Last weekend Chris's indecently large German family had their annual family reunion. It is not so much a reunion as it is an excuse to get together and karaoke, which they do with a reckless and terrifying abandon. Because Chris's grandparents refused to allow old age - or the risk of breaking a hip - to deter their late night action, they had a frillion children. Thus, the family is enormous.
The reunion took place at an aunt and uncle's house whose large yard
accommodates an equally large pool. Because the reunion always takes
place on the hottest day of the year, all of the kids - and most of the
adults - swarmed the pool. There was much screaming, and shrieking, and
children flying through the air everywhere. It seemed that most of the
water was splashed out of the pool. Babies floated along the
waves in tiny floats, like pieces of driftwood, while parents fussed
over their sun block.
Liam manages himself fine on dry ground. When in the water he wears water-wings and can keep up with his older cousins, yet my eyes weigh his every move. One particular moment, while Chris had Ewan at one end of the pool, Liam swam in the middle with a group of his second cousins, one of them a 10-year-old boy. I was careful to watch but not LOOK like I was watching, because Liam is at the stage where if I LOOK like I'm watching I'm deemed Most Uncool and given a "Mom! Can you PLEASE stop watching? I'm not a baby." However, I wasn't about to turn away when one of the cousins he was swimming by was a boy with a reputation for not being particularly nice to the younger kids, especially to Liam. The boy was apparently tired of Liam swimming by him, raised his hand, placed it square on top of Liam's head, and shoved him underwater. He wasn't dunking him; he was holding him underwater HOLDING MY FIVE-YEAR-OLD SON UNDERWATER. The tops of Liam's arms were sticking out of the water, fighting laboriously to free himself. The boy wasn't letting go. There amidst all the noise and merriment, my son might've drowned and no one would've known.
I screamed the boy's name.
"GET YOUR HANDS OFF HIM. KNOCK IT OFF!"
He gave me a blank stare not unlike a slug.
"YOU'RE DROWNING HIM! GET YOUR HANDS OFF HIM OR SO HELP ME GOD I'LL DRAG YOU OUT OF THAT POOL BY YOUR THROAT."
He sneered and finally let go. Liam popped up to the surface half spitting and vomiting up water. His older first cousin swooped in, grabbed him and threw the boy a death look; I pulled Liam out of the pool the rest of the way with one arm. By this time I'd gotten Chris's attention, as well as that of everyone in the pool.
"What on earth is going ..." Chris began, but stopped when he saw Liam gasping for breath. "WHAT HAPPENED."
"HIM." I said, my eyes projecting five-foot flames as I pointed right at the boy. "He held him under water and wouldn't let go."
Chris turned to the boy, red with rage.
"Yeah, well he had his arm floats on," the boy spit.
"That doesn't matter when YOU'RE HOLDING HIM UNDER WATER, GENIUS." I shot. "I want you to put these on your arms, I want to hold YOU under."
"Whatever," the boy replied, and rolled his eyes.
"HEY. What's your problem?" Chris asked. "I know your mom. You like, I'll go talk to her right now."
"NICE ATTITUDE. Do you realize that you were drowning him? You CANNOT be rough like that with these little guys. Stay away from him from now on."
And with that the boy slithered out of the pool and off into the shade somewhere. I wanted to twist his neck like a bread tie. I was all at once livid and terrified; terrified because I knew had I not been watching it was likely that Liam would've drowned. He made no noise; there were so many in the pool and so much splashing and action, no one would've noticed the little boy being held under water until his lungs filled and he stopped breathing. They wouldn't have noticed until it was all over, until he was floating, motionless. Honestly, I don't know how I would stop from killing someone if that happened.
I hugged him and dried him off with a towel. Luckily, he wasn't traumatized. Chris stayed by his side in the pool for the rest of the day; their other cousins that Liam adores immensely joined them and before long Liam was playing alongside them in the water again.