So, Dexter went for a swim at the weekend.
Since the disaster with the pool on holiday (Dexter hated it) we’ve been hesitant to take Dexie swimming. Our main concern was the temperature. Dexter likes warm baths and hates feeling cold. I’m not a huge fan of swimming either and didn’t want to take him myself. We’ve always thought it was important to take him though as it’s a skill that might one day save his life.
So off we went to a local pool in Reading. It’s the warmest pool we know of so we hedged our bets. Sitting in the spectators lounge – I had to fight the temptation to whip out my iPhone and take pictures. Dexter looked so cute in his little swimsuit splashing around in Craig’s arms. He was so happy and confident in his Zoggs Trainer Seat, Craig noticed he was even kicking his legs in the water beneath. Seeing that Dexter was having fun, Craig decided to be brave and float him instead. Dexter was happy on his back and even reacted well to being briefly underwater. Finally, as the pool was graduated and had no steps – the swallow areas had only a few cms of water and Dexter was able to lay on his front on his knees and lift his head out of the water.
I’d have seriously loved to have come away with some pictures but was deterred by the massive sign by the entrance to the lounge “No photography beyond this point”. There was only myself and one other person sitting in the lounge area and it was clear that neither of us were pedophiles. She was around 40, engrossed in 50 Shades of Grey, and continually checking her watch – every inch the archetypal middle-aged mum taking her children swimming. It made me think – I’d be horrified if there was man in an anorak and a long lens snapping pics of the kids. But then if I were to shoot Mr Anorak an accusatory glance and whisk Dexter away, I suppose I should extend the same suspicions to Mrs 50 Shades. What makes me qualified to decide if someone is acting illegally or not?
In some ways – it’s like the world has gone mad. You wouldn’t wrestle a camera off a man at Disney World just because it’s full of children, yet in Britain, I constantly hear stories of parents being prevented from filming their own children at a nativity play or sports day in case the pictures are misappropriated. Yes – pedophiles are vile and of course we’d all do anything to safeguard our children from predatory advances, but are we taking the whole thing too far? With breaking stories such as the posthumous investigation into Jimmy Saville – the western world is turning increasingly into a ‘trust no one’ society.
But where does it end? When Dexter takes part in his first school play, all I will have to remind me is a photo of him in his costume in front of my fireplace, and not onstage in character. There won’t be an action shot of him winning an egg-and-spoon race either. These were precious memories for my parents and I remember whole albums dedicated to my school days.
Then there’s this blog. I’ve posted hundreds of photos of Dexie. I don’t even bother changing our names. Why should I? This blog is in the public domain, completely unprotected and anyone can view it. But why should I worry? There are millions of pictures of children in their nappies all over the web. Every time we buy a packet of Huggies or Pampers there’s a semi naked baby posing adorably on the packaging!
So what is the solution? Should we ID parents on entry to a swimming pool, school gate, cinema? But wouldn’t this limit the freedom of grandparents and family friends to take children out for the day of fun? Of course this is a ridiculous suggestion. So is the only solution to ban photographing your children in public places? Couldn’t that very same person with horrific motivations be swimming alongside my child in the pool!?
I did manage just a quick one of the boys at the side of the pool and was careful to get no one else in it – but the photo is so awful I was reluctant to post it. Dexter looks so chubby it doesn’t even look like him – but hey for prosperity’s sake – here’s my baby on the day of his first ever swim with Daddy. Yet another example of me flaunting the rules… ssshhh don’t tell anyone!