Unclaimed Kids


Yesterday, Lil’ Lewie and I went to the beach (really it’s a lake called Burr Pond) with my sister-in-law, her boyfriend, and her four year-old princess. (She truly believes she is one too.) It was a rather busy Friday afternoon, and the lake was hopping with kids—some running around with pool noodles, foam bats, Super Soakers, and other toys that could easily be placed in Wal-Mart’s Blaster Toy category. (Yes, it exists.) I looked around and noticed that Lil’ Lew was only one of two kids that actually brought a pail of sand toys. Go figure.

Okay, so right away, I knew we were in for some wild mania at the lake—tons of kids running around hitting each other with foam bats and pool noodles will usually lead to some kind of injury. Sure there was a lifeguard on duty, but how she could keep track of so many little ones running around was anybody’s guess.

To avoid the wild crowd stationed by the large rock (like I said, an injury seemed inevitable), we decided to play on the side of the beach with less action. At first, it appeared that Lil’ Lew had made an older friend in red swim trunks. However, as he started to push my little boy and mumbled under his breath, “No, get lost. I was playing here. This is my sandcastle,” I realized the “friend” was more like a mortal enemy. Of course, if Lil’ Lewie had been wrecking or touching an actual sandcastle or something made in the sand, I would have reprimanded him to leave it alone. Instead, this little boy must have been hallucinating because there wasn’t even a mound of sand near him that could be identified as something that he made.

I immediately broke up the pushing, but then scoped the beach to find the parent. Amazingly, there didn’t appear to be one. Who was watching this little boy? The little boy continued to be a nuisance as he whispered insults under his breadth. “Why do you guys have to play here anyway? This is my area. You guys are stupid.” Since he said it rather softly, I didn’t think it was intended for us to hear, so we ignored it and continued to play, giving the little boy enough space as possible for his imaginary turf.

As my sister-in-law’s boyfriend jumped into the lake and started to play with the “princess,” he suddenly drew an admiring crowd of little kids who wanted to play with him also. Some started to whack him with pool noodles while others tried tapping him and running away as quickly as possible. It was all in good fun, and my sister-in-law’s boyfriend didn’t seem to mind playing with everyone, but again, the question arose once more, “Where are the parents?” It was obvious that these kids were dying for some attention. Some were playing a little too roughly, but again, “Where are the parents?” Was it our job to tell these kids that they were being a little too rough and aggressive in the water?

Lil’ Lewie tried making friends with a three year-old little girl. She proudly put three fingers up when I asked her her age. She didn’t seem to be too interested in Lil’ Lewie when she heard his baby gibberish. Instead, she passed us out and started wadding in the deeper water. Not having any flotation devices, I became nervous and felt like it was my duty to watch her. Once again, I scoped the beach to see if it looked like anyone was watching her, and amazingly, I couldn’t pick out anyone.

After three hours at the lake, Lil’ Lewie and I decided to leave. (It was a warm day, and even though he was wearing sunscreen, I was a little worried about him getting too much sun exposure.) I didn’t envy the lifeguard who was now standing by the rock looking like she was going to have to lecture someone. Apparently, it was her job to watch anyone age 3 and up who decided to go into the water. She was the new childcare provider with an adult to child ratio of 1:120.


  1. Oh you're speaking my language!! Taking my kid to the pool is INSANE most times b/c I swear I am the only adult there... and you described the "attention seekers" perfectly! Where are their parents? That's a great question!

  2. I totally agree! In high school and college I worked as a lifeguard and, as you called them, unclaimed kids were such an issue. Out of the 5 saves I made while lifequarding, all of them were kids that adults were not watching. Whether it be the daycare provider, parents, or other adults, typically they were just hanging out, soaking up sun, and completely unaware of what their kids were doing. I just can't understand it. Water can be dangerous. I know there are lifeguards but come on. So frustrating!

  3. Thanks for your comments Mandy and L. I'm glad to know I'm not the only one who feels this way. I used to think being a lifeguard was a glamorous job; now I realize there's way more to it than just basking in the sun.


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