If life were replayed as a movie reel, I would begin this tale at the end and employ dramatic use of flashback. You would be dropped into a bedroom with an exhausted Mammy and her sleepy three year old reading The Little Red Hen, adorned with sparkly adorned, green based nail polished fingertips (Ariel style), a face made up to look like a cat (mascara) and clutching an old, heavy, grey toy kitten called Lucky. Lucky is taking centre snuggle stage. All looking calm and centred…I would then talk directly to the camera, soliloquy style and say something like…
So, seems like the perfect domestic scene, eh? Nothing wrong, nothing out of order and everything serene. ..well you are right. Right now everything is peachy. Yesterday, however, told a different tale. It happened something like this…(cue camera flashback to 24 hours earlier).
In the world of parenting, there is always something. Something to worry about. Over analyse. Double check. Thank your lucky, lucky most fortuitous stars for.
On Saturday, we experienced living in the effects of what in medical terms is referred to as ‘a near drowning’ of our oldest child. Gigi is fine now. She is coughing and sleepy, but she is safe and happy. Let me relate.
A normal Saturday morning. We go to a local pool for swim lessons. Betsy goes to SwimBaby, a nursery set of lessons with rhymes and games. One of us goes in the water with Betsy- in this case it was Mr Paper. Gigi has progressed to Turtles. Turtles are in a pool with a depth up to Gigi’s chin. They are a class with an instructor and all are aged about 3- 6. I was questioning when she was moved originally and reminded everyone she was only three (despite looking five) but was reassured. She will be fine. She is ready.
Lessons week after week. She is no Michelle Smith but she is enjoying it. I have often thought her class is over crowded at times. I have often thought she looks easily distracted from the lesson due to the cacaphonos pool noises of six groups in lessons. I have often thought that I am over thinking it. Once again, parents are taught a lesson. If you are over thinking it is because you sense the potential danger. You should always listen to your little voice.Gigi had been in her lesson, the float in her hands and the waggle under her tummy. She had been trying to stay afloat. She must have lost her grip on the float. Gigi went headfirst into the water with her but stuck in the air, held up by the waggle. Her head was totally submerged.I hadn’t seen it. I was in viewing gallery position, but a lady was talking to me and picking my brain about education. I was glancing from her to the pool. Mr Paper and Betsy were in their own lesson but were watching Gigi when they could. We encourage Betsy to wave over and say hello, just so Gigi knows we are nearby. In this case the instructor didn’t see Gigi go under. No one did.
She piped up ‘Where did Gigi go Daddy?”.
He spun about searching. He saw the telltale Little Mermaid swimsuit ruffle and the danger instantly. Passing Betsy to her instructor, he swiftly got to her and righted her up. By now, Gigi’s instructor was by her side. The lifeguard came. I saw Gigi at the poolside vomiting.
Tearing around the gallery, I ran through the slippy changing area to meet her lifeguard approaching with a pale Gigi. As I had only seen her throw up and nothing else, I assumed this is why she was out- as she was sick. The lifeguard assured me that was all- she had only thrown up. He never mentioned the other incident at all. Had he even known?
As I changed her Mr Paper arrived with Betsy saying ‘ I saw what happened, I know what happened.’
What happened? I didn’t know. Gigi shivered and said ‘I fell in the water Mammy’.More than a little bewildered, we changed and warmed up. I kept hugging Gigi and kissing her. My head couldn’t keep my thoughts straight. Mr Paper went to speak to the pool management and try get their version.
A few hours later we were home with a seemingly OK, if somewhat congested Gigi. She had begun coughing. Quite violently. It was a persistently chesty bark. Suddenly she complained of cold. She shivered and her teeth clattered. Her temperature rose. She became very hot. She threw up. This is all happened in the same half an hour. She was in shock. From the VHI nurse to midoc, we were referred to A and E.
Three hours later we were checked in. Four hours later we had a chest x- ray result- slight infection on the lung.
Five hours later we were in the children’s ward for the night.
Gigi is OK. She has an antibiotic. She had a nebulizer to help her breathing. She got home the next evening.
So to present day- we are curled up. Napping. Catching up. Mentally, physically and emotionally. We had a fright.
I don’t know what I think. So many people asked me the story. So many people were angered by it. I don’t feel this. I feel more unnerved because I always suspected it a possibility. I always knew the lessons looked impossible to monitor properly. I now know I was concerned because it was true. I was not just being over cautious. The instructors are mainly quite young. They are passionate. The complex is a big company- international I think. The owners need to rethink their policy regarding class sizes and this has been our recommendation to them in our follow ups. It is not fair or right to expect one young girl to watch up to ten children constantly and teach them in water.
We are lucky. Again, with Gigi we have been very lucky. Just like Lucky the cat, who had been my sister’s toy, rising from the ashes with the love of another little girl, we fight another day and learn another lesson as parents and children.