You Can’t Teach Drowning

Playing in the park with my niece

she’s two and a half and the cutest kid you’ve ever seen

and she’s not into the swings

she’s into climbing

and though she’s a bit young to be climbing things as high as a basketball net

I stand beneath her supporting her by the diaper

letting her climb as far as I can reach

the kid is fearless

she’ll jump right into any body of water if you’ll let her

she’s two, she can’t swim

she doesn’t care, that doesn’t stop her

in fact, she gets mad when you try to stop her

from jumping feet first into the deep end

without a single swimming lesson

she’s not even a pollywog, no where near a tadpole

but that doesn’t stop her

she trusts all the elements are on her side

and I don’t want to take this from her

but, I can’t let her just jump into the pool

if I was standing in the pool, I’d let her jump

but overdressed as I am for swimming

I don’t

instead holding my niece by her right wrist

stopping her from jumping in

and she fights me

“Let go! Let go!” she shouts

struggling to be free

so she can leap into the pool

and discover she can’t swim

I want to spare her this lesson

save her from ever understanding drowning

yet I know she needs to know

but not today.

I scoop her up

and carry her to get ice cream.

3 thoughts on “You Can’t Teach Drowning

  1. granbee

    This sounds so very much like my daughter when we first took her to the beach and she leaped out of my arms into the surf and came up gurgling and laughing. She became a competitive swimmer all the way through college! Get in the water with your niece very soon, Peter, okay?


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