What Will It Take For Someone to Protect My Daughters?

What Will It Take For Someone to Protect My Daughters?

Sometimes I need to take a deep breath and regain my composure before blogging.  Something happened yesterday that left me unable to take a deep breath or regain my composure.  I thought that I would be more composed today but that is not the case.  I am more upset.  I was looking up synonyms for the word, “irate” and had to lean on my thesaurus for help.

Synonyms: Angered, annoyed, blown a gasket, enraged, exasperated, fuming, furious, incensed, indignant, infuriated, irritated, livid, mad, piqued, provoked, riled, steamed, ticked off, up in arms, worked up.

Does that describe it?  No, but its a good start.

Yesterday as I was in the shower, the girls were overheard talking about the upcoming visit with their dad.  My five year old said, “I with that we could still see (professional supervisor’s name here)”.  “I know.  Dad says that he makes good decisions (now) but he doesn’t”, replied my 7-year old daughter.  I can’t speak word-for-word about what was said because I wasn’t there.  This conversation was relayed to me but that was the general dialog.  I know that my five year old has been trying to process things related to her father and visits.  I give her the space to do that and supply her with the tools to work through her feelings in counseling and in general communication.

We dropped the girls off with their dad from 11am to 5pm and upon pick up, I noticed that my youngest daughter had  been crying.  This was the ensuing dialog between my X and I:

Me: “What happened?”

X: “Well, the girls were pushing boundaries in the pool and went under water for a short period of time”

My immediate thoughts: remain calm and composed.  Do not over react.  Listen to the entire story before you open your mouth.

My 7 year old then chimes in and states: “(My sister) went under water.  I tried to save her and hold her above the water but then her head was higher than mine and I swallowed water also”.

X: “They were pushing boundaries- it was scary and they learned a lesson from it.  They are both fine”.

I got the girls into the car.  I wanted out of there badly.  A million thoughts going through my head but I remained calm and didn’t want to react until I knew more.  We drove home and over the next few hours, I heard the entire story.  Basically, it was my worst nightmare unfolding in front of me.  My daughters have never had swimming lessons.  They were in a pool without an adult in the water.  NO life jackets on.  My youngest daughter slipped off of her swimming noodle and she was trying to doggie paddle to the edge.  She inhaled two gulps of water before my 7-year old saw her struggling and jumped off her own noodle to save her.  She explained that she was trying to hold her sister out of the water so that she could breathe but in turn, she went under several times.  She said they tried to get their dad’s attention but he was lying out sun tanning wasn’t paying attention.  He finally realized what happened and jumped into the pool to rescue them.   My five year old is amendment that she swallowed five huge gulps of water.  “I counted them, momma” she said.

The girls brought up the incident throughout the night and several times this morning.  Last night at bedtime, my oldest daughter asked if she could write in her journal.  I am incredibly thankful that her teacher at school advocates daily journaling as I think this practice is invaluable.  This morning, she asked if she could share her journal with me on our drive to church.  This is a snippet of what she wrote:

“Today was a scary day for me and my sister.  It happened at my dad’s house.  When me and my sister were playing in the pool and we didn’t know how to swim and (my sister) fell off her floatie and almost drowned.  I tried to save her then I fell off my floatie but was holding (sister) up higher than me.  We drank chlorine water.  I think either my dad was not watching, he was not paying attention or he was sleeping.  But after about 12 seconds dad jumped in and got us out of the pool.  After that dad took us inside and we had cinamin raison bread, milk and chips and salsa”. 

My feelings as a protective Mother Bear are hard to describe even with a thesaurus in hand.  There is no excuse for what happened in his care yesterday.

I looked up drowning facts and prevention on a government website:

  • How long does is take for a child to drown? A child can drown in only a couple of minutes. It is important to always stay with your child around any type of water (pool, spa, ocean, lake). A child should never be left ALONE near any type of water – EVEN FOR “JUST A MINUTE.”
  • Every day, about ten people die from unintentional drowning. Of these, two are children aged 14 or younger. Drowning is the second leading cause of death for children ages 1 to 14 years.
  • How is drowning prevented:  Supervision when in or around the water. Designate a responsible adult to watch young children while in the bath and all children swimming or playing in or around water. Supervisors of preschool children should provide “touch supervision”, be close enough to reach the child at all times.  Adults should not be involved in any other distracting activity (such as reading, playing cards, talking on the phone, or mowing the lawn) while supervising children.

