Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you’re watching a family and you can’t help but think, “What is the world are they thinking? Why would you do something like that?” Your reaction isn’t because they did something silly or absorb but because you truly questioned the judgement of the responsible party. And as much as you think you don’t judge people, there’s a little part of you that does.
I’m pretty sure that I was the party being judged a few weeks back.
It was our last full day in Hawaii and we decided to head back to the North Shore to snorkel. Jasper and Everett both have really enjoyed snorkeling.
Everett in particular. He loves fish and all sea creatures so he was mesmerized to discover the world underwater. He would get so excited when he saw a fish that he would wave at the fish and say hi. When we’d get back to the beach, he would tell me the names of all the fish we saw – humuhumunukunukuapua’a, yellow tang, brown surgeonfish, parrotfish, butterflyfish, etc.
I was amazed that he was willing to try snorkeling and that he figured it out so quickly. It’s kind of tricky – breathing through a small tube but I guess it was me who was more scared.
I don’t like swimming in the open water let alone the ocean. There’s something about putting my face under water – even with a snorkel – that makes me uncomfortable. Those first few breathes are always very short and quick until I can swim and even it out. It makes me feel claustrophobic like I can’t get enough oxygen. But I manage.
We decided to snorkel at Sharks Cove. It’s a little tricky getting in and out of the water because the waves are coming in and it’s rocky with a lot of coral but we did it before. Rather, Ed did it before taking each boy out one at a time while I watched from the beach.
This time we were all going together. I swam with Everett and he did a great job. We swam around for a bit and I was conscious of not swimming too far out even though we’d probably see a lot more cool stuff in deeper water.
The one tricky thing about snorkeling with a kid is that you never know when they are going to stop and pull their head above water, which then forces you to tread water and support them while they try to clear their snorkel.
As we stopped once, I realized that my fins were too big and that I could easily lose one or both while treading water. I tried to stop near some coral so that I could stand while holding onto Everett as he cleared his snorkel. However, I couldn’t get a foothold on the rock. I kept slipping and then I lost my fins.
With fins on, I could create more propulsion to keep us afloat. With only one fin, I wasn’t sure if I would be able to keep both of our heads above water. While we technically weren’t that far from shore, I wasn’t sure how we would get back in. If it were just me I could swim but with a 4 year old?
That’s when panic started to set in
I yelled help. I heard my voice coming out of my mouth and I couldn’t believe that it was me. It was surreal. Everett started yelling for help too since he heard me yelling. Thankfully, he wasn’t freaking out but just mimicking me.
When I yelled, I saw some people look up but then go back to snorkeling. I yelled again and luckily there was a woman near by who heard me and swam over. Everett slipped once from my grip underwater and that’s when I realized how serious this was or could be.
The woman helped me get my footing on the rock. I could see Ed and Jasper – who were much further out – try to swim to us as fast as they could. As we all tried to get our bearings and everyone tried to help calm me down, I held onto Jasper (Ed had taken Everett). He had the biggest smile on his face and all he wanted was to tell me about the green sea turtle he saw swimming.
We swam back into shore and thankfully everyone was OK. Thankfully, neither of my kids were hurt or shaken up by this experience. However, I was shaken up by this experience.
I felt so dumb and helpless. I was the stronger swimmer in the family yet I couldn’t do anything.
More than anything I felt irresponsible for putting my kids in a situation in which they could have gotten hurt and by not taking the proper precautions. They should not have been out there without life jackets. I took it for granted that everything would be OK.
I can only hope that my experience can serve as a reminder to others. While it may feel like a pain to take precautions or it may hurt our egos or our kids may whine about it, it’s worth it. It’s worth being safe.
I really doubt that I will go snorkeling again for a really really really long time.
Do you like snorkeling?
Read more about our trip to Hawaii:
- 16 Lessons I Learned on Summer Vacation
- Finally Surfing
- Little Surfer Dudes
- Learning to Disconnect and Listen
- Sunrise Surf, Yoga Sutras and Mantras
More Ways to Follow Love, Life, Surf