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  • Hot sun, laughter, splashing water; children running and playing; it was a beautiful relaxing afternoon and looked like a carefree scene to any passerby.

    I was visiting, with my husband and two daughters, a strange extended American family group, consisting of two sisters, their husband/partners and children, and their mother with her young lover, who were renting a house with a pool.

    I joined the women who were gathered in the shade watching a few men playing football. A smaller group was involved in an intense discussion, oblivious to their surroundings.

    “Look at them!” complained Dorothy, a small skinny young mother “They have no idea what is going on around them. Let’s go and get some ice cream from the store down the road. Don’t tell the guys that we are going let them cope without us for a change.” Her sisters obeyed her.

    I automatically signaled to my husband that I was going, that the two girls were running around the pool and could he watch them. He signaled back he would do so.

    We walked languidly along the road taking our time. We reached the welcome cool shade in the store and bought a tub of ice cream. “Let’s see how the men have managed without us!” Jane joked, as she strolled back to the house in a relaxed manner, “What disasters will we find!”

    We arrived at the house and found all the men standing around their faces white with anxiety.
    My heart sank. One man was on the phone calling the hospital. And Jane’s partner Richard was standing sobbing holding the blue semi-conscious body of their son, which was dripping with water, in his arms.

    “He was floating upside down in the pool! We pulled him out and gave him mouth to mouth resuscitation Where were you?”

    Jane couldn’t believe it. “Why didn’t you watch him?”

    “I thought you were there!” he sobbed.

    Richard, a very gentle caring man, was beside himself with grief and guilt. The rest of the group tried to comfort Jane whilst they all piled into a car to take the child to the local hospital. I wish I had not been silent in my protest. I hugged my two daughters to calm them down and took them home.

    I should have said, “Don’t put your children at risk to prove a point.”
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