Saturday, May 31, 2014

Drowning is silent! Listen, watch, teach!!

Kids laughing, old timers groovin, old school R and B steaming through the outdoor's the sounds of summer. Think about it, those BBQs you remember most, the menu is always the same, it's the sounds that gauge if the party is jumpin.....long after the sun has set the music still plays. For me, the sound of summer means the splish splash of the pool and the crackling of the ocean's waves. This black girl don't run..............but she sure swims!!

When it comes to swimming, our motto is the more the merrier. We get it in! All summer long. Nieces and nephews and neighbors, let's go. No one is getting thrown out of this pool....this is family!!
weekend pool crew, having fun!
While no one gets thrown out.....there are rules to get in. Yup. Some rules. And the rules don't always go over very well. I've been accused of being bougie. (really?) Worried about insurance. (I'm not even making this up) And in many cases not taken folks related to and guests in my home. But folks that really know me know I am not's why:  Nearly 60% of Black children can't swim, almost twice the figure for white children!  Black children drown at a rate almost three times the overall rate. Go ahead, digest that.
Now, just to be clear....our "more the merrier" policy does not discriminate. It's a rainbow coalition in my backyard and my rules don't discriminate either. If you are know the rules. The facts are the facts and drowning is SILENT! There is no soundtrack that comes with it. It is not like television with well thought out splashing and looks of panic. In many cases by the time people realize a child is missing, enough time has passed for the child to have drowned!!

When I opened my pool for the very 1st time a neighbor asked my son if he could come take a swim. Of course was the reply. Let me set it up for you so you can evaluate for yourself:
1. Parents dropped the child off at the house in swim trunks and with a towel (so they knew he was swimming, right?)
2. Parents did not come and meet me or see who would be supervising this activity (9 feet of water people!)
3. We asked the child, "can you swim and with a huge grin he said, "yes Ma'am!"

Ten minutes later while chatting on the side of the house my son comes running and screaming, "He's drowning! He's drowning!!" What? What do you mean he is drowning. How could that be?

When I rounded the corner I expected to see a flailing child, splashing and panicked. I did not see anything. At. All. "Where is he?" I said out loud even as my body was responding to the answer that my mind already knew. Lifeless. Underwater. Nine feet. NO. MOVEMENT.

In I went. Strong. Quick. How can a boy of 12 be so heavy? How can this be happening? Please don't let this beautiful boy I don't even know die here on this day. Got him. Now what? Kick. Kick. Push. Up. Air. Nothing.

Stunned, my husband was at the edge and ready. Lifting, pulling. Helping. In the winter boxes of my mind I pulled out what I knew to do....flip, empty mouth, cpr. Pray. Is it possible to do all of these things at the same time? Yes. I know. I did.

And then, coughing. "What is your name?" I screamed at the top of my lungs and the sound of his voice was like Jesus reaching down and caressing my face. But it wasn't over. Taking him home, offers to the ER being refused, trying to explain that a child can "drown" even hours later to parents that didn't understand. Hearing the whole story of how my son nearly was pulled down with him when he first jumped in to save his friend before getting help......And, finally, sobbing in gratitude. What next..........

Rules of the pool.
1. No swimming alone. Ever.
2. DEMONSTRATED swimming if swimming without flotation devices. (yes, I will stand and watch)
3. If you have young children, you must be present when your child is swimming. umm, AND WATCHING YOUR CHILD.
4. Must be able to explain how to help a swimmer in distress (pool stick, floating device....NOT jumping in)
5. There can be new rules at any time
6. Adults must comply as well

Now, I know in my experience there were so many things I did wrong. And I can share with you that I am one of those people that sees certain things on the news and I scream at the TV...Where were the parents!!!?? And yet......this happened to me. And somehow, I have managed to jump back in and get it in! And I still go by the motto, the more the merrier. It's nothing better than enjoying a hot summer day chilling by the pool. Chatting with a girlfriend. Soaking up some rays. Rockin to the Fresh Prince singing, Summer Summer summer time. And listening to the kids splash and play. But know this, while I may be swaying to the music, smile on my sunburned face, one ear is always listening fully to what I don't hear. Silence. And that is as real as it gets. Pay it forward beautiful people......teach a child to swim. It could save a life. Real talk. Happy summer!

realtalknic: With all the sounds of summer, listen for silence

realtalknic: With all the sounds of summer, listen for silence: Kids laughing, old timers groovin, old school R and B steaming through the outdoor's the sounds of summer. Think about i...