Babies Don’t Float

KenmoreRedGrillThis past Sunday was Father’s Day and my wife made sure I had a relaxing weekend because she’s the best wife in the world.  I joked a few weeks back that Mother’s Day should be renamed to “Wive’s Day” since my kids are 1 and 3…so I did all the Mother’s Day activities and gifts.  Well, Kate made it a splendid Husband’s Day Weekend.  Saturday I got to sleep in, the boys (and Kate) got me a new grill, Kate baked butterscotch cookies, I played golf with my dad, slept in Sunday, had a pool day with my family and my folks, watched the Heat lose the NBA Finals (I don’t like the Heat), and a fun night with friends.  But…lets go back to the pool day.

Max (3) is very much a fish and can navigate around the pool and other bodies of water just fine with his safety vest on.  He’s fearless.  On Sunday he declared that we was ready to jump off the diving board without me there to catch him and that he wanted to go under water.  This kid loves the pool but hates going under water so I was shocked.  Sure enough…Father’s Day was the day he started doing cannonballs off the diving board into the deep end with no issues around going under water and popping back up to the surface.  Awesome.  Dodge (1) was in my dad’s arms gently splashing at the water and still figuring out the whole pool thing.  I’m pretty sure I ate a pound of cheese & crackers since I skipped lunch and the ladies caught up on art gossip.  When the boys climbed out of the pool for snacks and drinks all flotation devises were shed and the parents and grandparents went on high alert keeping close eye on the edge of the pool.

Then it happened.

Max sat down on the edge of the shallow end and stuck his feet in the water.  Dodge, naturally, did the same.  They began splashing each other with their feet.  Dodge decided he’d stand on top of the water like a puddle to splash Max better.  Everyone saw it and shouted out as Dodge began scooting his little booty into the pool.  I calmly took off my shirt, emptied my pockets, and jumped into the pool as Dodge fell in with a splash…and sank to the bottom of the shallow end.  I scooped him up and raised him out of the water where I greeted him with a smile.  He coughed and looked around in shock but was happy to see I was smiling and there to hug him.  We swam for a minute and then I placed him on the steps where he played in the very shallow water then exited the pool and left the edge alone for the rest of the day.

A healthy fear of water.

Summer in Lake George
Summer in Lake George

Kate and I love swimming but we understand it has dangers.  I’ve cracked my skull open running next to the pool and fallen in, I’ve been hit by a JetSki and knocked out, I’ve tangled my feet up in rope 10 feet under water, I’ve had my regulator stop working at 40 feet while scuba diving, I’ve breathed in water playing water polo, and I’ve lost my bearings swimming at night.  Yet every summer I dive head first into Lake George like an otter and happily swim along the rocky bottom shores at about 7 feet.  Its my happy place.  Both boys have had safe accidents in the pool where they learned water can be dangerous.  Max’s was almost the exact same scenario just over a year ago.  Instead of grabbing them at the edge and risking banging their heads into the wall I let them fall in and realize they don’t float.  It is an important thing to know – and like learning things such as the oven are “hot,” a minor and controlled “accident” is sometimes the best way to learn.  Both Max and Dodge as babies touched the oven at some point and realized that the word “hot” went with the sensation of “ouch!”  Same goes for water, they both figured out that they don’t float.

It is important to note that I don’t condone throwing kids into bodies of water or letting them sink long enough to breathe in water.  No.  I’m just saying…sometimes its good to fall in.  I fell into the duck pond as a kid and my mom let me so I’d learn to stay away from the edge.  Same thing…only no ducks and cleaner water.

To cap off the pool day Max let me show him what to do if he fell in.  He said, “Dada, I don’t float I sink.”  I agreed and asked him if I floated or sank.  He said, “You float because you are a grown up.”  I got in the pool, stopped moving my arms and legs, and sank.  Then I came up and asked him again if I floated or sank.  He asked why I sank.  I replied, “I sink.  The reason I don’t sink is because I swim.”  You could see the light bulb go off in his head and he understood why I was always trying to teach him how to swim without the life vest.  So we ditched the vest, I gave him simple instructions about what to do, and I tossed him into the pool.  He popped back up and stood in the shallow end.  The light bulb got brighter.  “Dada!  I can stand!”  He began running around in circles and found that doggy paddling got him from point A to point B faster.  He was so happy.  I got in with him and asked him to walk toward me (the deep end) and feel where it gets deeper.  He did and found the visual markers that clued him he had gone too far and returned to the safety of the shallow end.  He’s ready to learn to swim!  But that’s for another day.

Sunday, Dodge learned he didn’t float while Max learned he could stand in the pool.  Dodge learned to say “Papa” for my father which made my dad very happy.  Dodge also figured out how to give a proper kiss and began kissing all of us on the cheek.  Both my boys played very nicely with each other and while Dodge fell in the pool he was not so scared that he wouldn’t get back in.  That night I got a kiss on the cheek from Dodge before bedtime, Max during his bedtime, and Kate when we went to bed.  That’s a pretty great Father’s Day and the best gift I could ask for: My family’s affection.



No babies were harmed in the writing of this post.

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