Thursday, July 30, 2009

Danger Lurks in Even Mere Seconds

I've always wondered how kids can drown in public pools with lifeguards at watch. I've always wondered how things can happen in seconds.

I witnessed (almost) both this past weekend. And once again, my guardian angel was there with me.

Seena had a b-day party at a friend's pool this past weekend.

The first incident was with another boy we’ll call BoyL. He’s 5 and has taken swimming lessons. He was not in a life vest but was still relying on pool noodles to keep him afloat. His dad was also in the water with him. Thankfully the dad was there because another boy thought it would be fun to hang on the back of BoyL right at the precise moment that he let go of his noodle. As you can imagine BoyL immediately went underwater and could not get back up because of his friend holding on (who was wearing a lifevest). Thank goodness the father was there to see this and immediately swam over to help. Aside from being scared BoyL was fine and well, clung to his dad’s neck for the next hour. I wonder, had the father not been in the water, how long would it have been before someone noticed. BoyL’s mom was watching constantly but from the angle where we were sitting, I don’t know if she would have seen BoyL under his friend. So, so, so scary.

Moving on to Seena’s story. Seena has not taken swim lessons and requires a lifevest. She knows this, well, I thought she did. After an eating break Seena decided she wanted to get back in the pool. I watched her walk over to a friend (who was less than 4 feet across from me to my left) and try to convince her to go in. While this was going on, I looked over to right and began talking to BoyL’s mom. I honestly don’t know how I could have missed it. One second, Seena was to the left of BoyL’s mom and the next she was in the pool without a vest, flaying her arms around and looking at me with a look of sheer terror in her eyes. I will never forget that face. I never saw her get in the water. What made me look was a sudden move another mother made towards to the pool. Or maybe it was a sound she made. I don’t know. I just know I looked towards the pool and there Seena was, in the pool, under the water, without the vest. Her eyes wide with fear. Thank goodness the other mom saw her get in and was already trying to pull her out. I jumped out of my chair and was poolside in a split second pulling my precious girl out of the water.

Seconds. All of this happened within seconds. Not minutes. Seconds.

I’m thankful, again for my guardian angel for watching over us again.

And I’m thankful for the parents that were there at that party. These kids have grown up together through daycare since they were at least 1 years old, these same kids go to the same b-day parties and all of the parents know each other. So, it’s comforting knowing that our kids are being watched by so many parents at all times. Some were lurking around the edges of the pool, others were in the water and the rest were keeping a watch from patio chairs. Regardless of where the parents were, everyone was watching, taking care of each other’s kids. It’s comforting.

This is especially comforting to me because I was a little peeved at two incidences from the weekend prior that was the complete opposite. Parents not watching, not taking responsibility for their own kids and not offering to help knowing that there could have been a potential problem.

Incident 1 happened at McD’s. I took the kids on a Friday evening because it’s family night and they give away a free happy meal. So it was a little crowded. Now, I know my son is probably not the right age to go tromping through the play tunnels at McD’s but the boy is not afraid of anything and had absolutely no problems with climbing up the steps and going down the tunnel slide. And Seena was with him, taking very good care of him I might add. The problem came when two older girls came in to play. All of the other kids knew how to play nice but not these girls. They began to play tag in the tunnels and down the slide. They were playing extremely rough and they were screaming. SCREAMING at the top of their lungs. I’m looking around for their parents to see if they were going to do anything about this but no, they are nowhere to be found. Each time the one particular girl came down the tunnel, barreling over AJ and Seena, I gave her piercing looks. She saw me and she looked at me every time she came down the slide. She knew she was being too rough. I finally couldn’t take it anymore and asked her to play gently because there were smaller and younger children in the tunnel slide. No improvement. I then actually yelled at the kid. I couldn’t take it anymore. Where the hell were the parents?? Oh, they were sitting somewhere else in the restaurant…not in the kid section. They had no idea what these kids were doing. Infuriating.

Incident #2 happened at a park. This particular park is not like the typical neighborhood park. It’s huge and it has TONS of playground equipment and some of them are very large. The floor is not mulched but the rubbery mat stuff. At a typical park I can stand at the bottom of the equipment and circle around it in a few steps to make sure AJ doesn’t decide to go down a pole or jump off a ledge that is way too high for him. This is not the case at this park. The equipment AJ and Seena were playing on was very big and it sprawled over a large area. I tried following them around on the equipment but it was easier to follow AJ around by staying on the ground….until he gets on the ground himself. Since the bugger is only 2 feet tall he can run under all of the steps, platforms and bridges of the equipment. I unfortunately cannot, so I have to find my way around by walking on the outside of everything. And considering how large this play equipment was, that was not easy. Again, let me remind you that my son is NOT afraid of anything and wants to do everything Seena does. After coming down some slides I see them both running off under everything and I try to follow them (quickly) by making my way around everything. By the time I got to them, AJ was climbing a rounded ladder sort of thing where the rungs are way too far apart for him and he’s already almost to the top. I am freaking out because he could easily have fallen through the rungs and gotten hurt. As I approach to get him I see a mom sitting right next to him under the shade of one of the platforms that AJ was trying to get to by climbing this ladder. Now, I know it’s not her responsibility but I have to admit, I was a little shocked to see her completely ignoring the fact that there was a small boy climbing on something that was potentially dangerous. And it’s not like she didn’t see him. He was right there. So not nice.

So, there it is. Danger is lurking around everywhere and can happen in mere seconds. It’s so scary. I know this, I’ve know this but I wish other parents would realize it too. I really do try to do my best but I hope, no I pray, for those seconds that I turn my eyes away or even blink that there is another parent who understands this threat and will be looking when I am not.

No comments: