It is probably one of my biggest fears. The boys getting in to trouble in water. Perhaps because we always walk by water, go on holiday by water, on the sea. We have always been very strict on swimming and rules by the water.
Today, with the amount of snow melting and unwavering rain, perhaps walking by the river wasn’t the wisest of choices. But the tree cover was welcomed, as was the opportunity to get the boys outside to run and play with friends.
I am sure I am not the only Mum who does it. But I have escape routes and quick exits planned in my own home and anywhere we sleep or spend time. And as the boys played on the banks of the river and slipped and slid in amongst the trees, I thought through my emergency action plan if one of them fell in to the fast moving, swell and swirl of the river.
I would start running to get ahead of the river, while taking off my big eider coat, firstly because it would prevent me moving when wet, but also had pockets full of phones and keys and shopping lists. Then I would remove my scarf, not because it was cashmere, but because if it got caught, it would strangle me. But I really didn’t want to go in, because it looked bloody fast and bloody cold and I put it to the back of my mind, never thinking I would have to enact out my plan.
It was a fun walk, watching the boys climb fallen trees, throw sticks for the dogs, slipping in the mud and generally being boys and having fun; reminding them to be careful by the river, to stay back.
And then it happened. In a blink of a second, as I shouted to Willy to get off a low step because it could be slippery… that was it. His leg disappeared and then the rest of him followed in to the brown water.
And the image of his blue ski coat floating at speed, with his little blond head bobbing, calling and crying…. It is still haunting me now.
In those moments, the adrenalin kicks in. I don’t really recall anything…. Other than suddenly being up to my boobs in water grabbing at my little boy and dragging him out of the current and pushing him up the mudbank, onto tree roots and the arms of my friend.
Now maybe by thinking of my emergency plan, some could argue I brought the situation on myself by attraction. But all I know and am comforted by, is that without thinking, my brain automatically engaged and my coat was dry enough on the bank to wrap a derobed little man in something warm and dry and my cashmere hat and scarf were on a bush.
AS I held my little man in to the car, he snuggled in, ‘I thought I would never see you again… I am sorry I didn’t listen, I will do whatever punishment you want.’ My little drama queen. He was lucky. We were lucky. He is a good swimmer. I had a plan. And we all learnt a valuable lesson and reviewed those over hot chocolate in front of the aga as we waited for the hot water to heat up. And that was the first time I felt the cold of the water.