It's the calm before the storm here at the moment. At the end of next week the schools break up and summer officially begins. That will mean the beach, the local parks and all our usual haunts will have to be shared. On Monday Lily's school was closed for an inset day, so Arthur and I had the pleasure of extra company for the first twenty-four hours of our week. The weather was on our side, with the sun glaring down before it had even reached 9 a.m. so I decided to take them both down the West Pier Playground a-stroll-along-the-beach away from home.
There is something quite lovely about getting to this busy playground straight after breakfast, in the summer weeks before the schools break up - you can often find you have the place to yourself, or at the most sharing the facilities with just one or two others. I make a point of avoiding playgrounds in the summer from mid morning onwards as they get so crowded. It can become all to easy to momentarily loose sight of your children amongst the sea of other children running around at the speed of knots and I for one find the whole experience quite stressful.
At the playground, Lily and Arthur were quite happy paddling in the shallow pool whilst I watched on sitting on the bench dryside. Something, I can't remember what, caught my attention for a nano-second and I took my eyes off them both. A moment later Lily was calling to me between fits of laughter, 'Look mummy, Arthur's being so funny; he's trying to swim'. I couldn't see him as Lily was standing in my sight line, so I got up and walked towards the water. I caught sight of Arthur. He'd lost his footing in the deeper part of the pool and was trying with all his might to get his body upright, but each time he pushed himself up from the bottom of the pool his head would go under pulling his body down with him. He was frantically struggling in complete silence. I rushed straight into the water and pulled him out coughing and spluttering. Lily looked somewhat taken aback at my actions, unaware of the serious nature of what had happen.
Back on dryside I changed Arthur out of his swimsuit, towel dried his hair, gave him several tight hugs to calm him down and counted my blessings. Then deciding to cut our playground time short, we headed to the nearby cafe on the beach for toasted teacakes all round. I think the teacake soon put Arthur's ordeal to the back of his mind, but it shook me up for the rest of the day. It really did give me one of those stomach churning frights, the kind where you ask yourself lots of questions starting with 'what if ...'