A responsible adult.   What a concept.  THIS is the person that the California Family Court System deems as “responsible enough” to care for my daughters without supervision.

Will it take one of my daughters DYING or being seriously injured for the court to say, “Okay, maybe he isn’t responsible enough”?  My seven year old daughter had to try and save her sister yesterday.  A seven year old was more responsible that a 38-year old man who was more concerned with his tan than watching his daughters.  The court-appointed supervisor previously notated on her reports that he doesn’t interact with the children on his visits.  She was right—not even when two little girls are in a body of water and could have lost their lives.

Sometimes I turn to my friends for the words I can’t seem to find.  My friend described it best today: “I think that we (as mothers) get punished for being too vigilant.  He (X) is too hell bent on having no restrictions and rules that he is ignorant of how inept he is as a father“.

One hour ago, I had to drop them off in his care again. My daughters asked me to talk to their dad prior and let him know that they don’t want to go back in the pool.  He agreed that they would stay inside today.  Irate can’t describe my feelings nor can any word that I can find in a thesaurus.

28 Responses

  1. Correct me if I’m wrong , but I bet one of the most painful parts of your story today was the lack of responsibility that your ex took for the whole situation. He tried to blame the near drowning on the girls saying they were “pushing the boundaries “. Makes me sick to my stomach. If he had the ability to admit fault and say he should’ve been watching them better, then at least you would know he understood the danger of what had occured, and might be more cognizant next time. But the complete disregard is the terrifying part. My ex is exactly the same. On a much smaller scale, when my infant (crawler & adventurer) came back from a visit with an obviously banged up, cut, swollen lip, I asked what happened and he said “oh, that came from your house before he got to me” no matter how much I clarified that his lip was not injured before the visit, and that I wasn’t mad, just wanted to know what happened , he just became more irate at the “audacity ” I had to blame his “fathering abilities”. I ended up retreating as usual because it was a losing battle. No one can understand the dynamics nor the craziness (for lack of a better word) of these npd’s unless you have lived it. I understand you!

  2. You are absolutely correct and it is absolutely infuriating.

    When he squeezed my daughter it was because she was “pushing boundaries”. When he hit my daughter in his car it was because she was “pushing boundaries and testing him”.

    “Pushing the boundaries”???? No….they were playing on swimming noodles and being normal little girls. The only “boundaries” being pushed are from him at the expense of my daughters’ lives and I am going to come out swinging tomorrow.

  3. omg…how horrible they went through that experience. I’m sure you’ll be worried more than usual about them all summer long now. Are they enrolled in swimming lessons? He is taking no responsibility in this and probably won’t in the future. I agree with your little one…I too wish they still had supervised visitation!


  4. Sue– Looking into swimming lessons immediately. I already had plans to do that this summer but this is a priority now.

    The girls and I have now discussed “Family Rules” and those are a set of rules that are set in stone no matter where they are– with friends, family, their dad, etc. The first rule is that we do not enter any body of water unless we have a life vest on and an adult is in that body of water with us. It is mind boggling that I have more faith and confidence in my daughters to use common sense then I do their own father but that is the reality that I must accept.

  5. I feel sick reading this Tina…. my thoughts are with you. I am in high court on wednesday with this fraud psychologist (the brother of my ex’s legal teams) report suggesting FULL CUSTODY to him and Im a parent alienator… please keep us in your prayers..

  6. You are in my prayers (always) and I owe you an email back– will respond tonight or tomorrow. (((Hugs))) to you my overseas friend.

  7. Tina, you can’t find the word because you are likely feeling so many different things that one word can’t describe it all. Anger is probably what appears on the surface and feels the most strong but there has to major fear, confusion, rage, shock, dispair etc and so on. I don’t know what to say, it is so scary and frustrating to hear your story. Trying to anticipate his next stupid move so that you can keep your girls one step ahead to protect themselves is another crazy battle to have to fight. It also makes them have to grow up way to fast. They should feel as if thir Dad is their protector. Why the hell does he even want to see them if he can’t interact with them. I know the answer to that…just voicing frustration for your situation. I hope the girls are safely home now with no additional horror stories.

