I've been writing this blog in my head for the last 24 hours or so. It's one I truly never thought I'd have to write, but the funny thing about parenting is that no matter how prepared you think you are nothing can ever prepare you completely.
As most of you know I have two boys, Levi who is 5 and Luca who is 2 1/2. I also happen to be 8 months pregnant with another boy coming in 7 weeks. Nobody could prepare me for how different my boys would be... Levi is my constant worrier. He is and has always been very cautious and concerned. He doesn't like to get hurt and carries many fears. He is sweet, calm and gentle most of the time. Luca couldn't be more different. He is fearless and has always been a risk taker. He has never met a stranger and will try anything at least twice or until he hurts himself and then he still might try again! With his amazing, outgoing, delicious personality comes sometimes scary, reckless behavior that scares the crap out of me as his mother.
In the big picture their different personalities don't even matter, the story I'm telling you today could happen to any one of our kids no matter how prepared we are or they are. Last night was an eye opening experience for me and I hope it makes you open your eyes a little more also.
Father's Day was going pretty well yesterday. We spent the morning at my Aunt and Uncle's having brunch and swimming and then the boys both rested afterwards giving this pregnant mommy some much needed down time before we loaded back up to go to my Sister in law's for more swimming and dinner.
Both of my boys have had survival swimming lessons in summers past and they were set to start their refresher lessons today, the monday after Father's Day. I had been noticing that Luca was taking more risks in the pool in the last week and jumping in before letting an adult know so I had decided that before we started the lessons again he would have to wear a puddle jumper in the pool unless we were in just one on one.
Anyways, when I got to my inlaws I told everyone up front that he had been jumping in and made sure everyone knew that he would need to wear the puddle jumper for safety. I will start out by saying there were 10 of us at the pool. 6 adults, 2 teenagers and the two little boys. At this point in the story I will only be referring to the other adults as adults. I won't be labeling them or even giving their genders because it could have been any of us in each location and the last thing I want to do is assign blame... We all went home last night knowing that it was in some part our "fault" or our "mistake" even though in truth it was an accident.
So late in the afternoon Luca got out of the pool with one adult and went to the patio table to have a snack. Shortly there after Levi and I went inside to get changed. At this point there was one adult and one teenager in the pool and three adults sitting at the patio table with Luca. The other adult and teen were inside the house with us. As I was getting levi dressed the adult that was in the pool came into the house to change leaving the teen in the pool and luca and 3 adults at the table. As levi stood up after getting dressed he looked out the window and screamed the most terrifying thing he has ever said, "Luca is at the bottom of the pool he is drowning!" My heart sank... We ran as fast as we could outside to find the lone teenager in the pool saving Luca's life. She had heard the splash and thought it was levi but when nobody returned to the surface she swam to help. At this point the adults at the table still had no idea what had happened...
We are not sure how long Luca was under the water what felt like hours was probably less than a minute. When we got him out he coughed up a bunch of water and was clearly distressed but quickly gained his composure. And in usual Luca fashion was more concerned with where his goggles went than being scared of what had just happened. We watched him all night long for any other signs of breathing trouble, but he seemed fine. If the teenager hadn't been there....or if Levi had not seen Luca at the bottom...I could be telling you an entirely different story today. I still can barely discuss it without getting physically ill. We later discovered that when Luca got out for the snack the adult had taken off the life vest so that he would be more comfortable. And when he was finished eating he just got up from the table and jumped into the water. The adults were talking and never noticed. It didn't matter that there were more adults than kids at the pool yesterday or that we had put him into the life vest while we were swimming... He still ended up at the bottom of the pool in seconds.
Here are the lessons we learned from yesterday...
When we are at the pool there has to be strong communication about who is watching each child.
If adults are sitting at a table outside their chairs need to be facing the pool at all times and really there should be an adult in the pool if kids have access to said pool.
Looking back we should have not introduced the puddle jumper again because it gave us both too much security. I relaxed too much thinking he had it on and he also felt so secure in it that when he jumped in he expected it to catch him.
And in future years the boys will take their refresher course before the swimming season begins.
We are so lucky. At least two other families in America were not as lucky yesterday and those are just the stories that made the news. I'm going to guess that their day started out much like ours did. We thought we were prepared... We thought that we were protecting them... But at the end of the day mistakes were made, accidents happened and not everyone is able to give you a happily ever after today.
Please, please I'm begging you...establish pool rules before swimming EVERY day! Assign buddies so that everyone knows their role and continue communicating with each other throughout the day as plans change. When any person, child or adult, goes inside they should notify everyone else so that every body is accounted for at all times. Lock the gates around your pool. Kids are crafty they can almost always find a way in...at least make it as difficult as possible. And lastly hug your kids, realize that everyday is not guaranteed. And none of us are immune to tragedy we are just lucky that today is not our tragic day!
Just some scary facts from the YMCA's website.