Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

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Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Think or Thwim


Okay, it was scary.
But it turned out all right . . .
Our family have always been swimmers.
Our children are introduced to the water soon after they arrive.
And spend copious amounts of time there.
When we take a holiday, our choice of hotel is always based on whether or not it has a pool.
On to my story . . .
We were in Great Falls with my Husby's eldest brother and his family.
We had a favourite hotel there.
With *gasp* two pools.
The main pool was popular.
And usually busy.
We had decided to gather beside the smaller pool.
Adults, visiting.
Kids, playing.
Because we grown-ups hadn't planned on swimming, my Husby put on his suit under protest.
But I insisted.
At least one adult needed to be prepared.
We went down.
And spent a pleasant half-hour talking and laughing.
Now I should explain, here, that this smaller pool had one major draw-back.
It really wasn't made with children in mind.
It was roughly circular in shape.
And was shallow at the outer edges.
And deep in the middle.
I know. Weird.
Moving on . . .
Our oldest boy, aged four, was playing happily with his cousins in the shallows.
The kids were shouting and giggling and generally making 'happy' sounds and our oldest nephew, aged six, was keeping up a continuous dialogue of, “Mom! Dad! Look at this!”
His parents had tuned him out.
Something I simply couldn't do.
And for which I am eternally grateful.
“Mom!” he shouted.
I turned and looked at him.
“Mark's down there!” he said, pointing toward the centre of the pool.
My Husby looked at me.
“Get him!” I shouted.
He jumped in and an instant later, came up with our little boy.
For a few seconds, Mark coughed and gasped.
Then cried.
And just like that, our swim was over for the day.
We left the next morning, everyone well and happy, and completely unaware of the psychological damage that had been done.
A few days later, we took our family down to the river to our favourite swimming hole.
Though the water came no higher than his ankles, Mark refused to put one foot into the river.
Odd.
Later, we went to the local swimming pool for what had always been our favourite Saturday evening activity.
Mark, our fish, clung to the ladder and screamed.
Okay, something was definitely wrong.
For the next few months, every time we tried to go swimming, it was the same.
People splashing around.
Mark sitting as far from the water as he could get.
Hmmmm.
A year passed.
Without much change.
Then our family moved to Edmonton.
Within hours of getting settled, my Husby discovered the local rec centre.
And their 'wave pool'.
Sounded intriguing.
What on earth was a wave pool?
We packed up the kids and went to investigate.
It turned out that a wave pool was just that.
A pool.
With waves.
For fifteen minutes, the water was calm.
Smooth.
Then a horn would blow and the waves would start.
Small, at first, then growing in size until they were . . . significant.
Mark had been paddling in the ankle-deep water at the shallow end.
A big step for him.
The horn sounded.
He looked up.
And stared at the wall of water coming toward him.
Okay, it wasn't a wall.
Maybe more of a . . . fence?
Well, maybe a median.
But it was definitely coming toward him.
We watched as he considered his options.
Then, to our surprise, he dropped to his knees and . . . let the wave roll over him.
And just like that, his fear was gone.
Our fish was back.

There is a codicil:
Mark is married now, and the father of four.
Several times a week, he takes his family swimming.
It is their favourite activity.
Every time they appear with wet hair and faces glowing with exercise and happiness, I give thanks for the therapeutic properties of waves.

Aaahh! Therapy!

6 comments:

  1. I almost drowned when I was nine, it took me until I was thirteen to get over the fear, now I love swimming. I totally understand the fear that your son had, I am glad he got over it:)

    ReplyDelete
  2. We remember every moment, every small detail of the time when we almost lost our child. I still.have dreams of mine and it happened 36 years ago. A minute can change everything. We were very fortunate that everything turned out OK also.

    ReplyDelete
  3. It could have gone either way ... glad he embraced the wave!

    When I was young (maybe 9?) I loved the water. Then I wasn't around it for a few years, and when I went back, I had a fear of it that remains to this day, even though I've tried to overcome it with "Scared Stiff" classes. Nothing happened, at least nothing that I remember. Obviously my brain chose the other option :)

    ReplyDelete
  4. an experience like that could be traumatizing. It is important to teach kids not to panic. In a pool they can always walk/crawl out.
    We had swimming lessons and I never learned until some wise guy kid pushed me off the high diving board. I learned fast then.lol

    ReplyDelete
  5. You had that whole thing planned out from the beginning. Everyone knows how to push their siblings buttons.

    ReplyDelete

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Diane was born and raised on one of the last of the great old Southern Alberta ranches. A way of life that is fast disappearing now. Through her memories and stories, she keeps it alive. And even, at times, accurate . . .

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