Recently I keep coming across articles related to silent drowning and it linked me to an incident with R once last year when he was taking swim lessons at Serangoon Gardens Country Club (SGCC) in the afternoon while K was in school. The memory is still so fresh now that I am writing it down.
Drowing is scary. Last year, I had a fright once after his swimming class at the club. Normally, R will be splashing at the baby pool right under my nose after his lessons. That afternoon, I called out to him when it was time to go but he wanted extra minutes. I said no, turned my back but actually in my mind, was already giving him extra time. Just that I went to fill water bottles without insisting that he was to come up immediately.
My mind went total blank when I turned around and don’t see him after finished refilling 2 water bottles. The dispenser was just 2-3 tables away from mine, and my table was just directly in front of the baby pool. How could he have gone anywhere when moments ago he was still inside the baby pool? He couldn’t have gone anywhere far. But I just couldn’t find him within sight even though my radar scanned everywhere.
Panic griped me as I quickly scanned the adult pool for any child at the bottom. Paronoid, yes I know. I also scanned the bottom of the deep deep end too 😦 At the back of my mind, I sort of figured he couldn’t have drowned too, for he wasn’t the sort to plunge into adult pool without permission at that time. He was 4+ and just started to take swim classes and still afraid of the water. Yet, when I can’t find him at the Splash & Play pool too, I literally started shouting for his name every few steps and turn that I took and started a mini show at the club with people just watching me and didn’t care at all.
I also ran to the bathroom and shouted out his name few times, without response. I would estimate the bathroom to be ~ 100m away from my table as it’s over at the other end of the pool. The next thing I could do was to run back to his coach who was having his 2nd class and disrupted him, begging him for help that R went missing all of a sudden. While coach was helping to find him around the pool, I ran into the Clubhouse and requested for a public announcement at the Concierge. I didn’t want to be physically away from the pool for too long so I just blurted out all that I wanted to say and ran off again.
Just as I was returning to the pool, coach brought along R who was found by one of the club workers when he spotted him crying outside the bathroom. He was still crying and I felt my whole body loosened up immediately. I had never felt so lost and scared over my kids before as I always keep a watchful eye on them especially at the pool. All it took was just the amount of time needed to fill 2 water bottles at the water cooler? I could have sweared it didn’t take more than 3 minutes.
When we both calmed down enough, R told me that he came up immediately when I asked him to. But he didn’t see me at my table and thought that I was angry and didn’t wait for him. So he hurriedly walked to the bathroom trying to catch up with me. Then he couldn’t find me at the bathroom and was standing there (I think he could have felt lost then). When I asked if he heard me shouting for his name from outside the bathroom, he said he did! When I asked why he didn’t respond to my call, he said he didn’t know where exactly I was calling from (goodness!). By the time he got out of the bathroom, I wasn’t there too. So, he just stood there and cried. 😦
The bathroom entrance is concealed from the pool and Clubhouse by tall bushes and the pump room / jacuzzi. There is no way I could have seen him once I leave the small pathway leading to the bathroom entrance. We were lucky because the pool belongs to private club and danger from stranger is lesser compared to public pool. I didn’t get to know which worker found him and kept him accompanied until coach came along. That afternoon, I was just so glad to have him back in my arms that I didn’t know how to react anymore.
After piecing things together, all I could do was to hug him tightly and at the same time calm myself down. If I had told him that it’s OK to have a few more minutes while I go fill up the water bottles, things wouldn’t have happened. I was hoping that the tight hug could heal every scare he had suffered over that perhaps, 15 minutes, hoping that my baby will never ever be out of my sight again. While he was asleep on the way to my hubby’s office, I cried while driving.
He is no longer taking swim class at the Club. He is currently with Swim Conceirge and taking lessons with K and their friends. Nowadays, we dropped them off at swimming and leave for breakfast. By the time we get back, it’s about 15-20 minutes after lesson ends and again, the children will be at the baby pool splashing around. All these while, without adult supervision as we had taken for granted that the older kids will take care of the smaller ones and each other too. Thinking back, I really should not be over-confident and to leave the children at the pool. In my own words – that’s irresponsible parenting. Better to take action now than to live in regret.
To my dear friends, pls read my above self-conclusion and resolution towards more responsible parenting. 🙂
Though my personal story is not related to drowning, reading such articles did link me to this memory. I found this article a great resource which shared about identifying drowning risks and symptoms and here too. Pls have a read if you have a small child at home as drowning doesn’t look like drowning most of the times. In fact, we were all taught the wrong thing by the television we grew up with –
people who are drowning are always shouting out loud for help and have their arms flailing around above water.
~ SAys! Shirley