Yesterday we went to the home of Sweet Babou’s Dad and Stepmom, AKA Pappa and Miss Jilly, to watch fireworks. They live on a man-made reservoir/lake and it is safe for the nearby little townships to shoot off fireworks there, even in the drought, because the fireworks will explode over the water and not the parched, please-set-fire-to-me woodlands. There was to be a general family gathering, with the obligatory cook-out and swimming in the lake, followed by a pontoon boat excursion onto the lake to watch fireworks explode overhead. The girls were ecstatic to be going, and Sweet Babou and I were willing to brave 104 degree weather so that he could visit his Dad and the girls could frolic with relatives on a boat.
It’s a three and a half hour drive, but we stopped after two and a half hours to have lunch with Aunt Molly and her beau, which was fun even though the nap-less and thus cranky Spock was incessantly whiny. Molly is Lilo’s Godmother, and Lilo takes advantage of this. Many is the time Molly was sweetly conned into getting Lilo something from the buffet, so that Lilo did not need to bestir herself. Moreover, we were at a Chinese restaurant with a koi pond in the lobby, so every adult was badgered, multiple times, to take the Fokkerlings to look at these finned miracles, since the little twerps had NEVER seen a fish before EVER.
The first thing the girls did upon arrival at Pappa and Miss Jilly’s house was beg to go out on Pappa’s pontoon boat and be pulled along behind it on a big inflatable circular tube, which is called tubing here in the good old USA. The girls, well slathered with the highest SPF sunscreen available to mortal man and ensconced in life jackets, had a freaking blast tubing. After watching her sisters do it, even Spock wanted to have a turn. We let Spock into the tube with her sisters, and gave the older girls strict instructions that if the baby fell out (a minuscule risk considering Pappa was driving the boat at a crawl and Lilo had her arms wrapped around the baby and the sides of the tube were almost as tall the baby) they were to jump into the water and stay with the baby while we turned the boat around to get them. Then happiness ensued while the boat slowly towed the three Fokkerlings slowly behind it. Eventually, Stitch decided she wanted back into the shade of the pontoon, leaving Lilo and Spock to tube on alone:
What I didn’t know was that Spock’s high-tech lifejacket had a flaw. If I had known that, there was no way in hell I would have let her tube with her sisters. I am grateful unto Almighty God that I discovered the flaw in her jacket under circumstances that placed her in the least amount of danger possible, which happened shortly after we brought the pontoon boat into the dock.
After tubing for a while, Pappa brought the boat back to his dock so the girls could swim there in the little inlet off his back yard. Other families were doing the same thing, and the inlet was dotted with swimmers and the small forms of children bobbing in life jackets. The water was warm as a bath, which made me fear the brain eating amoebas so the girls were instructed to keep their faces and ears OUT of the water. I know the risk that they would get infected was statistically close to zero, but my kind of paranoia doesn’t need no stinkin’ logic. Anyway, with their lifejackets on, it would have been hard for them to get their heads wet anyway, but they were still under orders.
Lilo and Stitch clambered down the swim steps of the dock and were paddling around like otters, happy as clams. I wasn’t wearing a bathing suit, and was planning on just sitting on the dock in the shade and watch them like hawks, which is my default obsessive hillbilly method of parenting. Spock wanted in to swim too. I helped her carefully down the ladder. She splashed for about 30 seconds, and the life jacket, which was made especially for babies to keep their heads out of the water, rolled her over and trapped her face in the lake.
Magically, I was able to turn her over so fast that she didn’t even have time to sputter. That’s when I noticed I was standing up to my neck in the lake. Fully dressed. Huh. I didn’t remember deciding to jump into the lake. There was no splash. Sweet Babou reports that I started the sentence, “The baby’s …” on the dock and then finished saying “lifejacket isn’t working right” in the water. I didn’t shout. I just became as one with the lake.
You know, if asked I would have assumed I would have tried kneeling down first to see if I could reach her. Or asked her sister, just an arm’s length away, to turn the baby right way up and bring her the 12 inches to the ladder. I don’t like getting in lakes. I hate having wet clothes on. I regard the feeling of even a sodden swimsuit as an awful thing; I would prefer if they were instantly dry again when I get out of a pool. So why not try at least one of other option before going into the drink fully dressed? Well, that would have required taking the time to think and I did not have a single idea pass through my frontal lobes. Nope. My lizard-brain said, “Into that water bitch!” and I obeyed posthaste.
Since I was soaked anyway, I just stayed in the lake with the girls for a while, and fixed Spock’s lifejacket. The straps required adjustment, and then it worked a treat. This is good information for next time, when I will bring a bathing suit and we will swim FIRST to make sure the lifejackets are all in perfect working order. I have tried not to dwell on the fact I had my baby in a tube with non-functional lifejacket, because that way lies dragons, panic attacks, and gibbering.
When I went to get out of the lake, I also discovered a problem. Apparently my foot had been on one side of the swim ladder when I *needed* to be in the water. Thus, my foot had simply taken care of the object in it’s way by ripping it, bolts and all, out of the wood of the dock. There is no bruise on my foot, so I honestly am not sure how I did it. Fortunately, it was a simple matter to re-bolt the swim ladder back to the dock.
The rest of the day was wonderful. Dry clothes were procured for me. Hamburgers and all the cook-out trimmings were consumed. The baby had Cheetos for the first time and became instantly addicted. The fireworks display was awesome and the girls, sitting shoulder to shoulder with other young cousins in he front of the boat, were all thrilled to their toes to watch the show. They caught lightening bugs. They waved sparkers around. Sweet Babou and I drove home late in that night, talking all the way with our girls snoozing in their car seats.
It was a very good day, and we plan to do it next year.