When Sweet Daughter was almost three, we went crabbing off the dock at my sister’s house. Not wanting to hold her hand the whole weekend (and result in neither of us having fun), I ran over to the local marina, bought a life jacket for her and told her if she fell in and got stung by a jelly-fish, Daddy would have to pee on her where she got stung.* I got a strange look or two from her, but she was careful not to fall in. We’ve been to the beach a couple of times since then, and I just snap on the life jacket and turn her loose. She has a BLAST and loves the water.
So, while were in Charlotte last month, we stayed at a hotel with a pool. By the last morning we were there, SD figured she had things under control and wanted to take her life jacket off. I said that was fine as long as she didn't let go of the floaty-donut-ring-thing she also had. Well, her grip on that lasted all of about 45 seconds. Luckily Michael W.’s wife had spent some time with her the previous day, teaching her how to use her arms AND legs (at the same time, even!) to propel herself around. She swam underwater for about 4-5 feet until she got to the railing and came up for air. (Somehow the concept of just STANDING UP since she was in the shallow end didn't occur to her.) We three adults were starting to kick off our shoes and take off our watches, all the while jockeying for position to go in after her when she surfaced. I think she was under water for less than 10 seconds, but it seemed a whole lot longer. Before she had a chance to realize she was scared, I said "You do realize what just happened, don't you?" The annoyed look on her face said "I dropped the damn floaty ring, sank like a rock, and without any assistance from an ADULT (thank-you-very-much!) had to save my own a$$. Weren't you watching??"
I said, "You just swam underwater. By yourself." As it sunk (hahah! “sunk”!) in, she started beaming like she’d just swum the English Channel. Later on, while talking about how well she handled the situation, I casually reminded her not to try to breathe under water.
“Why not, Momma? You said there was oxygen in water!”
I am in so far over my head (wow – I wasn’t even trying for that one!), it’s not even funny. She starts swimming lessons on Monday.
*Yes, it's an old wives tale, but it did the job of keeping her from falling in the drink.