  8. I have rules w/my son too…but he’s too afraid of his dad to go against him if he tells him something different. I just hope that he feels he can trust me if something happens there that he knows is wrong.

  9. The prior commenter brings up a good point about the repurcusioins the children could fear “paying” for following your Family Rules about swimming while with their dad. What type of reaction do you think he will have the next time he takes them to the pool and they wont get in? Just something to think about and plan for as well which Im sure you are. What do you think his response will be when they say they arent allowed to swim – Im sure it will be taken as an insult to him (since its always about him not their actual safety). “Pushing boundaries” ugh makes me sick. Thank goodness your girls are able to communicate so openly with you.

  10. Every single time I read this blog, I just keep repeating in my head, “she HAS to escape with them…” You are not the only one I know of in this dire situation and that in itself is despairing. You would have to BECOME A FELON and kidnap your own kids to keep them safe. How is that right? But it sounds like this is one in a long long list of examples of how your girls have been endangered. And you’re right: will it take them DYING before anything changes?! Sickening.

    You are my hero for enduring this, Tina.

  11. Trisha– you are correct. I would have to become a felon and kidnap my children. It is literally insane. I hear from women all over the world– South Africa, Ireland, Canada….everywhere….all in the same position. 🙁

    He sent me messages today showing photos of (M) in the pool WITHOUT a life jacket today despite promising that they wouldn’t even go in the pool today. His text messages were to tell me how great she can swim on her back and that I am totally “over reacting”.

  12. Can you use the journal entry and photos in court to try and reinstate the supervisde visits? I always wonder if bringing these types of incidents to the court’s attention just makes US look bad, like we’re fishing for anything against our exes. Sadly I suppose it wouldnt do much, since judges seem to think as long as you arent sexually abusing your child or actively using hard drugs, you are suitable to have unsupervised visitation. But on the other hand, you never know – maybe the judge would act on the near-drowning, so as not to have that hanging over their head SHOULD something worse happen in the future.

  13. The near drowning could work in your favor, however, the courts are corrupt and turn everything around in order to do whatever they want. I have mothers in my group MOTHERS WHO WANT OUR CHILDREN BACK, who have reported their exes for molestation, the father has been investigated, found guilty and jailed and they took her child for “failure to protect” AFTER THEY HAD GIVEN HIM consideration, but before he was arrested…

    we are all living on the edge, and many of us have PTSD and it is very stressful to keep our mouths quiet, but if we do not, if we say the wrong to the wrong person at the wrong time, WE are charged and held responsible for things that we only speak about, and THEY seem to be golden and get away with ANYTHING, unless we push for an investigation and their behavior is finally exposed!

  14. I am looking into that now– waiting to hear back from the attorney that I consult with.

  15. What infuriates me is the courts’ mentality that the most important thing is preserving each parent’s time with a child, no matter WHAT. They are so caught up in everyone’s “righs” that they loose site to the Best Interest of The Child. They act as if the children will be terribly damaged if the “bad” parent is not given enough access to the child. Meanwhile your CHILDRENS wellbeing – not just emotional but now physical, and even their LIVES – are at stake. Apparently that is not paramount to a Father’s rights to have access to his children, no matter how dangerous and damaging he is? All it takes is ONE INCIDENT for something horrible to happen. Once the children are old enough they can choose for themselves, but until then I do not understand how Chldren’s safety and emotional/phsyical well being are continuously held SECOND to a remiss/abusive/neglectful parent’s “right” to his/her children. My EX was ordered to have alcohol evaluation, evaluation of his psychiatric medications, and full screening for mental helath issues yet STILL given every other weekend with our 15 month old?? Makes no sense.

  16. I know– we are in the same issue. My daughter didn’t end up wearing a life jacket on Sunday and stated that there wasn’t one her size and she didn’t feel comfortable saying, “no” to her dad. I get it. I didn’t feel comfortable saying “no” to him for 10 years.

  17. You are correct– they didn’t stand up to him and I understand their feelings. They swam– without life vests on Sunday 🙁

  18. I’ve told my son if he doesn’t feel comfortable saying ‘no’ to let me know so I can try to talk to his dad, but my son doesn’t want me to sometimes because then dad will get mad at him that he told me. So I make sure I word it so it sounds like my idea and not something he has told me about. It is a hard thing protecting our kids w/out seeming like we are sometimes. Does that make sense?

