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Inspirational Reads

A Tale of True Heroism

June 26, 2007

I've been childless for something like three weeks now. At the beginning of June, on my daughter's last day of school, we took them up to Marietta, OH and met my mother-in-law there for dinner (at the Marietta Brewing Company, by the way) where she took the kids and we headed back down the road to North By God Carolina. Mother-in-law and children went north and west, ending up in South Bend eventually, where they hung out for a couple of weeks. While there, my children had some swimming lessons where my daughter (who will be six on Friday) learned how to swim underwater, without floatation devices, how to dive, all that good stuff. My son, who will be three in July, learned how to not be afraid of the water. I suspect he was easily coaxed into the water by Miss Abby, his swim instructor.

Anyway, for the past few days, my children have been in Oklahoma, visiting their great-grandparents (my wife's grandparents through her mom's side). The great-grandparents have a pool, which is one of the main reasons why the kids went through swim lessons, so that they could swim safely in the pool.

This sets the scene. And now for the action.

I came home on Friday and sat in my chair, and my wife came over and sat near me. If you've ever seen Knute Rockne: All American (and if you haven't, I only ask, why haven't you subjected yourself to this fine piece of American film???) there's a scene at the end where Knute's wife has a chill about the same time that Knute's plane goes down in a Kansas farmer's field. That's kind of the look my wife had as she approached me. She worried that the little boy would fall into the pool and no one would know and then we'd have no more little boy. I told my wife not to worry as our daughter would watch over him, and she asked what she could do, and I told her that she could scream for help.

I think you see where this is going. But I'll finish the story.

We call the kids later that night, and my wife talks to my daughter and nothing big happens. Then she talks to the little boy and he says "Sissy saved me." To which my wife responded "What?" And he follows up with "My life. Sissy saved my life."

At this point, my wife says, "That's nice honey...could you please put Grandmommy on the phone?"

My mother-in-law quickly starts to explain.

Apparently, after dinner, people weren't really paying attention to the little boy and he decided he wanted to go swimming, so he just walked down the steps and into the pool. Without floatation devices. A few seconds later, my mother-in-law hears my daughter yelling "Grandmommy, help me. I need help. Help me." My mother-in-law looks over and sees my daughter in the pool with my son. She has her arm wrapped around her chest and is holding his head above water so that he can breathe, and she is back kicking toward the side so that they can get out.


The only thing I could take from this was that I could tell my wife that I was right. Fortunately, my daughter was more proactive than just yelling for help. She apparently dove in, went underwater to get him, and dragged him back to the side like a lifeguard. I don't know if she was taught this during her swim classes or not, or if she just acted on instinct alone. Either way, it was pretty fucking amazing for a five-year-old to do. I'm guessing not a lot of twenty-five year olds would do that.

If it seems like I'm bragging, you're damned right I am. This is one of those things that I felt I should write down, lest my memory fail me later in life. Also, my daughter will someday be able to read AND work the internet (she does both now, but not together), and I don't want her to think that her father is just some fat, drunken lout who tries to poison his lab mates with toxic gas and has issues with HR and uses the F-word way too much. I mean, she knows that anyway. This way she can know that I really do pay attention and can be proud of her. Plus, this is another way of reminding my son that he owes his life to his sister, and being a Catholic family, you can bet this will come up time and time again as both children age.

All comments relating to Pamela Anderson and slow-running will result in a healthy ass-kicking from a father who is already a tad overprotective. You've been warned. Punk.


Rion said...

I'm really impressed. Keep her aware of this act as she grows. Few women remember the pure inspiration of youth, before societal roles drag them down into a kind of submission (not obvious, but still ubiquitous).

Will Shannon said...

First, good to hear that the young Jenkses are both O.K.

Second, good on your daughter. She must really like her little brother. That bond must be a good sign.

Third, double good on her because you are right in saying that an older person may not have done that. Due to a phenomenon known as diffusion of responsibility or the bystander effect, people in groups or in the presence of other people are less likely to give aid, figuring that others will pick up the slack (you may have heard of this: the Kitty Genovese case). That is Psych 101, Dave Chattin sorta stuff.

Fourth, who leaves a child unattended around water anyway? If analyses of the risk (and Prof. Steven Levitt of the U of C) are to be believed, it is about 100 times more deadly to have a pool at the house than it is to have a firearm. Kids plus water can equal big trouble; adults should know this.

Fifth, Knute Rockne: All-American is a great movie (it was one of my grandfather's favorites).

Chemgeek said...

My God! That is so scary and so uplifting. I am so glad all is well.

I don't know your daughter, but I am very proud of her and what she did.

You have every right to brag.

What she did is remarkable. The alternate ending is unthinkable and horrifying.

I'm putting Knute Rockne in my Netflix queue.

Anonymous said...

Amen. Glad to hear of the heroism and all is well. - jt