Wednesday, July 23, 2008

A Rude Awakening

Yesterday, Keri took Declan, Hilary and Molly to a playdate. Andy and I had a tennis match scheduled at our club, so we just piled everyone left into the minivan and took them with us, so Ronan, Aaron, Gretchen and Erika could enjoy a little swimming under the capable supervision of Marina and Oat.

Andy and I didn't play our best tennis, but we still had a great match against our friends Ricki and Andy Eisenstein. When it was over, we went down to the baby pool to hang with the kids.

In case you're counting, that now makes four adults watching four kids (one of which is a very capable swimmer) play in about ten inches of water. Plus, a friend of Andy's from work was there watching her two-year-old and chatting with us. Not that she was in any way responsible for our kids, but she does represent another set of eyes that you would think might notice if something went wrong.

Which it did.

Erika had helped Ronan climb into a little floatie meant for a baby to sit in, and somehow, he managed to tip himself over so he was upside down in the water, and couldn't right himself.

And the first person to notice? Andy Eisenstein, one of our tennis opponents, who was sitting at a table near the baby pool with his family and dashed into the water in full tennis attire (including his shoes and socks) to grab Ronan and haul him on to the deck.

Ronan was fine - he was crying, and scared of course, but he didn't cough up any water, so I don't think he was under more than a few seconds. But it is scary, that so many of us were there and nobody noticed what was going on. I feel like we had just started to react when Andy jumped in the pool, but maybe what we were reacting to was the drama of Andy jumping into the pool - it's hard to know for sure, given how fast everything happened.

I've written before about how nice it is to have as much support as I have from Keri and Matty, and how they remind me of things I need reminding about and keep me from screwing up too badly. But, as I learned yesterday, there's a flip side to having so many responsible adults around - it can breed a false sense of security, the assumption that someone else is paying attention. I see it all the time at the house - Ronan or Aaron or Gretchen finishes breakfast or lunch and wanders out of the kitchen, and Keri and I don't scramble to retrieve them, because surely if they start to do something too destructive or dangerous, Marina or Oat or Iza or even Erika or Hilary or Declan will notice and call us.

And we've paid the price a few times, nothing too bad - mostly unwanted marker scribbles on the carpet, the dining room chairs, even on Erika's crocs.

But the pool is a different story altogether. And maybe we were less vigilant because the water is so shallow, and the kids navigate the pool so confidently, and we didn't appreciate how dangerous it still was. But now we know. I'm still not sure what specific strategy we should employ: assign specific children to specific adults? Just constantly remind the adults present to be more vigilant? Don't let the two-year-olds play in floaties meant for infants?

I am sure of one thing, though: we owe Andy Eisenstein a new pair of tennis shoes.

No comments: