Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Baby Got Skills

Last week, one of the morning shows ran a story about teaching your baby to swim. Everything about this idea sounds right, if I don't think about it too deeply. 

Video showed an instructor with a very small baby, like a year old or younger, at the poolside. Plop! The baby dropped into the water and promptly turned himself over and floated. Within a minute, he flipped himself over again and swam to the edge and crawled out. 

What could possibly be wrong with this plan? Let me share a few thoughts on the subject. If you could get an honorary doctorate in worrying, I'd have one. I know accidents will happen. 

My first thought is that a false sense of security floated like a cloud over the participants, quickly followed by the thought that parents who go to this length to protect their children don't let them wander around pools unattended. 

The next thing that came to mind was that no one mentioned the shock factor of being a baby who finds themselves unexpectedly plunged in cold water. Working with a baby playfully in a nice pool, surrounded by helpful adults, is not the same as the specter of the unattended pool that caused the initial parental fears. In fact, it would be more realistic to think that the baby might accidentally fall into a pool and take a big gulp of water right into their lungs - not exactly calming for a child. Then you have a very, very (did you hear me say "very") immature child attempting to form a rational, mature plan of attack: "What do I do now?"

History has an impact on my way of thinking. Fire safety was a biggie with me, and I drilled a protocol into the brains of Juggernaut (then 7 years old) and Magoo (5 years old). In the event of a fire, they both knew that they were to leave the house immediately and go to a certain spot in the yard where we would all meet. It seemed so clear to them until a broiler pan caught fire and the flames shot out of the oven. As I tried to grab flour to put it out, I shouted for them to go outside, but they froze in their tracks at the door. A second time, I yelled for them to get outside, as smoke filled my kitchen and living room. Thankfully, the fire was contained. 

"Why didn't you go outside?" I questioned. 

Juggernaut summed it in simple terms: "I didn't know it would be so hard to leave you behind."

I'd missed a big part of the instruction. When the time came, everything about the plan seemed wrong to a seven year old. Forget about safety. Why would you leave your Mom in a fire? Every other life lesson had been geared to the needs of others: say please, thank you, turn the other cheek, lend a hand. I'd never said the words, "Save yourself." Perhaps that was a very revealing slip; subconsciously, I believe it is always the job of the adult to look out for the child, too.

It's summertime. If drowning is responsible for 1 in 4 childhood deaths, keep them away from water. We're the tall people who lock the doors and carry the babies around. It's not the babies responsibility to save themselves. If babies were capable of rational, calm, responsibly mature thought they wouldn't be babies, right? No one seems to talk about that aspect of baby skills - the lack of thinking skills, like cognition.

Following that line of thinking, why don't we teach babies how to type before they can spell words? They would have this awesome comfort level with the keyboard, and it would come in handy. Actually, I can't think of any danger factor - with the exception of keyboard drool and I've learned to deal with that (all my family members drool over something they see online).

Thinking skills proceed appropriate choice of actions. Why focus on a physical skill before the thinking skills are present?

For further research, I asked a friend's baby to participate in a trial of Baby Keyboarding 101. After six lessons, I interviewed the child prior to this blog, via email.

Question #1: Do you think that swim lessons, at the age of one, will guarantee your safety around water?

Answer:  sh;piehp'an[; pjapocheroddm,m p[p[74a5d,lkpw ,sbualokkk;;;ieuq868d8



  1. Hi, Cherdo! I believe in getting babies used to the water at an early age and teaching them to flip over and swim to safety. I agree that parents should not consider that a free pass to shirk their responsibilities. Parents should not be lulled into thinking they don't have to keep a close eye on their children, especially if they are anywhere near water. Laboratory conditions cannot replicate the chaotic experience of a child falling into a pool or wandering into a murky pond.

    I watch the local news every day and already this year there have been several tragic incidents of children drowning including twin girls who died together in a neighbor's pool. A week ago a toddler boy drowned in his own family's pool. As I'm sure you know but some parents don't seem to realize, it doesn't take a lot of water to kill a child. Disaster can strike if they are left unattended in the bathtub or in a kiddie wading pool. Even a wash bucket with a couple inches of water in it can be lethal. Parents give the same lame excuses every time. "He/she was out of my sight for only a few seconds or minutes" or "I fell asleep and when I woke up he/she was gone." Those excuses don't cut it. If you are responsible for watching a child that's exactly what you need to do. Refrain from texting, sexting, drinking and drugging. (Sorry for the rant.)

    Another disturbing trend is the apparent spike in the number of parents leaving babies inside hot vehicles. Locally a woman was arrested the other day after leaving her baby daughter trapped in a hot car TWICE in one day! Luckily the baby survived although the poor thing is unlucky if she continues to be raised by that negligent mother. Another local case was a man who was supposed to take his child to day care but visited a friend first and "fell asleep," leaving the child to bake to death in his car. Unless the man suffers from narcolepsy his explanation is a transparent lie. I'm thinking it was either a booty call or involved drugs or both.

    Please weigh in on this, Cherdo. Is it just my imagination or is being a child in America a lot more risky than it used to be decades ago?

  2. America has created a riskier landscape for children by not allowing them to be children. We've got parents who push them in sports on one hand and fail to monitor them on the other. They're placed in situations that they should NOT be in, and that leads to risk - where is the common sense?

    Tragedy always gets top billing, so it's hard to tell if it is worse, or just more visible.

    I keep thinking that the news will report that the hot car/toddler death in Georgia was because they had kept the child in the car all day before, rather than pay daycare. Just speculation. It disturbed me that the parents were so nonchalant about the child's death. These cases are burned into our brains.

    This is a worst case scenario, but do you remember Jessica Dubroff, the seven year old pilot? She died shortly after take-off on the second leg of her quest to be the youngest pilot to complete a round-trip flight cross country. I watched them interview her on television. That quest was not something that child would chase without push from an adult. Her Dad said he couldn't believe she was getting the media attention, that it was no big deal. Yet, they recovered fifteen pounds of baseball caps emblazoned with "Sea to Shining Sea April 1996" from the wreckage.

    Naw, Dad didn't want attention; he was a flight instructor. It was all the seven year old. Do you think Jessica ordered those? My opinion, worth every cent you pay for it, is that Dad saw his claim to fame right their on his lap - his seven year old daughter. Where was the common sense? Who gained what?

    We push and push kids farther and farther away from the safety of home and the backyard. Parents fail to create a sanctuary for kids in the first place, in many cases. Careers are more important than family. More messed up kids are having kids.

    It's not the America we were born in. I'm not sure it's better on all levels. And I question whether it has enough parental guidance to go around.

    1. I appreciate your reply, Cherdo, and I agree 100%.

  3. I know I left a comment on this post. Was it pornographic? Did you have to delete it? How nasty was it on a scale of one to ten?


    1. Ha ha ha - Seriously, I have never deleted a post (oh, I'm totally on board with doing so - but not yet, thankfully). You'd be the last person I'd delete, Janie J! You're not even in my spam folder, so I have no answer! Aliens?

    2. Oh, yes. It's the aliens again. They follow me constantly.


Thanks for your personal yada, yada, yada,
Love, Cherdo