Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The dangers of swimming.

This Fall, my mom had a pool put in her backyard. This was a big deal because my parents have always been afraid of having a pool since neither of them ever learned how to swim. So, while the pool has been a great source of fun for the rest of us, it has been a source of fear for my mom. She worries that she'll walk out there and see all the children in the neighborhood drowning in her pool at once and has convinced herself that she would get disoriented and drown if she jumped in to save them.

Her worries have entertained us almost as much as the pool has.

This weekend, the subject of drowning children came up again (it's a favorite and recurrent topic since the installation of the pool) and we got to hear about another one of my mom's fears:

Mom: I'm just saying that if a kid were drowning at the bottom of the pool, I wouldn't be able to reach them.
Erin: Yes you would. You would have to just go under the water and grab them.
Mom: I can't.
Erin: Why not?
Mom: Because I can't put my face in the water - I'd breathe it in.
Erin: You'd breathe in water?
Mom: Yeah.
Erin: No you wouldn't.
Mom: Yes I would.
Catherine: No, Mom - it's instinctual. Your body wouldn't let you just breathe in water unless you just absolutely couldn't hold your breath anymore.
Erin: It's like when you take a shower and you put your face in the water.
Mom: I never do that. I always keep my face away from the water because I don't want to breathe it in.
Erin: Oh good God . . .

We told her we'd show her how to hold her breath on Sunday when we all came over to swim. We thought we'd start with just making her put her face in the water so that she could see that she wouldn't aspirate half the pool in the process. So, when Sunday arrived, we all got in the pool and my mom surprised us by swimming about 2 feet with her face under water. It was quite a big deal - apparently, Emma and Ben (9 and 6 years old) had worked with her the day before and taught her all she needed to know about swimming. It was quite the accomplishment and Emma and Ben are impressive teachers.

So, with the whole face-under-water dilemma out of the way, we thought we'd work on what I like to call "Save the Drowning Kid" drills - that's the kind of frolicking Spring fun we Palmores have. For these drills, we threw a blue ball into the water and let it sink to the bottom of the shallow end of the pool which is only about 3 feet deep. Once the ball hit the bottom, my mom had to retrieve it. This was WAY more entertaining than I could have ever dreamed because she had some trouble propelling herself down to the ball. So the result was that she would just sort of flail around on the surface of the water while reaching toward the ball with everything she had. My 5 year old niece Avery could NOT understand the problem and just kept saying "Like THIS, Dearsie" and then she'd dive down and get the ball in less than 3 seconds. My mom, spurred on by Avery's challenges, would get a determined look in her eye, put her face in the water, and commence to flailing again. It was awesome.

At one point, she was able to stretch out and reach the ball so her head was probably about a foot under water. She came up and we cheered for her. Then we had this conversation:

Mom: My right eye is hurting me a little.
Catherine: Yeah - it's the chlorine. Takes a while to get used to.
Mom: No - I think it's the pressure from being so far under water.
Catherine: What?
Mom: I think it's from the pressure. You know how that happens.
Erin: Mom - you were like a foot under water.
Mom: Yeah, I know. [nodding like Erin was agreeing with her]
Erin: [going along with it] Yeah - it probably made your eyes bug out. Mine do it all the time when I stick my head under water. You have to be careful - they'll pop right out on ya. One of the dangers of owning a pool.
Catherine: Mom, it's just the chlorine.
Mom: Yeah [again nodding like I've just agreed with her] - I think it's from the decompression.
Erin and Catherine: [laughing and wiping tears from our eyes]
[Tammy walks back out from inside the house and walks over to us]
Catherine: Well . . . apparently, Mom's got "the Bends."

And to think . . . we have a whole summer of this material ahead of us.

It's just too good to be true!!


Anonymous said...

I'm so glad I go on to read your blog tonight. I shall sleep well.

Under His Wing said...

Oh Catherine! Great giggle this morning. And to think I actually witnessed a brief moment in this episode of life...I am blessed! Claire had such fun with you guys on Sunday! Thanks for having her! And Dearsie...you go girl!!!

Anonymous said...

so funny....i snorted. thank you for the laugh catherine and nora!
miss you catchy!

Catherine said...

Well then I miss you, too . . . who are you? :)