  19. This is really serious. His emotional abuse can be countered by your great parenting — but possible drowning is in another league. Swimming lessons are great but children can still drown even if they can swim and they should never be at a pool without a responsible adult watching VERY carefully.

    You could consider filing an ex-parte motion (the time shortening type so you can do it soon) in which you describe the incident in which both little girls could easily have drowned in careful accurate detail and then request that the girls cannot be taken near a pool by him and explain why he is not a safe supervisor of small children near or in water (drinking problem, recent incident at pool, poor judgement, and any other very specific things that support your request). Is the pool at his house (I pray not!) If it is, consider asking that the visits take place somewhere else where they are no pools. Include in your motion a brief summary of the stats on drowning of young children in California and length of time it takes to drown.
    The thought of him doing this all summer is just awful … not only is it way too risky but it will also mean you never get a moment’s peace while they are with him (not that it was relaxing before, but this is the worst I’ve heard about him).
    I hope the judge will understand this. If you offer alternatives so the judge cannot interpret it as you trying to undermine visitation, your case will be stronger. “The pool situation is not safe but I am willing for them to go to the park with him or x or y during the court ordered visits” (so you do not suggest you agree with the visits, but that you are fully cooperating because ordered to do so).
    The girls are too little to keep themselves safe under the circumstances, but even so, impress upon them the rules of water safety (don’t ride bikes around the pool’s edge, don’t lean over to grab out toys from the deep end, etc). And certainly getting them so they can easily swim across the pool is better than not … but beginning swimming lessons can also lead to more boldness around water which can backfire. There is no substitute for a responsible, normal, sober, caring adult supervisor.

    Good luck!

  20. Tina – I have recently found your blog and thank God every day for finding you.

    My ex purchased a home on a canal – my little one is not even three, but loves the water. I took it upon myself to sign him up for swimming lessons since his father is a selfish *** and could care less if he were to fall in.

  21. Thank you –it goes both ways as everyone on here helps me also.

    Yes- we are signing up for swimming lessons immediately. It is frustrating to think that I trust a 19 year old babysitter more than I trust my X husband with his own children. That is the reality so I need to accept that and then act accordingly.

  22. NPD’s project. When you are no longer available to blame for the ‘fill-in-the-blank’s in their life, their children become the next target to project their own deficencies onto. Its easier for them to blame a 5 year old, or a 2 year old, or a 12 year old, than to step up to the plate and say ‘I did that’.

    Just because NPD is a mental disorder does not give them a free pass to damage those around them. Otherwise there would be no alcoholics sitting in prison for vehicular manslaughter.

    Be strong for your daughters and keep giving them the resources so that they can learn how to protect themselves from his dysfunction.

  23. Sue, sometimes if the NPD hears it from a neutral third party, it can make a difference in how they respond to something. If your son is seeing a therapist (and if he doesn’t feel he can say no to either parent, he needs to be seeing a therapist), the therapist may be able to discuss things with your son’s father when you are not present. It doesn’t automatically mean he will listen, but it does take you out of the delivery. And if he refuses to listen (or is incapable) it gives you yet one more credible witness to his dysfunction.

  24. Another thought as the mother of 11 and daughter to an ex charter fisherman. Teach out of water rescues to your daughters. Look them up- Identify them as the safest way to help someone in trouble in the water. The very first thing is yell “Help” and say what is wrong- not just help. Address it to someone- “Help Dad!” Teach them and he to have “Safety” words when they swim- so even if he daydreams, the sound of the word may get his attention. Put it in writing, give it to him, do not let him not acknowledge receipt or awareness, so that he cannot confuse actual distress as play yelling.

    Having them climb out of the water, extend a noodle to the other from the side of the water is probably the safest thing for both of them if he is not compliant with the jackets.

    Use a safety ring with rope at a neighborhood pool- show and teach them how to throw the ring beyond the person and use the rope to drag it to the person. Role play and practice. They can be of great help to each other while he is not paying attention- it can be the difference between safe or sorry.

    The only other thing even with swimming lessons is Pray. It is all we have left to protect our children.