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Thursday, June 19, 2014

Not On My Watch

We just returned from an epic vacation. If your idea of epic is taking four boys through security in an airport and flying with them in a packed airplane on a flight that leaves at 6:30 a.m.  Or if holding your 4 year old's penis in a water bottle you just had to chug because the flight attendant wouldn't let you get up from your seat because it was during take off, even if it is a potty emergency. Or if a series of amusement parks and standing in line for hours in the Florida summer heat to watch your child dangling from a roller coaster propelling through the air is your idea of adventure. All while seeing black spots from dehydration because you refuse to pay $4.00 for a toddler size bottle of water. If that is your idea of epic, then yes, we had an epic vacation.    I'm not an amusement park girl, mainly because roller coasters scare the crap out of me. I get motion sick while standing still in the ocean. I'm afraid of heights, I get nervous on a step ladder.  But all fun aside, an incident happened that left me frozen in fear.

We had just arrived to my brother-in-laws house in Orlando.  They graciously open their home to us for an entire week.  They have two boys. That makes six boys total, four adults…not enough. No amount of adults is ever enough for six boys.  All of us were sitting at the pool. The boys were all jumping in, playing, burning off energy.  Finally, after a day of traveling we were able to sit back and relax.
Before we left both of us made a point to reconnect to the here and now.  We (okay, I) am attached to my phone. I know its a bad habit, that is why I made the effort to not let it be a distraction.

We were laughing, having a good time catching up, all while all four of us faced the pool.  After a few minutes it occurred to me that Oscar  was in the same spot in the center of the pool.  He had floaties on, and his cousin who is the same age splashed around in his floaties.  I called his name to see if he was okay.  He didn't respond.  But he was looking at me.  My tone got a little panicked and all the adults recognized it.  He was literally 8 feet away from me.  I just kept calling his name, thinking he was just zoning out.  Before I knew what was happening Don jumped in the pool fully clothed to grab him.

I froze.   My son was starting to drown and four adults were right there clueless to it.  I am writing this to educate anyone who reads it.  They say drowning is silent.  It is.  He had floaties on, but one had a slow leak. He is not a great swimmer.  Hence the floaties.  Although his nose and eyes were above the water, his mouth wasn't. He is four.  He didn't think to breath. He just stopped and he too, froze.

After Don got him out he began to cough and cry. The poor little guy was just as scared as we were.  The thing that haunts me, is that he was looking right at me unable to communicate he was in trouble, and I was sitting there laughing and having fun.

Trusting any floatation devise to keep your child from drowning is like trusting your arm instead of  a seatbelt to keep your child in the passenger seat as you slam on the brakes. You may know this already. I thought I did.

We were all shaken.  Even four adults supervising, was not enough.  It literally takes two seconds. I would research it for you, but you can do it yourself. I can't bear to see just how close we actually were just yet.   I wasn't even looking at my phone.  I may not have noticed if I had been.  Hell, I may have been taking a picture. Viewing my children through a lens instead of my own eyes.

On a day to day basis I am constantly trying to capture the moment and missing it all at the same time.

Oscar was fine.  It could have been a lot worse. A lot.  I immediately went to Target and purchased a better flotation device. Not that I will rely on it, but at least it will be functioning.  On the way there I had a complete breakdown.  That scared me more than any roller coaster ever could.   Just like when a coaster ride is over and you still feel like you are on it, the after shocks were vibrating through my body at such a strong intensity that the only way to release it was to cry. My mind knew everything was fine, but my body was taking awhile to catch up.

My point is this. Please think of me when you are at a pool with your child.  A phrase I say often in regards to harm done to my children or accidents,which Don teases me about is "Not on my watch".  Now I just need to live up to it, and really watch.  In this case it may have saved his life.

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