9 April 2015


Something happened a few weeks ago during a routine swimming lesson. Charlie could have drowned. Nearly did/ could have.
Didn't. Thats all that matters.

He recently started his swimming lessons and absolutely adores that half an hour. The water, his swimming teacher, the cuddles and ice block that follow. Its been good, including his absolute blind trust of the entire process every single week. Mine too.

The other week things went wrong for a moment. Now I want to say that his instructor is amazing with children and both my other boys have had him very happily and successfully.

The class is usually Charlie and one other child. Sometimes the other child doesn't show up but on this day he was there. He is a good little paddler whereas Charlie will enthusiastically throw himself into the water repeatedly and attempt to swim like a seahorse. They start out doing various activities in the pool end where the kids can stand on tip toes and towards the end of the class the instructor takes them up the far end where it is deeper. This class he was trying to get Charlie to lift his bottom when kicking and asked Charlie to stand on the little ledge while he did a lap assisting the other boy. Now usually the instructor would have been facing charlie because he was moving backwards with the other child but this time the supervisor came to the far pool edge to talk to him so his back was turned.

Charlie jumped in. About two inches of the top of his head was sticking up out of the water and his arms were going like crazy. I thought shit not now! Then, its ok, he'll get up. But he didn't. I kept waiting for him to get himself up-he was so close to the ledge. I thought.....the supervisor is looking right at him....but she didn't notice. I thought Paul is going to check on him, but he was talking. I thought the instructor in the next lane (just over a metre away) would grab him but she didn't notice either. Paul was making his way back up Charlies end now but had his back to him because he was facing the little boy. It was all taking far too long. The pool was full and nobody had noticed a small thrashing body. All this time I was swinging between don't be dramatic and for gods sake someone grab him. All these thoughts seemed to take such a long time. Then it was as though my brain switched on and a voice in my head shouted HE COULD DROWN. And I sprinted. Up the side of the pool I ran intending to hurl myself in fully clothed. As I got there I shouted the instructors name. He was beside Charlie and scooping him up faster than I could get over the railings and it was over. Charlie didn't make a sound but rubbed his eyes and clung to Paul and I turned to walk back to my spot not wanting to scare Charlie by making a fuss. I could not breath. Vomit threatened and I sat down and calmed myself. Every single adult in the pool area was staring at me in absolute horror. I have never experienced that terror before. Grabbing a child out of a rip at the beach or out of the path of an oncoming car were as much as I'd had with the other two. All our pool experiences have been good.

After the lesson I dried and dressed him and we got an ice block. He was very calm and quiet. I bumped in to Henrys old instructor who now partly runs the swim school. I must have been grey because he asked what had happened and with no condemnation I told him- still absolutely in shock myself. He was horrified. He asked if Charlie had cried and I said no because honestly I think Charlie thought-oh good someone got me.

I think Charlie was under for at least 30 seconds. I went over and over and over it instead of sleeping properly for several nights. After the lesson we went to the post office and he went a little panicky. Just a moment of after shock and then fine. We talked with him vary calmly about his safety regarding the pool and jumping in and I talked about it with him and his instructor the following week as well as by then he would talk about being under and nobody coming.

Do you know what I can't get out of my head? Thank god I wasn't on my phone. That was the difference between scooping him up and cuddling him or dragging him out. I wasn't on instagram, checking my emails, pinterest or texting a friend. I so often am. In a time where schools run classes to make parents aware of kids on social media and there are cartoons about kids tolerating their parents attempts, I am all over it like a rash. As I say to the boys "get off your device" I am standing there clutching mine. I had noticed the instructor turn his attention away from my child and I thought I had better watch him. So why was I slow to act? Is it inconceivable that something terrible will actually happen to our child or is it a don't make a fuss reflex? I cannot answer that because I do not understand my reaction other that saying it was all quite surreal. And yes I think our children are so completely a part of us and our lives and who we are that it is inconceivable that anything might take them away.

We had swimming again today and Charlie was happy and bubbly and his instructor was wonderful as he always is. From that day though, as much as I trust the safety of a swimming lesson I am also aware that it isn't necessarily so.

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