Thursday, August 27, 2009

I Turned My Head, I Blinked My Eye

Today is another day of parental gratitude. Of thanking lucky stars, guardian angels, whomever might be listening. Whatever is responsible for the tap on the shoulder. The turn of my head.

We have been giving LittleBird swimming lessons in our neighbor's pool. She does a great job with the water wings, but in the shallow end we take them off and let her practice swimming without them. She can easily stand, and I am always right there. Always.

Today, I had one additional child to watch for just a brief period. There was an argument over whose turn it was to hold onto the water noodle. As I delegated toys and time, I kept my eye on LittleBird. I answered a question. One insignificant question. I looked up, and LittleBird had lifted the rope and was headed to the ladder. Precisely where the pool begins to deepen. She slipped under the water. Tried to get herself up. And failed.

I was there in the time it took to blink. I snatched her up from those cloudy depths. Her eyes were huge. She looked at me and didn't know whether or not she was afraid. She had not swallowed any water. She was not panicked or out of breath. But she understood.

The look in her eye changed to mirror my face. She understood.

I asked if she was okay, and she told me yes. I explained to her as calmly as I could about staying in the shallow end. The awful part? She explained right back at me that she had to go to the bathroom, and she had gone to the ladder to get out of the pool to towel off to go into the house to use the toilet. Just like we had taught her.

She has been afraid in retrospect, and this is a good thing. She needs that healthy respect of the water.

I have been afraid in retrospect, as well. I constantly doubt my ability to parent. Am I going to fuck them up? Am I teaching them what they need to know? Am I going to miss that key moment and lose my child?

I used to have terrible nightmares about the water when we lived in Tahoe. I think I just earned myself Round Two.


Coal Miner's Granddaughter said...

This made me breathless just thinking about it. It's why I couldn't take all three kids down to the big neighborhood pool this year. Just me with three toddlers. Disaster. You literally need two eyes on every kid.

I'm so glad she's OK. You be OK, too, darlin'.

faemom said...

Wow. I'm so glad you caught her in time. And that is a good lesson for her to learn and relearn.
We had a moment with Sean because he thinks if brother can swim so can he. Unfortunately the kid is fearless, even after facing a watery demise.

A Free Man said...

They can get into trouble so quick, can't they. A blink and trouble. Glad she's OK.

Maybe, you know, peeing in the pool isn't that bad a thing?

Creepy said...

I had a similar experience with Graham recently in a pool. It earned him a healthy fear.

Oh, and yes, you are totally going to fuck your kids up. We all will, we only have to wonder to what extent.

Joe said...

I worry that I'm the opposite. That I don't worry ENOUGH about Tyler. Actually, I know I don't. He asked about my electronics tester today, so I sat him down and let him touch two connectors together to make it beep (two very pointy/sharp connectors). I decided I wanted a glass of milk, so I got up and left him ALONE in the other room with two very sharp metal objects. A boy who climbs things, falls down, and runs with objects.

It made me sick when I realized what I did. Physically ill.

So Not Wishy Washy said...

Phew. That's all.

And what Joe said.

I know I'm safe and sometimes question whether I'm too tough on my Butter. However, I have also watched him use a power drill (successfully) as well as hammer many a nail with a hammer that would easily break your hand.

Like you, I'm just hoping I'm doing a good job so that my kid grows up well-adjusted, vastly experienced, and compassionate.

Now go read your email.

Patois said...


You have described in utter detail my fears. Particularly with the big ole pool we have in the back.