Today, we decided to go snorkeling. This was an activity that all four of us could participate in…at once, like a family. Although I preferred not to go, I did it, just because everyone else was willing.
As you may remember, I went snorkeling in Jamaica back in December. You can read more about that adventure here, if you didn’t get to read it back then. That snorkeling trip was the first time in over 20 years that I had attempted it. I was pretty proud of myself. I also got through it by promising myself that I never had to go again. Unfortunately, today, I found out that I lied to myself.
We headed to the water sports center to get the masks, snorkels and fins. This resort doesn’t have a boat to take you out snorkeling, but there is a coral reef right off the beach. We could swim out to the reef. That sounds like it should be less scary, but actually, it was worse for me. Back in Jamaica, the idea of getting back in the boat if I needed to helped me not to panic. Out in the water today, my only way to escape was to swim.
When we first got in the water, Mr. Everything went out ahead of me, and he was not within my reach. I told him if he thought he was going to leave me, he was seriously mistaken. He rolled his eyes and said he wasn’t leaving me. I got the feeling that he would have rather gone without me, and I considered arranging that for him.
As soon as I put the snorkel in my mouth and looked into the water, I began to hyperventilate. I can’t explain it, but I was afraid. There was sand under me, and there were no fish within sight, but I panicked. Mr. E stopped and patiently waited for me to catch my breath. My kids looked at me like I was crazy and kept asking what was wrong with me. I reminded them that the very definition of “phobia” is that it is an unexplained fear. Therefore, they should stop asking me why I was freaking out.
I caught my breath and decided to try again. I was doing pretty well until we got over the sea grass. At that point, I realized I had put my body on top of Mr. Everything’s so he could be my human shield against anything that came slithering out of that grass. I’m not actually sure how he was swimming with me over him, but he didn’t complain, bless him. I removed myself from his back and just kept a tight grip on his hand. We saw a few little fish. There was nothing that looked like it could eat me, so I started to relax.
As we went along, my mask leaked a little, and my nose piece was full of water. I stopped and drained it and almost started to panic but refrained. We kept going and finally got over the coral. Mr. E was pointing at fish, as if I cared about seeing fish. I was doing fine and feeling pretty proud of myself. The water was getting more and more shallow, and I was starting to get a little worried about the coral touching me. Then, the scream happened.
The Goose had been on Mr. E’s other side throughout our swim. He pushed her away a few times, because she kept kicking us with her fins. She was fine swimming on her own and did not need to be right on top of us. As he pushed her away, she apparently got into the Beetle’s space, and they began pushing each other under water. Only my children can manage to argue with snorkels in their mouths.
Then, apparently, the Goose tried to take the Beetle’s mask off. She said that she was just trying to grab him because she was afraid. (That’s her story and she’s sticking to it.) He pushed her away, and unknowingly pushed her into a section of coral.
Let me interrupt here to say that the Goose’s angry scream and her hurt scream sound very similar. At camp a few weeks ago, she let out a blood-curdling scream that caused me to go running. Some retired people who were working at camp came running too. We thought she was being eaten by a bear. However, it turned out that she was just mad at the Beetle about something.
So, today, as I was peacefully, fearlessly snorkeling, I heard the same scream. I immediately jumped up out of the water to see what was happening. Mama Bear was ready to save her cub from any attacking water creature. As I came up, I hit coral with my butt, and I screamed. Then, the Goose was screaming. I was screaming. People were looking.
The Goose was freaking out because the Beetle had pushed her. She was screaming that she was bleeding. Mr. Everything swam away from me to get to her, which left me surrounded by coral in shallow water. I was afraid to move because I might get cut. I started to hyperventilate and then reminded myself that I was the mother. Mr. E was getting further and further away from me. By this point, I had my mask off, so I couldn’t even look down to see where the coral was. The Beetle was far off, just watching the whole spectacle.
Mr. E told the Goose to hush, and he was trying to get her to calm down. I heard him say something about the fact that she was making me panic, but I was too busy panicking to hear what he said. Finally, through gritted teeth and in a calm voice, I said, “Mr. Everything. I could really use your help over here.” He said, “I’m kinda dealing with something here.” Meanwhile, the Goose continued to panic. Mr. E told the Beetle to come help me. The Beetle came over and asked what I needed. I told him I needed help getting out of the coral so I could swim to shore. I made him hold my hand. He was so happy about that.
The Beetle proceeded to pull me in a straight path back to the sandy area. If I could have just put my mask on and stopped panicking, I would have realized that the coral was not all around me but only on 3 sides. I had a perfectly clear path back to the beach. However, I did have to go over the sea grass, so I was glad to have the Beetle’s hand to hold.
Our snorkeling trip ended with Mr. Everything fussing at the Beetle for making his sister bleed, while I fussed at the Goose for pulling her brother’s mask off. You see, we each had been told different versions of the story. Suddenly, our family snorkeling trip ended as the Beetle stormed off, saying he was going back to the room. The Goose was still busy crying as she bled to death. (Or at least, she acted like she was bleeding to death.) Mr. E made the declaration for the 100th time on this trip that, “Never again,” were we bringing the kids with us to a resort. From now on, we were going to “adults only” locations. And a great time was had by all. -Al