Have you had That Moment as a parent yet? The one where time just freezes as you watch in horror as something terrible is happening to your child? Yeah, I had that last week. I think I can type about it now without crying, so here we go.
To give you a backstory to the incident, we had enrolled Jake in swim lessons a few weeks ago. He's never taken them, and we figured it was well past the time when he needed to start. When I was younger, my brother and I took swim lessons; I'm not sure exactly how old he was, maybe 5 or so, which would have made me around 9 or 10. We were in the same pool, but on different ends. Nate went under the water when he was supposed to be holding onto the wall, and no one noticed. My mom had to jump in, fully clothed, to pull him out of the water.
When I signed Jake up for the lessons, I was already feeling a lot of anxiety, because I can clearly remember the incident with my brother. But, I just put it out of my head and figured that was a freak accident---nothing like that would happen again.
When we arrived to the first lesson last week, I realized that parents have to sit waaaaaaaay up in a whole separate level of bleacher seats, nowhere near where the kids are (in order to get down to the pool, you actually have to take a staircase that's located in the hallway, down 2 flights of stairs, then down the next hallway a bit to enter the pool area) This, of course, nearly caused me to have a panic attack, thinking "OMG, what if I have to jump in??" Again, I assured myself that I was acting crazy and paranoid for no reason. What happened to my brother over 20 years ago was not the norm.
But then, just like a slow-motion movie, it really did happen. Last Thursday. I was watching him, and he was holding onto the wall, kicking his feet like he was supposed to be doing. I was at the lesson by myself because Brian was working, and Liam dropped the pen he was using to draw so I bent over to pick it up. I looked back into the pool and couldn't find Jake. My heart nearly stopped, and I scanned the pool. He wasn't out with the instructor, he wasn't on the wall. Fortunately, he was wearing a bright orange swim shirt, which I spotted IN the water. As in, he was UNDER the water. Simultaneously, the mom next to me spotted him and we both stood up and started screaming to the people down below; they didn't seem to hear right away, and other parents joined in and started yelling. Finally, a teacher spotted him after what felt like an eternity, though I know in reality, it was probably only 10 seconds or so.
He was totally fine, she pulled him up and I immediately saw him start to cough. He was pulled back to the wall, and was smiling and continued on with the rest of the lesson. My first instinct was to go down, pull him out of the water, and give the program director a piece of my mind. The director was sitting literally just FEET away from him, and didn't notice. He didn't notice that my baby had gone under the water. He had a line of probably 8 kids (all ages 4 and 5) on a wall, and he wasn't paying enough attention to see that one had gone under.
But I didn't say anything that day and I let him finish out the lesson, mainly for Jake's sake. He clearly was not affected by the incident, and I didn't want to upset him or give him a reason to be scared. So I walked past the director, and the teacher, and no one said a word to me. When we got to the car, I didn't bring it up, but Jake did. He said that he heard someone say "OK Jake, your turn to push off the wall" and so he did (they had just been practicing pushing off) but there was no one there to catch him :( He must have heard someone else's name. But again, he didn't seem to be too upset by it. Brian wanted to pull him from the lessons, which I agreed was my first reaction, too but again....I didn't want to send the wrong message to Jake. I didn't want him to be afraid of the water, or feel like he was doing something wrong by not letting him to finish the session. We agreed that I would call the athletic department of the high school that was hosting the lessons the next day, see what they had to say, and we'd go from there.
The athletic department assured me that nothing like this had ever happened before, and that there needed to be someone on the side of that pool whose only responsibility was to watch the kids on the wall, and that it shouldn't be the director (who is in charge of the whole pool, and ends up talking to parents, etc...) They assured me someone would be there that night. And there was.
We went back last night, and they had someone there on the side again. I feel that we made the right decision by letting him continue, but that does not stop me from practically not breathing the entire time he's in the water, I'm concentrating so hard on making sure I can keep track of him. It's still bugging me that the director hasn't approached me about what happened, but whatever. At this point, I'm just grateful that he's fine, he's not traumatized (though clearly, I'm traumatized from the event, but better me than him) and that I saw him in the water. All that I keep thinking about is, what if I had looked away longer than I did? What if he wasn't wearing that bright orange swim shirt and didn't spot him so quickly??
Ok, enough with that stuff---again, I'm grateful that he's fine and not afraid. Only 3 more lessons.