Papa, NeNe & Water Safety

Papa and NeNeDo you remember growing up and having your parent’s right arm sling out across your chest pushing you back against your seat faster than you could blink as they were slamming on their brakes?!?   I do!  While my kids aren’t old enough to ride in the front seat yet, I’ve found myself doing it to passengers in my car once or twice in my lifetime, and my daddy immediately pops into my head.

You see, my daddy has been nicknamed “Mr. Safety” from members in my family.  When we were little I also remember whenever he was driving and we got to where we were going, if you unbuckled your seat belt before he turned off the ignition you would get yelled at and have to buckle back up.  He’d wait a while just to make a point, and then turn off the ignition.  It’s kind of ironic that his nickname is “Mr. Safety” or is it, “Safety is my middle name?!?” because there was this one time when my daddy removed the safety lever from one of his saws and proceeded to try and cut through a pipe….well maybe I’m not getting all of my facts straight about the particular saw or what he was cutting through…but I will tell you he ended up having surgery, severing nerves and having a lengthy recovery…..but that’s a story for another day.  I think it’s also important to note that even though he took the safety lever off, he kept his safety glasses on the entire time!

Safety has been drilled into my head since I was little.  For the most part, I’m a rule follower.  There are times I go a little crazy and cross the street without using a crosswalk or get the occasional speeding ticket, but 98% of the time, I follow rules.  It drives my husband crazy!!!

Brian Dock

My parents did a great job raising us.  They knew the importance of being able to swim and we grew up swimming and being comfortable in the water.  Another rule that “Mr. Safety” always insisted on was that we wear a life-jacket anytime we were in the water.  Sure we went swimming in pools without one once we learned how to swim, but he always made us wear a life-jacket at the river regardless of how well we swam.  I remember to this day being so annoyed by the cumbersomeness of a life-jacket and I often tried to talk him out of making me wear mine.  He never gave in to my pleas.  For that, I am grateful because I know the absolute importance of water safety with my children because of my dad.  He even let me pick out a hot pink life-jacket to make it more bearable.  He still has it to this day, and I actually wore it this past weekend when I took Bri and Molly out to the river to swim with my parents, affectionately known to the kids as Papa and NeNe. 

Daddy and Molly swimmingI think one of the things that everyone should learn in life, is how to swim.  One could say they don’t need to learn because they never go swimming and have no desire to go.  While that may be true, and that person may never encounter a time in their life where swimming is necessary, the chance that you could be in a life or death situation is reason enough to learn.  You may decide to stay away from water, but I can guarantee you that you might not be as lucky keeping your children away as well.

Me and Bri DockOur children……They are the reason we do so many things in life.  The reason we make sacrifices to give them the best possible life.  The reason we try to overcome our weaknesses or addictions so we can be a better role model for them.  The reason we stay up all night pulling a double shift just so we can buy them that new pair of shoes they are just dying to have.  To me personally, my children come into play for just about every decision I make throughout the day.  I hope for those of you out there that don’t know how to swim, you will consider taking a class and learning.  It’s never too late and you’re never too old!

Bri Dock 2Swimming safety is important for all children, but it’s especially important to special needs children.  I cannot emphasize how important swimming lessons are for a special needs child!  For my son Bri, it will probably take many years of lessons before he learns to swim.  He may never learn, but I’m certainly going to give him every opportunity to try.

There are many ways he can’t control his body.  He has seizures, he lacks control of some fine motor skills, and the connections in his brain seem to be misfiring and get jumbled up so he can’t make his body or mouth do what he wants it to do.  On top of that, autistic individuals usually have to be motivated to do things that we ask them to do, i.e., that aren’t their idea.  Brian could watch YouTube videos of different trains for hours but can’t find the patience to stand in line for a few minutes or attempt to try something challenging without having a meltdown.

If we’re comparing an individual on the spectrum to a neurotypical individual, it would be similar to being able to talk all day about what you’re truly passionate about but get frustrated and shutdown when your wife tries to make you talk about your feelings.  Ha!  I had to throw that in for Morgan’s sake!

