Friday, June 27, 2014


This week's events - if I haven't mentioned it before - have just leveled me.  The irony of the woman who performed the ultimate random act of kindness for me after Gavin died... then lost her own little boy a little over a year later.  And the fact that he died in a pool the week I've been writing about Brian's swim lessons at the local YMCA.

But there's something else.  As you know, Gavin LOVED the water.  Any kind of water.  He also had no concept of danger.  If someone had predicted that Gavin was going to die in a random and unexpected way - I would have assumed it would have been in water -  not a random febrile seizure that would stop his heart on a sunny, Wednesday afternoon in April.  Gavin, like Bode, was not 100% like his peers, cognitively and developmentally.  This tragic accident could easily have happened to Gavin.  It just would have taken five seconds of not looking.  Honestly - Gavin was that quick and it is just that easy to get yourself into trouble that you can't get out of.
So for the last few days - as I watched Brian in his swim lesson - I thought of Bode.  And Gavin.  And how Brian was fearful of the water for a long time... until Gavin died.  After Gavin died, it was like he passed on his love affair with water to Brian.  It's a beautiful thing to watch him play and splash and jump in the pool into his Daddy's arms or mine.

Brian was brave over these last two weeks and tried new things!
He was able to float on his back unassisted for ten seconds!
He practiced putting his face in the water and swimming using his arms and kicking his legs.
He enjoyed laughing with his fun swim instructor, Miss Stephanie.

"She's hilarious, Mom." he told me
The other kids in his class seemed way more advanced - they were jumping in without anyone catching them... swimming doggie paddle or actually swimming back to the wall... swimming using the noodle, etc.  I was proud of Brian for knowing what he could and couldn't do, though.  He didn't try anything that he knew he couldn't do without the teacher's help.

The last day was yesterday and it was all about safety.  She taught them how to use a pool noodle (or anything they can find) to pull a friend out of the water.  They learned about calling a lifeguard for help.  They practiced with life vests and getting in and out of an emergency raft (definitely the highlight of Brian's experience!)
Brian definitely seems to have a healthy fear of water.  But here's the thing... I'm still not comfortable.  After this experience with Bode this week - I feel like Brian (and maybe even Hope!) need serious swim training.  We don't have a pool at our home (and never will, thank you!) - and we're happy to catch Brian as long as he wants and hold him in the water to play.  But I want him to be able to save himself if he falls into a pool.  I'm considering private swim lessons throughout the rest of the summer.
Thank you to (the hilarious!) Miss Stephanie from our YMCA for a great two week swim lesson!
The last two weeks has also been "stroller boot camp" for little Miss Hope.  Brian and I decided that she needed to love sitting in her stroller and learn to entertain herself before we go on vacations this summer to the beach or to amusement parks - or for things like his swim lessons or Tee Ball in the Fall.  We are happy to report that she passed "boot camp" with flying colors.  She sat in her stroller happily 80% of the time during Brian's swim lessons entertaining herself...
...10% of the time engrossed in watching her brother in the pool...
...and the rest of the time in my lap cheering Brian on!  The love affair continues.


  1. My siblings and I started taking mommy and me swim lessons from the time we were 6 months old. We took 4 sessions throughout the year. I still thank my parents all the time. We all were strong swimmers and I know my mom did not fear us being near the water. Now don't get me wrong she still watched us like a hawk and we NEVER had a pool but I think swim lessons are so so important. My little guy starts mommy and me lessons this next week!

  2. West Chester University has a program that guarantees your child will swim. It is strict. My sisters kids both did it and are great swimmers. Good Luck!

  3. I get nervous with my gal around water, too. She pretends not to have fear, but I know she does--which is good. She took one round of lessons earlier this year, and just started another. And I signed up for a pool membership so I could take her between lessons. I'm just going to keep taking her to lessons until she learns how not to drown. She's come a long way, but has a long way to go. I'm not aiming for an Olympic swimmer here--I just want to know that if she falls in, she can safely get herself to the side of the pool and climb out.

  4. I tried to post earlier, but I think it didn't work. Look into West Chester University Swim Program. It is for kids ages 4 and up, I believe. We did it when my daughter was 4 years old (she is 9 now). They guarantee they will be swimming by the end of the two weeks. My daughter was very cautious and still nervous after the program, but it did work. Not sure if they are all filled up yet, but look at their website. It is 10 total lessons over 2 weeks. Monday thru Friday for two weeks. Works well since they get continuous lessons vs. only once a week. What we found the absolute best was ACAC in West Chester. No need to be members (we are NOT). They do Private and Semi-Private (max of 3 kids). They are very flexible. We usually do an odd-ball time, like 5pm on Fridays and most times end up with private lessons. They are in a small exercise warm water pool with great facilities. I realize it isn't around the corner, but it is what worked for us. We are near rt 100 and rt 113 in Lionville/Exton and drive down there. We never had success with the Lionville YMCA. I hope this helps. Reach out to me if you have more questions. Great Blog. Thanks!

  5. Hi Kate, you may get this comment twice - (computer glitch) I too am worried about water and a few of my friends have taken this course. Then I saw an article about it on the Today Show website yesterday. The timing is not a coincidence I think... watch the videos

    Good luck and keep us posted.

  6. There is also the ISR program that really focuses on reducing drownings. My twin boys did it when they were 2 and can float and swim really well. Here is the website if you want to check it out: They were highlighted yesterday morning on the Today show too!! Such a great program for kids!

  7. Just take the plunge and get your children in swim lessons early babies learn to swim under two much easier than toddlers who are already afraid of the water!

  8. My two youngest boys also did ISR and it was incredible. I wish it had been available for our two older ones where we lived at the time.

  9. Everybody who spends time near water should read this article on how to recognize an active drowning in progress:


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