Swimming After Undertow

At the beach, my 5-year-old daughter, 3-year-old son, and husband entered the sea for a swim. The ocean was tame, neither harsh nor placid. Still, swimming near the lifeguards, the children wearing flotation vests… the three were cautious.

My littlest and I played in the sand, nursed, and watched passing sign-towing airplanes as the rest of our little family reveled in the sea. Then my daughter came running towards me. Blood dripping from her mouth, tears from her eyes. Shocked, I ran towards her.

“I hit the bottom!” She sobbed. My husband and son lumbered up the beach in a daze. Their hair matted and splattered with sand. “A big wave broke farther out than usual. We all got taken down. We’re ok though.” My husband explained.

I put a towel to my daughter’s lip; nothing but a quick-healing scrape. My son was unharmed. “I’m sorry that happened,” I told her, “we all get undertowed at some point, but do you know what’s most important?” She shook her head, now calmed after her tumble. “The most important thing is that you get back in.” “Noooo!” She protested. I needed a different angle.

“You’re going to kindergarten. When you tell your new friends about how you got bowled over by a wave and hit the bottom of the ocean, what would be a more rockstar ending: ‘I didn’t go back in because I was too scared’ or ‘I went right back in because I’m not afraid’?” She smiled. “I should go back in.” She said. Then her eyes widened and her eyebrows tilted, “What if I get pulled under again?” “You likely won’t,” I reassured her, “but if you do, Daddy will be right there with you. You’ll swim right in front of the lifeguards like you did last time. You’ll be safe.”

A few minutes later, into the sea she went. She exited victorious, smiling, and proud. That’s my girl!

 

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