Always Swim Near a Lifeguard (#422)

Hands grasping his boogie board and smiling cheek to cheek, Charlie kicked his way out into the ocean. Past where everyone else in the ocean was, and with Jim immediately tailing him.
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I did not see actually see Charlie do this—I was closer to the shore, swimming in the waves myself: Charlie both inspires me to go into deeper, wilder waters than I would otherwise be inclined too, and Charlie also requires that I do this.

Strong swimmer that he is, Charlie cannot swim in the ocean alone. Jim and I are rather sure that, if the thought occurred to him, he would keep swimming as far as he could until a lifeguard whistled and raced in after him (and this is the first year that Charlie has only been going into the water between 10am and 5pm when the lifeguard is present; in previous years, an evening walk on the beach meant an extra swim for him and Jim). And the ocean is glorious, gorgeous, full of life, and dangerous.
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And with Charlie, there are certain chances that a parent cannot take.

Cars, for instance. Charlie still has trouble tracking moving objects from cars to dogs to balls. This is the first year that we have noticed him stopping at the sidewalk’s edge or even at a stop sign—-the result of so many bike rides with Jim during which Charlie has learned, “stop sign, squeeze brakes!”

So, just as Charlie only rides his bike with Jim, so Charlie cannot swim on his own in the ocean: This morning, just as Charlie was moving his board to ride a wave, the water sent a teenage boogie boarder crashing atop Charlie. I waded over as Charlie emerged from the waves and howled, and hit his head twice on his board.

“Hey, dude, you okay? Sorry.”

I assured him it was all right, mentioned autism, and did my best to help Charlie back on his board, while calling out to Jim. Charlie was soon kicking and riding the waves with his widest smile again.
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Jim and I have talked about getting someone (I suppose the “hey dude” teenager surfer is a candidate) to go out and swim in the waves with Charlie. We are (are we not all?) getting older, and Charlie’s swimming skills already surpass ours: At nine years old, Jim remembers jumping into waves but always by the shore—–when I was nine, I refused to go past the shallow end of the swimming pool, despite summers of swimming lessons.

At this rate, I expect that Charlie will be rescuing me someday, if I swim out too far in the ocean.

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Comments
6 Responses to “Always Swim Near a Lifeguard (#422)”
  1. kc'smommy says:

    Wow that looks fun and Charlie looks so so happy! Charlie looks so comfortable in the water, he was meant to be a swimmer for sure!

  2. Sharon says:

    I love the photos of Charlie’s beaming face!
    He’s such a dude himself.

    My boy has some awareness of the dangers of traffic, but it goes out the window when he is excited or upset, for now anyway.

  3. tara says:

    A kind of a swimming mentor- How cool would that be for Charlie!!
    I hope you can find someone.

  4. liz ditz says:

    Out here in California there’s a teen junior lifeguard program — very high status, hard to get into. Kind of like scouting with a wetsuit (the Pacific ocean is COLD). I wonder if there’s a program like that? I wonder if an Eagle Scout candidate would be a good bet?

  5. Mamaroo says:

    I hope Charlie is signed up for Surfers Healing. I am looking forward to seeing him most. I think that Israel Paskowitz and his surfer volunteers will be very impressed with your boy and his skills. Maybe someday Charlie can give lessons to little kids like Roo.

  6. Junior lifeguards sounds like a good idea! We did find one “mentor/partner” for Charlie today (in my next post, #423).

    We have been planning to attend Surfers Healing with Charlie this year, still working out how that fits in with his back to school schedule. If not lessons, Charlie does his best to set a good example!

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