My Little ISR Graduate
My son Marri, is just shy of his first birthday and while there have been many moments of excitement throughout his life, I can easily say that July 19th was one of my proudest moments yet. As I beamed with fulfillment, I watched my Marri graduate from his ISR (Infant Swim Rescue) course! During his final assessment lesson in the water, he was happy and content as my husband and I observed him take on his float with ease. We were relieved that he had grown comfortable in the water but most importantly; we felt immense joy from having the courage to enroll him in ISR and the commitment we collectively displayed taking him to receive instruction daily.
Before you start sending him well wishes and graduation cards filled with confetti —let's rewind to 23 days earlier, to Marri's first day of ISR instruction. I still remember the angst and fluctuating nerves at the thought of seeing my child temporarily struggle to learn a new skill set. One of my favorite verses in the Bible is John 14:27, "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." In consistently reciting this verse I felt comfort, however, the "What -if's" of parenting still slowly crept into my mind. "What if he dose not cooperate with the instructor? What if he is too young for instruction, What if I can't handle watching him struggle?" Etc. Many petty and unnecessary thoughts kept resurfacing as we drove to his first lesson.
The Facts of Parenting
As parents we want our kids to be resilient, problem solvers and capable of successfully conquering difficult task at the highest level. Yet, sometimes we do the opposite of contributing to their personal growth by coddling and overcompensating in ways that may not be in their best interest. We cater to their comforts to make them “content” in an attempt to make their lives “better.” We think we are helping them by giving them everything they want and what we think they "need."
During his time in the water Marri did not encounter prolonged discomfort, danger or distress but, I still felt extremely nervous and anxious. I kept reminding myself that what I was experiencing, was a temporary feeling that every new mom encounters at some point but the uneasiness would subside as time progressed. I also kept telling myself that, how I felt in that moment would be nothing compared to the agony or distress I would feel if my child encountered a body of water and was not equipped with the tools to save himself.
So, in retrospect, we both experienced tremendous growth! Marri learned essential life saving skills to keep him safe if he were to ever (accidentally) become exposed to an unsupervised body of water. While, Marri's mommy learned that in order to become a better parent she would need to let go of her expectation that keeping her child overly comfortable was in his best interest. Sometimes we provide more to our children by allowing them the space to grow and experience life, with healthy boundaries of course.
It breaks my heart to think of a child drowning. It is treacherous and mentally unbearable to comprehend, let alone for a family to experience. Yet sadly, over 4,000 children and infants suffer from drowning on an annual basis according to Infant Swimming Resource. It is the leading cause of accidental death for children under the age of 4 in the U.S. Drowning is not this loud, boisterous event that Hollywood has made it out to be. It is quick, quiet and scary. Any amount of time longer than 21 seconds of being submerged in the water can be fatal for children. When my husband and I decided to have a pool at our home, we discussed how important it was that we take responsibility to ensure that our son could swim or at least provide him with life-saving tools that could increase his chances of survival should he ever become unintentionally exposed to a body of water. Although both of us are proficient swimmers, we wanted Marri to receive professional instruction as opposed to creating a false since of water security by using floatation devices or other contraptions that are frequently used to support children in the water. This is how we landed at ISR Self-Rescue® (Infant Swimming Resource) and our amazing ISR instructor Allison Hult. Both of which changed our lives for the better!
What is ISR?
For over 50 years, the ISR Self-Rescue® (Infant Swimming Resource) founded by Dr. Harvey Barnett has been saving lives and is now the global leader in survival swimming lessons for infants and young children. The mission of ISR is simple, teach children skills to potentially save themselves if they are ever in the water alone. Their motto is “Not One More Child Drowns.” They believe successful drowning prevention consists of a multi-layered approach. As parents, we typically do not allow our child to ride in a car without a car seat so why do we allow our children to function around water without providing life skills and training for them to save themselves?
Meet Allison Hult, our phenomenal ISR Self-Rescue® instructor who taught Marri and (helped Marri’s mommy), gain confidence while he is in the water. Allison is patient, kind, caring and a highly skilled instructor that does an excellent job helping both students and parents understand the process of learning the life-saving float and as they grow older, the swim-float-swim tactics for water safety. Before becoming a master swim instructor, Allison worked for corporate America in downtown Manhattan and although she was thriving financially, she knew deep down that she was not fulfilling her purpose. Growing up around water gave her the confidence and resolve she provides to her students. She now teaches ISR full time in South Florida and has an array of students from ages 6 months to 6 years old.
During our initial lesson, Allison could tell that I was nervous. Once she placed Marri in the water, he cried a little, but she immediately hugged and soothed him which calmed Marri and his mommy. Her peaceful spirit gave both Marri, my now superstar floater and his nervous mommy the reassurance and comfort that we needed. His first lesson was all of eight minutes where she let him tread water and get comfortable in his new environment. She did not submerge him under water or force him to splash around. She just introduced him to what would be his new home every day for the next four weeks. Day 1...Lesson 1...complete! For the next 23 days, as a family, we completed our 10-15 minutes of the first round of ISR Self-Rescue® lessons.
View Marri's entire ISR Journey by watching our compilation video below. Thank you Allison for these amazing memories!
Edited By Joy Davis