I had a great conversation with Johnny Johnson recently about the importance of the letter ‘R’. Or more specifically ‘R’ when tacked on to the word ‘Safe’. It is human nature to want to feel safe. Not safer, which implies better but not quite, but safe. It is certainly the nature of parents to want to believe their children are safe – 100%, absolutely, positively, no doubt about it, unequivocally safe.
The problem is that when it comes to water we are never entirely safe. We can make our back yard safeR by putting up a pool fence and installing a door alarm. We can make our child safeR around the water by enrolling them in swimming lessons, teaching them water safety from a very young age, or using sensor wrist bands when visiting Grandma’s pool. Life jackets can help us be safeR when we engage in water-based sports like boating, water skiing and tubing. But at the end of the day, water is a powerful force, it’s everywhere, and it can be unpredictable.
As I’m sure you all know, I am violently opposed to fear-based messages when it comes to water. I think it is counter-productive and dangerous to scare the daylights out of people about an element we can’t live without. Water brings us great joy, which I think is crucial to learning to act safely around water. But, I also see that a false sense of security can be fatal, so when it comes to water, I like the mental nudge of the ‘R’.
Fortunately, when it comes to children, they already understand the importance of ‘R’ as they work to be oldeR, fasteR, talleR, smarteR, and strongeR, so it should be an easy sell to talk about being ‘safeR’ around water, because children already know that ‘R’ Rocks!