June 24, 2011I Failed My Son, But He Didn't Fail His Friend
Dear Dr. Laura,
Posted by Staff at 12:00 AM
An amazing thing happened last weekend. My son, who just turned 10 in April, was invited to a birthday/pool party with a bunch of his friends. There was approximately 16 boys his age there, plus many parents. Unfortunately, I was not there, which as you'll hear, will NEVER be the situation again. My son noticed one of his good buddies struggling in the water and jumped in to help him. His friend was literally drowning and was rightfully panicked, so in the process of my son trying to save him, he was being drowned himself. My son told me he knew at that moment either he or his friend, or both, were going to die. With tears in his eyes, as he told me this, he said, "Mom, I had to get away from him to catch my breath, but I only left for like 3 seconds "..Ugh, he was struggling with guilt by leaving his buddy to drown. Then he told me as soon as he caught his breath, he swam back to his friend and shoved him as hard as he could until he was in the shallow end. Thankfully, they were both ok, very shaken up, but physically ok. Naturally, as I was hearing this story on my way home from the party, I was overwhelmed by many, many things. Relief, my son was ok. Anger, because where were the adults? Guilt, because I wasn't there. Sadness, my son had to go through such a traumatizing event. But even more than those, pride, at my son's courage and quick thinking. Upon further questioning of the situation, I asked him why he swam back to his friend when he was almost drowned himself and this is what he told me, "I would give my life in order to save his." He said this without any thought or pause! Yes, this is where I could no longer hold back my tears. Words cannot truly express properly how special my son is! He is a hero and this world is extremely lucky to have him. I am extremely lucky to have him!!
Obviously, I spoke with the mom who hosted the party and to make a long conversation short, there was an adult there who did witness my son and his friend in the water, but did not realize it was for real until he saw my son shove this boy into the shallow end. At that point (which was WAY too late), he realized it was serious. Apparently, this other boy does not know how to swim and was too embarrassed to tell anyone. (His mother was not there also.) There are MANY MANY things wrong with all of the details of this situation and I can sit and point fingers all day long, but the bottom-line is I failed my son. I was not there to supervise and assumed the kids would be monitored more closely. I made a very critical mistake that luckily, I am able to walk away from and say it was a learning moment I will NEVER repeat. So many parents drop their children off at pool parties without hesitation and make the same assumptions as I did, but I'm here to remind them it only takes one second and I guarantee, no one watches a kid better, than their own parent!! I will never forget that!
Sincerely one proud mom,