Those of you who have been reading here for awhile know that one of my biggest safety fears is water. We have a large, in-ground pool in our backyard and this is honestly the first year since before we had kids that I haven’t looked at it as a big, giant hazard just waiting to swallow up one of my kids. We’re really enjoying it this year, especially since July has been so hot.
At 9, Lisa is really enjoying jumping in, swimming around and diving for objects at the bottom of the shallow end. She’s allowed to have friends over, but no more than 2 at a time.
At 7, Bart swims around the shallow end and will dive down for objects, but puts on his lifejacket for swimming and jumps into the deep end. He’s allowed to have 1 friend over. I tell the parents about the depth of our pool and let them decide about the need for lifejackets, floaties, etc. They all come with one or the other.
At 4, Maggie does not enter the pool fence without her lifejacket. She’s still too short to stand in the shallow end and she’s not a confident enough swimmer to not panic if she accidentally fell in. Her friends don’t come over yet without a parent.
Maggie likes to test the limits, and was insisting that she could sit at the pool edge with just her feet in without a lifejacket. She was adamant and it was becoming a battle every time we went out to the pool. I finally sat her down and told her the story about Bart falling in the pool when he was 4. She listened intently and kept asking, with wide eyes, “and then what happened?” The part that really convinced her was when I said, “and then I cried and cried because I was so scared for Bart.” Her will melted and she has not questioned the lifejacket rule since.
When we take them to a lake, we go in with them. If there’s any chance for an undertow, they are not allowed to go in past their waists and all three wear lifejackets. Our favourite beaches have lifeguards and roped-off swimming areas.
Over-protective? Probably. Am I teaching them to fear the water? Yep. That’s the thing: I think they SHOULD have a healthy fear of the water. Hopefully it will make them more alert, more aware when they’re out of my sight and too old for my rules, but not too old to break my heart if the unthinkable happened.
It’s National Drowning Prevention Week here in Canada. Have you seen this article? It’s definitely worth a read.