11 February 2009

Water Rats

I took the kids to the pool today. And there was only one thing that could have made that trip more difficult: Diarrhoea. But since that didn't occur, I'll tentatively consider the trip a success.

Talk about exhausting! My kids are Water Rats, loving the water and desperate to be as independent as they can be. There's only one problem: they're not safe enough to be independent.

There's a deep end, there's a shallow end, and it's heated. It's probably too hot for swimming laps, but it's perfect for those doing hydrotherapy, those with injuries and those with small children who get cold quickly. Because of the many people with disabilities who use the pool, there's a long pool-length ramp that starts at the deep end and goes down towards the shallow end with hand-rails on either side, getting deeper all the way.

Smoochy Girl no longer wants to be touched. It's a sign of weakness. She screams "No! Go WAY! I dooit!" so loud that elderly people in the pool look my way and smile at me. So I let her 'dooit' herself, and off she floats happily with her floaties, bobbing around.

Then: "Howp! HOWP! HOWP MEE!"

Sigh. Seems she can't quite 'dooit' all by herself then. I rush over so people don't think I'm not supervising her and try to help her.

"Go WAY!"


Sonny is really quite safe with his floaties on and I feel quite confident of his skills in the water. But of course, at nearly-four, he 'doesn't need' floaties anymore, does he? Problem: without them, he will drown.

Today he became adamant that he didn't need floaties and he wanted me to take them off. Well, I decided it was probably okay if the two kids stayed close together and within arm's reach of me, so I took them off for him and OWWW! That was Sonny swimming from the side of the pool towards me, and grabbing a chunk of grabbable flesh on my arm and pinching hard while he struggled to take a breath.

It's an interesting phenomenon that two children, who at home are compelled to need the toys each other is playing with, compelled to co-habit the same space and who both need to squeeze together to be the first in any activity, all of a sudden need to be as far away from each other as possible once they're both in need of arm's-reach supervision from one tired, heavy, pregnant parent.

Smoochy climbed out of the pool herself and took off at a run to the deep end. Sonny remained in the shallow end, swimming from one safe spot to another with a startling propensity to start sinking between the beginning and end-points.

Should I rush off and grab her? Should I stay with him?

And this began my morning of making snap decisions regarding which of my offspring was in most danger of drowning.

At one point, they both took off to the deep end and as I hurried to catch them, I saw Sonny making moves to jump into the deepest part of the pool. He often does this and is perfectly safe with his floaties on. Without them, he would go down, down, down.

Yelling to him not to jump in because he had no floaties only made me look more out-of control, but I did it. I reached them both and as I was corraling Sonny and persuading him to come back to the shallow end, Smoochy herself started wading down the long ramp towards the shallow end.

Sonny, who won't accept assistance if a more self-sufficient method can be followed decided to make his way to the shallow end by walking along and holding onto the hand-rail that separated the deep end from the shallowest point of the ramp.

So here we were again: Smoochy with floaties walking down the ramp into rapidly deepening water, Sonny without floaties whose body was fully out of the water but who was performing daredevil stunts without thought to the risk of death by drowning.

While I stood there trying to work out who was in the most danger, the question was answered by Sonny letting go of the handrail and falling into 6 foot deep water, going down, down, down.

I jumped in and pulled him towards the surface, by which time he was nearly at the surface himself, reaching for the side of the pool. The scare was enough to make him realise that Mummy was right, after all.

Sonny decided that Mummy wasn't the only person on whom he could rely to save him from drowning after feats of independent non-floaties swimming. He started chatting to an elderly man (who confided to me that he couldn't swim.) Thereafter he chose to launch from the ramp towards this gentleman as he walked in the shallower water, expecting to be caught. The man didn't know what to do. I explained to Sonny that people would get a fright if they saw an unknown boy swiming towards them, and would most likely get out of the way, not catch him.

"It's alright Mum, I'll just say, 'I'm Sonny,'" he said, as if introducing himself would then allow him to expect strangers to catch him.

"No sweetheart, seriously, people will think that you're OWWWW!!" - this as he grabbed another easily-grabbed piece of his mother - okay it was my boob - and squeezed hard as he tried to save himself yet again.

Is this the last swimming I'll do with my kids? I can't keep this up as I get more heavily pregnant, and once I have three children, they will out number my arms.


