We had a great day at the lake for Independence Day. My family joined my sister's family and our parents at my sister's cabin (bigger than my house) for a cookout and boat ride.
My 14 year old special needs boy tried jumping off the dock for the first time ever. He was thrilled. He kept yelling, "Cannonball!" then leaping with his arms and legs straight out like he was doing a jumping jack. He didn't quite get the mechanics of it. But he was having fun. And he rode the tube behind the boat, also a first. He loved it. (I'm so proud, but also a little frustrated that it takes him so long to try things. All those inspirational videos you see of special needs people doing something successfully don't show all the frustration and heartache that come before the success.)
My 5 year old boy was afraid to get on the boat. He's typically shy and cautious until he's really comfortable, then he's full-throttle. He's hilarious and awesome and so very adorable. But he was afraid when it was time to get on the boat. So I held his wrists and acted like I was going to toss him on to boat. "One... just kidding baby, I'm not going to throw you." My mom was mortified. My dad and brother-in-law thought it was funny. I am definitely my father's child. He was the guy who would quietly walk outside in the dark while I was playing in my room as a little kid and bang on the window just to scare me. I thought it was funny. I still do. But, perhaps my little sweet boy doesn't find the humor in getting scared a little. I guess I'll have to quit that.
On the other hand, his twin sister is fearless. She wanted to hang over the side of the boat to see the water better. She got mad that I held her in my lap. But when her cousins and big brother and sister went tubing, she wanted to try it, too. (It was the first time for my 7 year old girl, too!) It's the kind of tube that has the fabric bottom so kids can sit inside of it, but bigger people have to lay on top. So we decided to go together, with her sitting and me hanging on behind her.
It was a bad idea. Bad.
It started out great. She was a little frightened, but still laughing. She gave a thumbs up, so we went a little faster. She was still laughing. We got a few minutes in like this, and she was having fun. Then the boat turned. I shifted so we'd go outside of the wake. Fun for me, not for her. She wasn't laughing anymore, and did a thumbs down. But the boat driver didn't see, so he didn't slow down. Then we hit a wave and bounced. She sounded like she was crying and tried another fast thumbs down. He still didn't see. Also, I slid back some when we bounced, but I couldn't pull myself back up since she was right there. my triceps were screaming. My baby was crying, and no one on the boat seemed to notice.
So I let go. Easiest way to get my child back on the boat and not scared anymore, right? Wrong.
I didn't think to warn her. She thought I drowned.
As soon as I dropped off the tube, she shrieked, "Mommmmyyyyyy!!!!" and looked like she was about to try and jump in to save me, but the boat was pulling her away too fast and I could see the horror on her little cherub face as she turned to scream at the boat to stop. My family, of course, saw, and immediately slowed and turned the boat around. She was hysterical and I could hear her over all the sea-doos and jet-skis and boats, and all I could do was float there with my hand up in the air to try and be more visible.
My mom and sister, however, were trying to comfort her by yelling, "She's okay! She right there in the water, waving at you! She's fine! We're turning around to get her, see? Look!"
But she didn't look because she'd buried her face in her little hands to sob uncontrollably. And they were laughing at her. My mom and sister were laughing their butts off at how upset she was. And they think I have a sick sense of humor?
So the tube pulled up beside me and I hugged my little girl and reassured her that I was fine, I was just swimming, that I'd let go so they would stop the boat, then I helped pull the rope in to get her on the boat faster. Tears were still streaking down her cheeks. She snuggled in my lap, wrapped in a towel, then looked me in the eye and said, "Mommy, next time be more careful. That totally fweaked me out."
I really felt bad about scaring her that time.