When I was 13, I almost drowned in a wave pool in Montreal. Not once, not twice, but three times in the same afternoon. We were there as part of a SEVEC student exchange where I was welcomed into a home in Trois Rivieres, QC for two weeks and then my host was welcomed to my childhood home back in North Bay for two weeks.
Every day, we would go on some adventure with the entire group where we would need to help each other to communicate and grow as people. On this particular day, our outing was to LaRonde theme park in Montreal.
I was intrigued by the wave pool. Nobody else from our group was interested, but I wanted to spend the afternoon coasting around in the waves. Almost right away, the waves started, and I was having the time of my life. But I found that the pounding waves were a little too much for me. Lucky for me, there was a lifeguard nearby who was able to throw me a lifesaving buoy. I would guess that she was about 16 years old and she was absolutely beautiful. She rescued me, and she pulled me along to the shallow end of the pool where she made sure I was OK before heading back to her lifeguard duty.
I remember the feeling of being overwhelmed by the waves very clearly. It was terrifying, and while I first I tried to find it my body simply gave up, and I went weak like a dummy. If the lifeguard hadn't been there, I'm sure I would've drowned. You think that would be the end of the story, but it's not. As soon as I felt strong enough I headed straight back out into that wave pool and, of course, I was again completely overwhelmed by the waves. Lucky for me, the same lifeguard spotted me right away and saved me again. We laughed, and I was embarrassed but OK. Sure enough not a few minutes later I find myself waiting out into the wave pool for the third time. By now, my hero lifeguard had moved on to help someone else who was having a hard time in the pool. This time, as the waves overwhelmed me, I was on my own. I went under, and I remember thinking this is it. This is how I die.
I went completely under, and I lost track of which direction was up. Then, as I'd given up hope and resolved that this was the end, I felt hands reach under my arms and pull me up to the surface and drag me to the shallow end. I laughed again and thanked her for the third time, but she turned to me and said: "maybe you should go and play somewhere else for a while. The wave pool is not your friend today".
This wouldn't be the last time that I would get myself in over my head. When I first learned how to snowboard, I was too impatient to wait for the lesson that came with my package in the afternoon. I figured how hard can it be and I strapped on the board and headed for the top of the hill. On my first run, I fell so hard that I'm pretty sure I dislocated my elbow. I was in so much pain that I thought my day snowboarding would be over. Then the lesson started a few hours later, and I decided to participate so I could learn where I had gone wrong. I was tentative because of my tender arm, but in five minutes I discovered where I had gone wrong. The quick tips and tricks that the instructor gave us for snowboarding were all I would've needed to hear at the beginning of the day to prevent injury and have a great day overall.
It never occurred to me that my tendency to be over confident in my abilities before developing the necessary skill sets would be something I could pass along to my son. Until, that is, this week when he broke his arm playing on the monkey bars.
He had been practising monkey bars for the entire summer, and he's falling off more times than I can count. I was never particularly worried because the base underneath the monkey bars at his favourite park is a thick, soft sand. On that fateful day, I watched him traverse the monkey bars back-and-forth twenty bars each way at least half a dozen times. Then, I watched him do something that another child had done the day before. He reached out instead of grabbing the next bar in the row and tried to skip a bar and go two at a time. Between overextending himself and the change in how your body bounces when reaching that far he was able to catch the bar but not hold on. I watched helplessly as his entire body weight swung through and he lost his balance and went tumbling towards the ground.
He landed directly on his right hand snapping his elbow back further than it's meant to. Immediately, I jumped the fence and ran in to where he had collapsed and was now writhing in agony and grasping his arm.
After a visit to the hospital, he now has a cast. He's not really in pain because the cast stabilizes his arm in a comfortable position. Next week, we will be back at the orthopaedic clinic at the Hospital for Sick Kids where he will get a more permanent version of the cast. He will be 'the kid with the cast' for the first week of school next week, and I'm sure he'll love all of the attention.
I've managed to go my entire life without learning that I need to beef up my skills before trying something new and I've hurt myself or nearly killed myself sometimes. At this point, I'm torn between whether I should be guiding Hudson not to try things because he might get hurt and encouraging him to be like me and sometimes leap before you look. For now, monkey bars season is over and so is scooter season and the season for playing around and not paying attention.
Hudson will be forced to be careful to protect his arm until well into the school year.