  The Dad laughing, son with a furrowed brow.  Unhappy.

After some time of me watching this, thinking inside that I suddenly was a social worker and should get involved, the boy took off and sadly went swimming on his own.  Still I wondered what I might do to help.  Should we take our ball into the pool and begin to play catch?  Cheering him up?  I summised what a terrible father he must have and with no sign of the mother in sight, I guessed this was meant to be father son bonding time.  The mother would surely go crazy if only she knew. 

Should I offer to call the boys mum for him?  I was sure he was English.  I know she would be horrified yet glad that another mother would now be looking out for her boy.

The blue short guy became unconscious on the sunbed as the boy began to play more happily and that was the last I saw of the boy that day.

While it bothered me and still I wondered if I should help, I did find myself sleeping well that night and setting up camp with my family the following day. 

To my shock,  amazement and slight embarrassment this seemed like a totally new day.  I witnessed a very well turned out father.  With his wife! Along with two beautiful daughters.  There were packets of ping pong rackets and balls, suncream galore and some solemn faces.
The dutiful wife applied suncream to his back and rubbed in for protection against the blazing sunshine.  With no great love or massage about it.  But a comfort that demonstrated years of marriage, with all its ups and downs. 
Then the roles were reversed,  the wife asked her husband to cream her back too.  Handing him the ping pong to be revealed from its packaging, he looked at it front and back and threw it hap hazardly on the sun lounger, tossing it aside for someone else to open as he shook the suncream bottle to squeeze onto his hands. 

I observed as he rubbed the cream into his wife without even thinking and not much looking.  He did it with ease of practice.  They were comfortable together. He even ensured he didn’t miss under the straps.  Quickly,  practically this sun cream application taught me so much.  This family were not perfect.  Michael definitely wasn’t.  Yet despite us noticing he ‘had his collar felt’ by his wife, he remained sober this day.  He played nicely with his three children who all wore smiles of delight all day. 

We all have our ups and downs.  I feel I was right to feel concerned at the situation I witnessed, yet I was wrong to assume he was a bad father.  What I saw before me was a loving family and a patient wife.  Michael went the wrong way about letting his hair down but from what I could see, he had more than made up for his imperfections of being human.

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