>We decided to celebrate the 4th of July this year with a triple almost-drowning. Yup, it was super festive! We went to Comet pond, which is legendary in Demetri’s family. He grew up swimming there with his sisters and cousins. And now he was going to swim there with his daughter. Comet is great for many reasons. One of which is an extended family member has a house on Comet that sports a huge screened in porch and a private dock. The cooler was packed, a Dora the Explorer life jacket was purchased, and sun block was applied.
We arrived and picked our away along the worn path down to the water. Demetri held Zoey’s hand as she tripped over roots and pine cones yelling, “Water! Zoey see water!” At the edge of the path we dumped our stuff and clipped Zoey into her life jacket. We walked to the end of the dock, I held Zoey’s hand and looked at Demetri expectantly. For the 5 years I have known Demetri he has talked about Comet. About how great it is. About how he loves swimming there. “Well?” I said. “Aren’t you going to get in?” Demetri shuffled his feet, gazed out across the water, and shrugged. “Eh. It might be cold.”
Let me pause here and point out that my husband is a native New Englander. He regularly swims in MAINE. Where the average water temperature in July is 60 degrees. SIXTY. I, on the other hand, am used to swimming in South Carolina where the average water temperature in July is 84 degrees. I ask you, WHO SHOULD GET IN FIRST? HM?
My wimpy husband dipped his toe in the water and made an odd, stretchy face which I assumed meant the water was a bit chilly. I rolled my eyes. And I may have muttered something like some New England boy you are, looooooser. But on second thought, no. I probably said something sweet and endearing. Because that’s the kind of wife I am.
So I got in. That’s right: I GOT IN. Mad props to the non New Englander. Zoey was handed to me. And, let me just say, she handled the water like a true New Englander. Unlike some other people I could mention. I clasped Zoey (and her Dora life vest) to my chest and began to swim towards the floating dock that was a little ways out in the water. Swimming with a 27 pound toddler held to your chest is not as easy as it sounds. I began to sink a bit lower in the water than I would have liked. Zoey began to contemplate panicking. I smiled for Zoey’s sake and grunted between gasps for air, “Honey. Get. In. Here. NOW.” And to his credit, Demetri got in. And somehow we all 3 made it to the floating dock. But then, our mood disordered toddler decided she did not want get up on the floating dock which moments before she had begged, begged, to swim out to. Cries of “NOOOOOoooooOOOOOOoooooo GOOOOO BAAAAAACCCKKKK” echoed across the pond.
As commanded, we started to head back. At this point I noticed a kayaker near by. Well, that looks fun, I thought. I continued to do a kind of flailing back/side stroke with Zoey held to my chest which, of course, meant I didn’t have the use of my arms. About half way back to land I began to go under. “Demetri,” I sputtered, “I don’t have her.” And, then, so as not to alarm Zoey, I spelled out H-E-L-P and took water into my mouth. I hoisted Zoey on to Demetri’s back, yelled, “YAY! FUN ON DADDY’S BACK!” just as I slipped further under the pond water. I popped up immediately as my arms were freed. Again, I noticed the kayak which was now within a few strokes of us. Now instead of realizing the kayaker had come closer to offer help as we flailed more and more hopelessly in the water I thought, Geeze, you have a whole pond here HOW ABOUT A LITTLE SPACE. Yup, I’m a few Crayons short of a full box. (sigh). Zoey is on Demetri’s back smiling that she gets a pont ride in the water. Meanwhile Demetri is sinking lower and lower in the water, his mouth constantly dipping below the water line. I have one hand pushing Zoey’s butt up and out of the water so she feels supported. And so her head remains above water. “MUST. BUY. RAFT.” I gasp. Demetri sputters choking on some water, “CAN’T. LAUGH. DROWNING.” And we still don’t ask the kayaker for help — WE ARE IDIOTS. We make it to the dock, hoist Zoey up, and pull ourselves up onto the sun-warmed wood. Demetri and I lie gasping for air, exhausted. Zoey laughs and chants, “So funny! That so funny!”
Demetri and I look at each other and, perhaps making the smartest decision we have ever made as parents, decide not to come back to Comet until next summer. At least not without a raft. With sides. Otherwise known as A BOAT.