Bri has also lost two amazing little friends of his to drownings and so, as I shared on my Facebook page, swimming lessons for special needs children is a subject very near and dear to my heart.  Bri, like many of those on the spectrum, is drawn to water like a moth is drawn to a flame.   If Bri ran away and found water, he’d drown in an instant!  Like many autistic individuals, he has no concept of dangerous situations.  He runs into the road and laughs about it.  He’ll dart away from us, no matter where we are, if he sees something he wants.  Add the fact that he could have a seizure at any time and have an even greater chance of drowning…..well, he’s a ticking time bomb and it scares the life out of me!

Luckily, our trip to the river this past weekend was a success and fun was had by all.  Life-jackets were used by Bri, Molly, me and my parents.  Another important thing to note which may be obvious to some, is that even if you’re the best swimmer out there, it’s important for you to wear a life-jacket as well.   Swimming in deep water with your children, especially in the river or ocean where the water isn’t transparent, puts you in a situation where a dangerous situation can arise out of nowhere.  You must remain constantly vigilant and be able to help your child if a situation arises without jeopardizing your own safety.

It had been awhile since I’d taken the kids to the river, so I wasn’t sure how they would respond.  Before we even got there, Bri and Molly were so excited to see their Papa and NeNe that they were both yelling and happy the entire drive.  Once we pulled into the driveway, I thought Bri’s head was doing to explode from all the screeching and flapping!  Like my daddy said to me when the day was over, “There’s certainly nothing about the water that boy doesn’t like!”  So true daddy, so true!

Now I’m not going to just talk about the wonderful moments because that wouldn’t be giving you a true picture of what our lives are really like on a day to day basis.  While my kids had an incredible time at the river and I can’t wait to take them back, it wasn’t easy!  For the most part, Molly did a great job listening to me when I was talking about water safety and rules for the day.  There are times though when she is just your typical 2 year old and that defiant streak and strong will beat you to a bloody pulp!!  There are days she makes me want to pull my hair out…but I digress.  Molly did a great job listening and I think most of that was due to her unease around such a huge body of water when she’s been used to a bathtub or the occasional pool.

Before we went down to the water, Bri was running around the house trying to rearrange the furniture, make the refrigerator shoot water and ice across the floor, stick anything he could possibly find down the vents in the house (a constant problem we have that currently needs to be addressed at the house where we just moved), stack cushions, look in every closet and pull out all of it’s belongings, rearrange pictures, mess with the blinds, try to dart out a door to get down to the water, put inedible things in his mouth, open the refrigerator, as well as a number of other things.  It is EXHAUSTING!!!

NeNe wasn’t there yet, so my dad and I divided and conquered!  There’s nothing like teamwork!  I got Bri ready to swim, put sunscreen on him and secured his life- jacket while dad changed and then took him down to swim.  After getting myself and Molly ready, we joined him down at the dock.  When I tell people certain places would be too difficult to take both kids by myself, swimming (especially at the river) would definitely qualify!  While getting Molly ready, NeNe arrived and that helped me out even more.  There really is nothing like family!

The kids had so much fun!  So many people know the business side of my dad, but if you could see how he is with the kids and how rambunctious he gets, well you’d never take him seriously again.  He’s that much fun and Bri and Molly love it!  They can’t get enough of their NeNe either.  I am so incredibly blessed with such a wonderful family!

Watching the kids swim and dad play with them made me smile but what really lite up my face was watching dad take the kids out on the jet ski.  Oh my goodness!!!  I haven’t seen either one of them that excited in such a long time.  Talk about a positive reinforcer to get Bri to talk.  He was excitedly screaming, “GO GO!!” and “MORE!!” every time my dad would come back to the dock with the jet ski.  Molly was the same and demanded more every time he stopped too.

Thank you for such an incredible day, daddy and Nancy.  I am blessed without measure to have you for parents and for my kids to have you as grandparents.  We all love you so much!

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