I remember putting my second born, as a fearless 3 year old in swim lessons for the first time. He stayed at the edge of the pull, threatening to fall in at any minute. His swim instructors were young girls who couldn’t even pronounce his name properly. As an observer from across the room, I was helpless to keep him safe. I wanted to scream, “WATCH MY BABY! CAN’T YOU SEE HE’S ABOUT TO FALL IN THE POOL ANY MINUTE?!!!”
And I am a swimmer.
It would be too much if I couldn’t swim. A new USA swimming study had the same findings. It was like another piece to the puzzle I’m fussing with here. I had read before that Black parents, out of fear, turn down free swim lessons. I had assumed that the fear they were talking about was personal fear, ie., ‘I can’t swim, so I stay away from the water. I can keep my children safe by keeping them away from the water.’
But this study shows it’s more a fear of watching your child drown while learning how to swim. This fear doesn’t go away once the children learn to swim, either. I can’t imagine anything more horrifying than watching helpless as my child drowned. That is the fear that paralyzes too many black parents.
So my conclusion is the same as it was last time. We as parents must learn to swim. It is key to saving our children from drowning.
cross-posted on www.imswimming.net