Water Babies

Many questioned my judgment to have a fourth child. I don’t blame them.  Four kids can be like running barefoot through a snow storm while a vulture is chasing you.  It’s a nut pizza with extra cheese.   It also has come with a gift of unexplainable calm.  Most parents who have more than one child will admit they were crazy with the first, and it gets easier each time.  I concur with this notion, and I will admit I try new things I would have NEVER tried with my first. 

Living in Southern California means we spend a lot of time in the water. I grew up with pools, beaches, water parks and let’s not forget the awesome slip and slide my brother and I made with trash bags on the green belt in 1979.  Water was an everyday thing, and I never had anxiety around it.  I taught my first two kids to swim with ease.  I’m not sure when they no longer needed a “floatie” for help, but it was early on.  I’ve now learned about these amazing swim schools that can teach babies to be water safe.  I was skeptical at first.  After all, I did already teach two kids to be water safe all by myself, right? 

Well, child number three is posing a challenge for me.  He loves his “floatie” like a security blanket.  It’s cute, looks like a green monster, and he feels like a super hero in it. I never thought because he wore it that I could take my eyes off of him, but he and I just liked the fact that it kept his head above water.  My sister-in-laws both work at this great place called SwimKidsUSA in Arizona.  They are swim expert people through and through.  They mentioned to me that the philosophy of the school did not believe in flotation devices.  I thought this was kind of kookoo…until now.  My 4.5 year old has a false sense of security with his little green monster, and now needs to be taught to swim from scratch.  He is learning, gaining confidence, and will be fine.  The experience with him, one that was completely different from my first two, lead me to brave something new.

Letting go of preconceived ideas of how it was best to teach a child about water safety, I took a leap of faith and got in the pool with my 10 week old baby.  YES, I said my BABY.  Lana Whitehead is known around the world for her expertise in teaching young children to be water safe. I’d met her at birthday parties, I have donated to her foundation, Blake’s Miracle, and I’ve watched from afar how successful her philosophy and business are.  I had the opportunity while visiting family to get in the pool with Lana.  I can honestly say it was an amazing gift.  She explained what we were doing, why we were doing it, and before my very first class was over I was teaching my infant how to survive if he were to fall in water.  He loved it.  We even submerged him carefully (there is a series of steps to get them comfortable with this) and I could see how an infant’s natural comfort zone was to float on their back. The way Lana looked at Liam brought me to tears.  Her nature, true love of children, and passion for keeping children water safe radiated like the sun.  I wanted her to handle him as much as possible.  I stared and studied her every move and demeanor.   I went back to her class two more times before I had to leave town, and if I lived there, would have been at her class every single day.

I’m not sure I could have ever had the courage to let someone dunk my baby under water the first time around.  I’m grateful that with time, experience and a willingness to try new things…the wisdom that comes with baby number four is special.   SwimKidsUSA is special. Lana Whitehead is special.  The fact that my fourth child will learn to swim without ever needing a flotation device is beyond amazing. 

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