Thursday, 18 July 2013

In the Blink of an Eye

We spend many of our summer days at the beach, and it is always an adventure. But remember the time we went to Florida?

Something frightening happened.  Something that I hate to talk about. Something that strikes so much fear in me that I have horrible nightmares.

I was watching.  I mean really watching- standing beside the pool, not more than six feet away from my little boy.

He was not wearing a life jacket. He wasn't particularly brave about the water.  He spent most of his time clinging to the side of the pool.

But suddenly, on the second day, he found his comfort zone and decided to let go of the side and wander toward the middle. Just to see how far he could get.

He (nor I) never anticipated how difficult a slightly sloped bottom would prove to be.

In less than a blink of an eye he was over his head. 

And under the water.

It's true what they say.

Drowning is almost silent.

No screaming, no calling for help. No splashing.

He lost his footing, his mouth opened in surprise.

Eyes full of terror.

I watched the water being sucked into his lungs.

His little body slipped under the water, arms stretched out to me.

I dropped to my knees and reached out in vain-

I wasn't close enough to reach him from the edge of the pool.

I must have cried out. Jon was in the pool in seconds (that felt like hours) and as if by magic, connected our hands. I pulled him up onto the deck.

Those terrible moments while we waited to see the water come out and the air go in.

I almost LOST you.  

And I was faced with the truth- I did not make him wear his life jacket, I was not close enough to reach him, and I was not strong enough to pull him out by myself.

Time has passed, but the fear has not.

We knew that we couldn't keep him out of the water, that we must regularly face it again and again, calmly, and safely.

Never forget that in less than a blink of an eye, our kids can be over their heads.

And drowning really is almost silent.

It has been over a year. And here we are.

I have nervously sat tub side, pool side and lake side hoping that he cannot read my thoughts or see the fear on my face.

He has been very brave, but just a few weeks ago I realized that he is only beginning to process what could have happened that day. He said:

"Mommy, I can't breathe water.  It will kill me."

Somewhere along the line his therapy has become my therapy.  And we've come a long way.  There is definitely less fear, but this was a terribly difficult lesson to learn.

Do you make your children wear life jackets when they are near water?  Have you learned how to perform CPR, and what you are supposed to do in a near drowning situation?

Caring For Kids has some great information on water safety- be sure to check it out!


  1. Am I missing something here, why weren't you in the water with your child who couldn't swim?

    I worked as a lifeguard for 10 years and have seen parents who were 'really watching- standing beside the pool, not more than six feet away', and miss their non-swimmer go under and then me/co-workers running full tilt down the deck to pull the kids out... I don't care what you say about watching your kids from the deck, if you're not in the water with your kids giving them 100% of your attention you are asking for problems. If the kids (especially non-swimmers) are in the water so are you, just my two cents.

    1. The only thing that you may be missing is that he ALSO WAS NOT WEARING A LIFE JACKET.

      The point of the post is just that. I DID NOT THINK. I did everything wrong that day- I was not in the pool with my non-swimmer. I let him explore it on his own, while I stood on the deck, thinking that everything was totally within my control. No worries, the pool was only 8 ft across. No worries, there were 4 adults present. No worries, everything will be just fine, he's just getting used to the water. No worries, it's not over his head there.

      Sometimes, sharing our most horrible moments helps others who might find themselves in similar situations. My negligence that day could easily have cost the life of my child, which I am fully aware of today, but it did not cross my mind until I could not reach him that day. My hope in sharing this story is that others do not neglect the importance of water safety.

      Thank you for taking the time to read and comment on the post. And thank you also for being there as a lifeguard for those in need.

    2. That must have been a hard day and sharing your store will hopefully help others.

      Just remember even with a lifejacket on a person can still drown, they are just there to help prevent and cannot guarantee safty. The best thing you can promote is to have parents/guardians in the water with their kids, especially when they can't swim. If you can't get in the water, then get them in lessons at least they will get exposure to water and learn to swim in a supervised environment.

      All the best.