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Writings on Motherhood, Judaism, and Happily-Ever-Afters

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Water Safety – It really does only take a second

(this is a repost from a few years ago, but totally worth repeating especially as summer gets underway)

I hesitate to blog about this, simply because my mind is really avoiding going there, but the facts are that yesterday, we came within in minutes of Sam drowning.

We were at a lake in one of the surrounding towns, one of those lakes or ponds that are everywhere in Central Massachusetts.  There was no lifeguard, but it felt so safe.  It was idyllic, lots of picnicking families, sand toys and buckets everywhere.  There were two beaches, separated by a bridge.  I’m crap at estimating, but I’d guess fifty feet wide.  Maybe a hundred?  It wasn’t big.  And we were there with a bunch of other people, and there were lots of little kids running around.

Sam and his buddy Harrison had gone across the bridge (with permission) and were playing on the opposite side from where we were sitting.  I was watching them, and they were wading in the water, throwing mud at each other.  It was idyllic, all these kids running and playing.  I looked away for just a minute.  I was checking the girls or talking to someone, I don’t even remember, I just know that I had been watching and then I wasn’t.  In that period of time, Sam went too far in and lost his footing and started to flounder in the water.  He’s a struggling swimmer, and good enough so that he’s not always as cautious as he should be.

Someone, another mom, pulled him out, and I didn’t see him struggling in the water, I just saw her pull him out.  I didn’t have that moment of realizing that he might die, I had the moment of realizing that he almost had.

I’ll never be able to not know that now.

I’ve never come that close before and as I relive it, I’m crying all over again. It happened so fast, and so without warning.  And in that moment, I could have lost him.  I could have lost him, and I can’t even wrap my mind around that.

I know that I’ll never, never, never go swimming anywhere without lifeguards again.  I’ll never, never, never let myself relax when my kids are near water.  Just because it feels like a perfect, peaceful summer day – anytime there’s water, my attention has to focused on my kids.  I’m going to do my best to not terrify them, Sam was okay, and eventually even asked if he could go back down and play in the water.  I don’t want to scar him and make him afraid – but I’ll never be not terrified of taking kids to the water again.

How did this happen?

I think when I first had children, I expected them to be just like me. And with Jessie, it worked. She and I are very similiar, we process information in much the same way, we find the same sort of things interesting, we both whine a lot, and are prone to temper tantrums :-). And like me, Jessica is happy as a clam sitting inside, reading a book, coloring, or playing with her dollhouse (not that I frequently color or play with dollhouses left to my own devices, but you get the point). Then I had Sam.

And yesterday afternoon, he put on his rainboots and announced he was going “side.” He’s just an outside kid, happiest when he’s at the park or even just hanging out in the driveway with a ball. It was pouring outside, but I took him out there and let him stomp in puddles. This morning, we were out there throwing around the soccer ball and watching a worm’s progress down the road. My favorite place to be on a gorgeous day is inside, curled up on a comfy chair next to an open window with a good book. And if the weather is crappy, I want to be inside. No questions. Sam’s favorite place to be, all the time, rain or shine, is outside.