Early last week the news carried a story about a man who drowned while saving his three year old nephew from a pond where they were swimming. I immediately wondered why someone who wasn't a swimmer would try saving someone else from the water.
How naive I was.
Jack and I have been taking a baby swim class at the YMCA. I thought it would be a fun thing to do, and I hoped that he'd enjoy the water (as opposed to screaming in terror and being angry at me for a full day, as he did the first time I put his little feet in his kiddie pool). He has really been a trooper through the whole class so far - he kicks and paddles like a champ, and he has even gone underwater without a single, solitary waaah.
Dan calls him our little Navy Seal.
|Jack with some broad who has no business being in a swimsuit.|
As for me, I'll be honest: I'm not doing so great. I was fine for all of the fun and games part - I can do the pool version of "The Wheels on the Bus" like I'm auditioning for Idol, but last Saturday we had a lesson on safely towing a baby out of deep water.
I couldn't do it. I sank like a damn stone.
The first lesson was a sort of backfloat, with baby in our arms, over our chest. The idea is, obviously, to keep baby's head above water at all times, and ideally, to keep your own head above water most of the time. I couldn't do it. I kicked a few times and down I went, stopping just short of Jack going under with me. As you may imagine, he was not a fan of that experiment.
The next lesson involved a scissor kick while having the baby straddle your hip. Again, I was underwater in a matter of seconds. By now Jack was sensing my frustration and getting himself worked up too. He wasn't crying, but he was very squirmy which did not help matters at all.
The third alternative was to place baby on your back, holding one of his arms over your shoulder, leaving both legs and one arm to swim. I couldn't even safely put Jack on my back. It just wasn't happening. And by this time, he was mad. I was frustrated. We were done.
The only thing I could do was tread water for a short period. But that's only going to help in a rescue situation if there's something there to rescue me and Jack in a matter of moments.
You'd think it wouldn't be so hard to swim with a baby, but I found it impossible. And that worries me. All I can do at this point is keep trying, keep practicing and of course practice water safety above all else. Here's a great resource for child and infant water safety. I still need to learn infant CPR - I have no excuse for not knowing that. Moms and dads - all caregivers and potential caregivers - pledge to yourselves to take a class. We'll all be better people for having done so.
One thing I will never take for granted is the difficulty involved in a rescue situation. I hope I'll never need to experience that firsthand.