Crazy Sister said...

Oh boy, been here, done this. The constant assessment of Who's More Likely To Drown In The Next 5 Seconds really takes it out of you.

We've had so many near misses. And I currently have claw-like scratches on my side where a kid latched onto my 'flab' with only fingernails.

Givinya De Elba said...

Now I know you're lying. You ain't got no flab.

Crazy Sister said...

I can definitely "pinch an inch", but I keep it there for a reason - so that I can reach up without my sides splitting open and spilling my intestines out.

Givinya De Elba said...

Well my intestines are even safer than yours then.

Dee from Downunder said...

My intestines are safe too.... LOL you guys...

I was going to say... I helprd at the prep swimming lesson yesterday, half could swim, half could not and I think my head was constantly swivelling 360 degrees trying to keep anyone from drowing.
i was exhaused afterward

Jen said...

I know this boob grab all too well. But my kids seem to do it when not in the pool.

BTW, LOVE the pictures!

Heather said...

I'm pretty sure that *my* intestines could withstand small arms gunfire, if not actual heavy mortar attack. ;)

For Kiddo, we have a different kind of floaty, called a "bubble" - it is an air-filled float that straps around her mid abdomen, so the bubble is on her back. She feels more independent without things on her arms and I feel better knowing she's slightly less likely to drown with it on... Also, it can be adjusted with more or less air for correspondingly more or less buoyancy) (hm that spelling doesn't look right but you know what I mean).

Anyhow, perhaps that might be a thought for Sonny so he *feels* more independent but is still kept safer from the going down down down down down feats of daring?

Stranded in Stepford said...

Hysterical! Just think. . . next year you'll be longing for the days when there were only two to save :)

GreenJello said...

My intestines are very safe, too. LOL!

Maybe it's time for swimming lessons for them-- let someone else keep them from drowning. :)

Sassy Britches said...

Eeek! I'm stressed and tired just reading this; I cannot imagine how it must be for you! I agree with everyone else...swimming lessons and the backside floatie!

Mrs. Tantrum said...

Definately swimming lessons for Sonny...I am not sure that Smoochy is ready. BUT I know here we have swimsuits with the floaties in them. She would look adorable in it. And then not be in danger of drowning all that often...With Sonny able to swim on his own then you'll only have Thingamababy and Smoochy to rush after, and Sonny to keep an eye on.

CynthiaK said...

Yes, swimming with two young 'uns is crazy. Swimming with three is even better! Oh, the fun you'll have...

Tracy P. said...

You're braver than I am--I'm pretty sure I never took two by myself. I would have been a wreck! Isn't independence lovely?

stefanie said...

I'm exhausted from reading that. Hope they took good naps afterward. They are very cute, for rats!

Swift Jan said...

THank goodness my kids are terrifeid of the water!! They will only play in the water if the can touch the bottom.
If they cant touch the bottom, they FREAK out. Even if we are holding them. Its a little frustrating actually.
But since reading your story I am feeling a lot better that they have fear.
My hat goes off to you!! I cannot believe you did that all by yourself!!! Brave woman!

Swift Jan said...

Oh & I wonder if one of those floatie vests would be better for sonny? He may feel free-er wearing one of those. I think Wahl (is that the brand) do a really good one. Jami Hey wore one for quite a while & he liked it much better than arm floaties.

You know my mum made me wear a ring floatie well into primary school years *insert embarrased face here* LOL

Joy in the Burbs... said...

I have to tell you swimming lessons for my kids was the best money I ever spent. That is exhausting and nerve wracking trying to keep up with two in a huge pool like that. You are brave.
Glad they spared you the diahrea and any floaters in the pool.


Hairline Fracture said...

This is why I hated taking my kiddos swimming last summer. Miss Pink didn't want the floaties but even with swimming lessons she needed my supervision. And Mr. Blue didn't want to be in the water...unless he decided to just jump in all of a sudden. Sigh.

Amanda said...

I don't think I ever took my two swimming on my own. Too scary!

I'm a bit disturbed that there seems to be a killer whale swimming alongside your son in the second photo (sorry, I always seem to make wildlife-related comments on your blog!). ;-)

Cazbam said...

can't say i have had the same experience...haven't got any kiddies.

But i can say that i never gave my parents this trouble. I hated the water as a kid. But now i love it :D