There is nothing more frightening than losing your child, even for a moment, add that to losing them at a pool equates to sheer terror. At our regular Saturday morning swimming classes we were watching our young sons doing their swimming lessons. We like to watch them swimming and improving each week and thought we kept a pretty close eye on them.
I am always a little nervous around water and young children so never tune out completely and remain alert. The lessons were going well and our youngest child had spent most of his lesson in the big pool, which was unusual. We were definitely distracted by watching our 4 year old jumping in to the big pool and even diving for items from the bottom of the pool. Somehow we both lost track of watching our 7 year old boy doing his regular short laps of modified freestyle and backstroke.
The classes ended and it was time to get out. Our 7 year old, who is normally out first shivering and shaking his skinny little body ready to be warmed up, didn't come. I went to help our 4 year old out of the water, scooping him up in his fluffy warm towel. I had thought that our 7 year old must have already gone to his father to be dressed, but he did not. I started to search the faces of the children still getting out and heading to their parents. Nothing.
I began to dry my young son and nervously waited whilst my husband quickly checked the toilets. Nothing. Time to move. The nervous fear rising within me, heart thudding. Enough, I marched toward the pool side beginning to quickly scan the bottom of the pool. Nothing. Growing more desperate as the clock continued to tick. Minutes passed. Nothing. Everyone was out and the next classes were under way. Nothing.
I scanned the pool bottom again, desperate to not find anything suspicious, I searched all the little faces near me. Nothing. I sent my husband back to the toilet. He had to be there. Nothing.
It was time to voice my fears, a shaky high pitch sound was all I could manage when I demanded to know where my son was. The looks on the faces of the young swimming instructors said it all. They didn't see anyone. They didn't know. Again, I scanned the pool and began to move quickly. Too late now, fear had taken its grip and full internal panic ensued. I externally tried to remain calm but internally I was losing the battle. Just looking at my husband's face, a reflection of how I was feeling, said it all. Nothing.
Pace quickens, where is he? Where could he be? Could he have been taken? Could he have wandered somewhere else? You don't want to face your worst fear. That he didn't get out of the pool. That he is still in there...
I know these moments in time seem to go slowly but in reality they go quickly. Still, minutes ticked by. My son always got himself out of the pool by himself, he would even start to dress himself before his younger brother finished. It has never been an issue. We tried to remember when we saw him last. We both realised, in dismay, that it had been quite a while. Too long.
We had both been distracted by our 4 year old in the big pool and hadn't noticed. We hadn't noticed his class moving to the deep end of the pool. We hadn't noticed our 7 year old son learning to jump in to the deep end. We hadn't noticed that his class had run late, for the first time ever. We hadn't noticed he was missing, until he was.
Then, out of nowhere, we saw him. He was walking along the poolside, heading down from the deep end, nervously shivering. I'm sure wondering why his parents were frantically pacing the pool and yelling at everyone. The relief is palpable. You just hug and don't care why. All you care is they are safe and its all ok.
The teacher sheepishly swam down and apologised profusely for scaring us, everyone was able to breath a sigh of relief. We weren't the only ones at this point beginning to imagine the worst. It's times like this you realise that, even though you think you are vigilant and alert, it is so easy to lose track and miss the little things ...our precious kids.