It was the fifth and final day of our vacation. We were in the wave pool AGAIN. It was our daughters’ favorite pool at the resort. Jump! the waves…Jump! the waves….Jump! the waves…for six minute stretches of time. Then the waters would calm down so the girls could snorkel for six minutes. Repeat.
The waves were big. The hyper-diligent lifeguards would stop the waves as necessary to help little children who appeared to be overwhelmed by the pounding waves. This “wave-stoppage” happened every day we visited the wave pool. On this last day, it was a young towheaded boy who was retrieved from the deep end of the pool and returned to his mother, who was standing in the shallow area. It had become a common scene. I knew to stay where I was, knowing the waves would start again. I wanted to finish out my six minutes of jump-squats.
When the waters calmed, I hauled myself out of the pool and flopped onto the lounge chair. My husband and sister brought me up to speed on the drama I had missed during my exercise routine.
“Do you see that tattoo’d guy over there? Do you see that little boy in the chair? That dad just was screaming at that little boy after they rescued him from the wave pool! It was awful! No one should yell like that to a child!”
At that moment, when I looked at the man, I entered another dimension. My vision narrowed until I could only see him and the boy. The rest of the gigantic “Indoor Water Dome” was gone. The cacophony of sounds muted so that I could only hear my own voice speak to the tattoo’d man and towheaded boy. But it was not my voice. This voice said things that I would not say.
“I’m sorry about your childhood. It must have been terrible. But you’re trying! You took your son to a waterpark to have fun! Thank you for trying to be a good father. I forgive you for falling short just now”. “And you buddy, you will have so many good memories from today. Later on you will be laughing and smiling and having fun. Remember those moments, not the memory of being dragged from the pool and belittled in public. Forget the negative. Cherish the positive”. “And you, Susan, this parenting stuff is so hard. There have been several less-than-textbook-perfect moments with your daughters this week. I forgive you too!”
Then, the lense zoomed back out and the volume turned up. I was back. My husband’s and sister’s conversation continued as though I was never gone. “He’s still sitting in timeout! The mom just kept her head down in shame the whole time!” “I was about to walk over to him and give him piece of my mind! He should have comforted the boy, not punished him!”
They both looked at me, wanting me to join in their judgement chorus with my standard pithy “They should issue licenses to become a parent” comment. They wanted me to jump into crashing waves of criticism. But I couldn’t. Instead I simply stated, “That’s sad” and stayed a moment longer in my calm, peaceful, sleepily blue ocean of forgiveness.
I have no idea how I chose the mercy seat over the judgement seat. It was not a choice I consciously made.
It was a wave pool miracle.