What should have been a day of rest, relaxation, and fun in the sun, almost turned into every parent’s nightmare.
We had my bonus daughter for the night, Friday night, and our regular visit on Saturday. Plans had been made previously to spend the day at the pool where my mother-in-law resides, so all parties were excited about the day. I rose early, prepared the cooler of drinks, our pool bag with towels, suits, and other accoutrements, and woke the family to start our day.
One of my sisters-in-law wanted to stay over Saturday evening, so we included her in our day as well. We all packed in like sardines, and headed over to the in-laws. Another sister-in-law has recently come home from bad situation, with her 18 month old son, so we were a large party attending the pool yesterday. I’m sure we were a sight, dragging kids and toys along the way to the far back corner, where I prefer to set up camp.
Our youngest, who is two, enjoys the pool, as long as someone is there for him to cling to like a spider monkey. He’s also an “in and out” kid, loving to go up and down the ladder, standing on the side of the pool, tossing rings in for others to retrieve. We have squirt tubes, similar to a water gun, but in tube form, that he also likes to fill and shoot everyone in range with.
After an hour or so of swimming, he was finished with being in the water, and wanted to come out and do some tossing and shooting. His dad and I were sitting on lounge chairs, with one of his aunts, while the other aunt, and two kids were in the pool. He was happily shooting water into the pool from less than five feet away.
Before sitting down, I asked the aunt in the pool if she was good keeping an eye on him from her vantage point, you know, just in case. I received a hearty yes, no problem. Her child was in a life vest, which we had loaned her. Our other child swims like a fish. Gods forbid, had anything happened, she was closer to our little one than anyone, and would have put no one else in danger had she needed to reach him.
I felt safe. I felt secure.
I looked, when my child yelled, “Mommy, look!” as he squirted his sister with the water tube. We all laughed. She has a snorkel mask she insists on wearing at the pool, so no harm, no foul.
I turned to say something to my sister-in-law who was sitting next to me. My husband was involved in the conversation. It lasted maybe 10 seconds. It was about him leaving to put pizza in the oven. At the same time, we turned to do a head count.
There was a head missing.
Our two year old had gone into the pool.
I didn’t think. I just reacted. I don’t even remember going into the pool. I was just there, grabbing him and raising him above the water. As I type this, tears are rolling down my face, as my brain is finally catching up to the rest of me, as I finally allow myself to understand what could have happened.
He was fine. He could not have been underwater more than 10 seconds. He coughed a bit and sputtered, but he never threw up water, or anything like that. He belched once. That was it. He didn’t cry, or even get upset. He wasn’t scared. He even wanted to go back in the pool.
I was TERRIFIED. I still am. And ANGRY.
I’m angry at myself, for taking my eyes off him for those 10 seconds. And I’m angry at my sister-in-law for failing to do what I asked her to do; for not watching from less than two feet away. She could reach out and touch him. And she never even fucking noticed that he fell in the pool.
And she’s clueless. Absolutely clueless as to why I will barely speak to her. I can’t right now. If I do, other than one word answers, I’ll take her head off. Ultimately, he’s my responsibility, always. But when you say you’ll watch a child, in a situation like that, you do it. Period.
I’m lucky. My child is fine. He’s alive. It could have gone completely different. I know people who have lost their child due to drowning. I know I’m lucky. I also know, that I will never look at the pool the same again. That I definitely learned a lesson yesterday, even if no one else did. My child will never be there again, without a life vest securely on his body, until he learns to swim. Ironically, he has one. We loaned it to the sister-in-law who was supposed to be watching him.
I held his little body to me a little tighter last night. Breathing in his still present baby smell, and tried not to let him see me cry. He must have felt hot tears on the top of his head, as he looked up at me and said, “You okay Mommy?” I said, “Yes, baby, I’m okay, I’m just glad you are.”
“I love you Mommy, the most, and always, okay?”
Yeah, son, because I didn’t need to cry anymore.