Christopher is running as fast as his two-year old little legs can carry him towards the water in the pool. When he reaches it he does what he and his dad always do, every week. With a happy squeal he jumps right in. But where is his Dad? No sign of Dad who usually always is with Christopher.
As Christopher’s little body tumbles down deeper into the water he gets surprised, he is not bouncing up as he usually does. He wants to come up again, but he doesn’t know how to! And Dad is not there.
Suddenly Christopher feels someone grab hold of him and pulls him up and out of the water.
He stands back on the pool deck looking with confusion at his rescuer, a man he has never seen before. Inside Christopher there is a turmoil of mixed emotions. Then he hears his Dad’s voice calling his name.
Dad approaches with big steps, worry and fear written all over his face. Christopher reaches for his Dad who picks his little boy up and presses him close into his chest. In Dads arms the tears come. Dad looks like he too is in need of comfort.
Christopher and his Dad has gone for a swim every Sunday the past year. They go up early and while Mom sleeps in they drive to the club and enjoy some Dad and Son quality time.
Christopher has grown very fond of swimming and has become quite a daredevil in the water too. This Sunday while Dad was busy organizing their things Christopher (with the short-lived patience of a two-year old) took matters in his own hands and went ahead of Dad to the pool room.
Christopher knew his way, he had walked there with his Dad for as long as he can remember. With the feeling of joy, freedom and some urgency when he saw the water, the only thing on his mind probably was time for fun.
Only two years old, he has not yet developed the ability to calculate risk or understand consequence, (that will take another twenty (20) years or more). He needs adults to make sure he is safe and secure.
What he also didn’t know was that there is a big difference if you jump in with floaties* on, or not.
Christopher had never experienced anything else than jumping in with floaties on his arms. His understanding of jumping into water was that he was buoyed right back up.
With no floaties on his arms, it didn’t work as he had learned to understand it. The new experience surprised him and he didn’t know how to orient or propel himself to the surface and back to the wall.
He had never been given the opportunity to learn and practice it. Dad didn’t know either that it was important nor that a swim aid, when used this way, actually becomes a crutch for his son and his possibilities to learn important skills.
*(Floaties inflatable arm-rings, swim-ring, cork-belt or other flotation devices.)
While Dad was comforting Christopher the horrifying thought of “What if…” occupied his mind in various ways. It was a close call, a scary experience for both Dad and Christopher. Luckily with a good ending.
The man who rescued Christopher and Dad talked, they agreed on that little two-year-old’s, get their own ideas and can be quick as lightning together with that they don’t always understand that they can get into serious trouble. As far as Christopher knew this place was a happy and fun place and that he could “swim”.
The man recommended Dad to give his son the opportunity of also getting to learn a more true experience of the water and how that would equip Christopher better. It would also teach dad important knowledge about his son and his abilities and limitations in water.
It was a matter of not giving children a false sense of water and their capabilities but letting them in the safety and security of their parents guidance, and in their own pace learn about the water and be better equipped in water and with life on this planet.
Dad didn’t need to think twice. He signed them up for swim lesson right away. It took some weeks before Christopher happily accepted not having the floaties on. He missed the freedom and independence they had given him and without them he felt limited and it frustrated him.
But soon they both, Dad and Christopher, gained more confidence and the lessons they learned helped them grow as individuals and as a team. It made them feel great. Dad learned about water and how to help and give his son opportunity to discover his buoyancy and develop efficient movements.
Christopher could under his dads great leadership grow trust in himself and develop his understanding of water and swim abilities. They took their Sunday quality time to a whole new level.
Christopher grew more understanding and confidence and his father was a great leader beside him. Because of the trusting relationship and the fun they had together Christopher soon learned how to, after jumping into the water without the floaties, orient and propel himself back to the wall.
With the more true knowledge of his whereabouts in the water he could also enjoy time with the floaties on. Although as his competence had grown he preferred swimming without. With the support and help from Dad he was developing his swimming skills, and that was a fun challenge for him.
Son and Dad have fun and grow under a fathers great leadership
A flotation device, such as a Pool Noodle or Swim Ring, can give a child freedom to move around independently in the water. But too much time spent with flotation devices can adversely impact muscle memory and your child’s swimming, so use these aids in moderation.
From the Book: "Happy Babies Swim"