Retelling this story gives me serious shivers and funnily enough, close on a month later, I still think about what happened and still have those could haves and what if thoughts about the situation every now and again. What made me think about it more over the last few days was hearing a story at work from my colleagues about someone who works in the same office as us. In a nutshell (and I don’t know the details – this is just what I heard from two of my colleagues), this father was sitting outside with his 3year old daughter at the poolside at their home. She was on the step of the pool, the mother was inside busy with housework or cooking or whatever, and he was watching her while on his cellphone. He looked up and found her in the pool – she drowned right there in front of him! So sad. It must have happened so quickly!! And this poor man with this guilt now and sadness – I’m sure he has a lot of should have thoughts right now. Fortunately, I’m not in the same boat but had God not had his angels looking down on Ethan on the 15th of December 2015, the situation could have turned out totally different.
The biggest mommy fail of my life! On the 15th, the day before the public holiday, we had a complex braai – which has now become an annual tradition – at the pool area. I think that the main reason that this venue is chosen is because there are so many children in the complex. Ranging from Riley who’s the smallest up to the oldest being around 12/13, it’s the one thing that all the kids seem to love – SWIMMING!! And so, with the weather being as hot as it was, the evening seemed perfect for just that. The parents would all be around watching and enjoying each other’s company while braaing, and the kids would be swimming.
As the hubster wouldn’t be home in time for the start of the braai – 6pm – I decided to go ahead with both kids and we agreed that he’d meet us there when he got home. I got home after work, spent a bit of QT with Riley and then started preparing for the evening. We had decided not to braai, so all I had to do was get Ethan’s swim gear and a change of clothes ready, and prepare Riley’s dinner and a drink to take with us. I was being my super awesome mum self (:-)), mentally ticking off everything I needed, when Ethan ran into the house and said that his friend was already in his costume ready to swim. He asked if he could swim too to which I said of course, I had everything packed, and we were leaving soon. I put his cozzie on, then gave him the lowdown of how the evening was going to go…as I was alone with both kids, I expected him to listen to me at.all.times. He was not to do as the other kids in the pool did, whatever mum said was the rule. He was not to do anything I didn’t want him to do. He wasn’t allowed in the pool until I arrived. Maybe too many rules for a 4year old?! Anyhoo…he agreed, quickly changed and rushed off on his motorbike saying that he’d meet me there.
I grabbed a soiled nappy to throw out in the outside bin (which is at the back of our unit), locked up, and followed him out the door. I threw the nappy in the bin and then I ran back inside to grab our hats because I had forgotten that the theme was mad hatters!! As I was going back inside, I saw the neighbour who’d been busy setting up since we arrived home. I asked whether the kids were already at the pool to which he replied something like – yes, Ethan’s already dived in and is swimming. We both had a little giggle because we both know that Ethan is so poepbang that there’d be no chance he’d be swimming without his armbands, let alone without me. I grabbed the hats and made my way to the pool. Half way there (the pool is like 200 metres from our house), the neighbours child came running saying that Ethan almost drowned. Initially, I thought they were joking. Heaven alone knows why they’d joke about something like that, but I didn’t immediately panic. I think I may have even laughed until the little girl said that her father had to save him.
My heart started beating at a thousand beats a second and the short walk to the pool felt like forever. I maneuvered Riley’s pram down the two steps in a record pace all the while looking at Ethan – wet from head to toe – sheepishly looking at me unsure if what he’d done was wrong or not I guess. Had Riley not been with me, I would probably given him a thrashing of note! I was so relieved to see him standing there, breathing and alive.
So the story was that Ethan thought he’d show his bestie that he could jump into the pool…this full well knowing that he can’t swim without floats!! [May I just add at this time that his bestie can’t swim either and was quietly sitting on the step, not wanting to be a brave heart like my child]. So he stood on the step and jumped in. Easy peasy. Until he couldn’t do anything in the water, the kids started screaming that Ethan’s drowning, the neighbour scaled the fence around the pool area, jumped into the pool fully clothed and pulled him out.
After all of this happened, the neighbour still proceeded to have a good old chuckle and assure me that it was “normal”, and that all three of his kids had done this more than once – even in the sea – with somebody having to “save them”. I was not hearing any of it. I gave Ethan a stern talking to and after putting his floats on, had to coax him gently back into the pool – the last thing I wanted was for this experience to scar him and he want to never go into the pool again!
The hubster arrived and I retold the story. Well, the little I knew of it. He was both angry and upset. Angry at Ethan of course, but also upset that the child doesn’t listen and this is what he keeps telling me. It’s not about not listening for small things like pick up your clothes, but the principal. I had instructed him not to go into the pool without me and he didn’t listen. A minute later and who knows what could have happened. We sat around the pool for about an hour making small talk with the other neighbours in sheer disbelief and when I went back to the house to take Riley in to get him done for bedtime, I balled my eyes out. Again, the could haves and what ifs got the better of me.
I thank God that He was watching over Ethan that day. I thank Him that there were people around to help, that it wasn’t more serious than it turned out and that my boy was absolutely fine after nearly drowning. The thing is that these things happen so quickly! And to be quite honest, I’m not even sure whether Ethan grasps the seriousness of what happened. The first thing on the list for extra murals this year is of course…swimming.