There’s No Such Thing as “I Turned My Back for a Second”
With summer here, one of my favorite things to do is to go down to the local beach near my cottage. Not necessarily to go swimming but just to enjoy the water. I’ve been to a lot of beaches in my time and it always amazes me how some adults don’t watch their kids, especially the little ones, and it always reminds me of the popular line “I only turned my back for a second.” That’s the line you’ll find far too many times in a news story about a child’s death and in every case, that second was actually a few minutes.
The golden rule for swimming with little kids is to always be within arm’s reach of them…at all times! Even with lifeguards and many adults nearby, YOUR job is to look after them.
Little kids love the water but they are oblivious to the potential danger and that’s when parents have to do their job. For the little ones who show no fear, water wings or even swimming vests will keep them from going under but you still must be within arm’s distance.
When the kids are older and have had a few swimming lessons you should still be close by and should always keep an eye on them. It’s easy for kids to get carried away and not realize how far out they have gone and that’s when the parents have to call them back in.
That also means putting down that book, holding off on that nap and to stop checking emails on your cell phone. You can however still hold a conversation with someone while watching your kids in the water. Far too many times have I heard an adult start asking where their kid is while scanning the water. In most cases the kid had gone off to the side of the swimming area or is down the shore a bit playing in the sand. Some had even left the beach area all together. Your job is to keep an eye on them.
As a stay-at-home dad I was well aware of the “I turned my back for second” scenario. There have been many door bells that had gone unanswered in that time because I was busy doing something with the kids and couldn’t leave them alone. My answering machine worked great and I was always able to rewind the cassette tape and return those calls when I was able to later on. Of course this was before smart phones but I can assure you that even if I did have one, it would have voice mail and that the texts I received would still be there later on that evening. Of course this applies to when you take the kids to the park, playing in your front yard and even in your backyard where you think it’s safe.
The most used pieces of equipment in my house were the Exersaucer (Attention Evenflo, send endorsement payment in cash) and a portable playpen. In those instances where I had to do something, the kids would always be placed in the Exersaucer or the playpen and always within eye sight. As the years went by, the youngest was in the Exersaucer (See that Evenflo, 3 plugs already) while the older one would either help or be in the same room drawing or coloring. Some may call it paranoia but I always thought of it as not making my kids a news story.
To this day when I am at the beach, I keep an eye on my kids. One is now a working lifeguard while the other is almost one. They are actually better qualified at saving a life than I am but out of habit, I still keep an eye on them. After all, it’s my job.