Dads can teach in and out of wa­ter

The Washington Times Daily - - METRO - DEB­O­RAH SIM­MONS Deb­o­rah Sim­mons can be con­tacted at dsim­mons@wash­ing­ton­times.com.

An­other Fa­ther’s Day is upon us, as is the push to buy the big­gest and bestest power tools and grills we can af­ford. Fathers should claim their re­spon­si­bil­ity to teach chil­dren life lessons.

Too of­ten th­ese days, the Fa­ther’s Day gift-givers over­look the ob­vi­ous: those gifts that do not cost hun­dreds of dol­lars, do not take hours surf­ing the ’net and do not even re­sem­ble mugs and cards that say “Best Dad Ever.”

How about the gifts that keep on giv­ing?

Like rid­ing a bi­cy­cle.

Ty­ing shoelaces.

Learn­ing how to swim. Un­cul­tured war­riors have taken pops out of the lace-ty­ing pic­ture, re­plac­ing his in­struc­tional fin­gers with Vel­cro on L’il Jor­dans and James’ and Curry’s. That young peo­ple even sport such footwear to fu­ner­als, wed­dings and for­mal af­fairs speaks vol­umes about fa­ther­less up­bring­ing. I di­gress, how­ever.

Watch­ing a dad teach a child how to ride a bike with train­ing wheels and the how-to’s to grad­u­ate to a twowheeler is a beau­ti­ful thing.

The kid scrape his knees, and Dad teaches him the dif­fer­ence be­tween a boo­boo and an in­jury. He then schools his son on what went wrong and how to cor­rect his mis­take(s). The cheers are in or­der be­cause, alas, no bones were bro­ken in the learn­ing process, and dad can give him­self a fist pump.

By the time the chil­dren are ’tweens (and learn Steven Spiel­berg, not E.T., pro­duced the ex­tra-ter­res­trial’s magic), Dad will have taught them how to mas­ter the cob­ble­stone streets of Pitts­burgh as eas­ily as the ragged dirt roads of Amer­ica’s parks.

And swim­ming? Well, swim­ming is all about trust and un­der­stand­ing, about trust­ing your­self and un­der­stand­ing that wa­ter can be as en­tic­ing and sooth­ing as it is vi­cious and deadly.

And the warm months are cer­tainly vi­cious, as hurricane sea­son be­gins and peo­ple can’t re­sist hit­ting the beaches and swim­ming pools.

Hur­ri­canes dads can’t much do about, whether the cli­mate-chang­ers say so or not.

Swim­ming is a dif­fer­ent mat­ter, and facts from the Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Pre­ven­tion (CDC) ex­plain why:

1) From 2005 to 2014, there were an av­er­age of 3,536 fa­tal un­in­ten­tional drown­ings (non­boat­ing re­lated) an­nu­ally in the United States — or about 10 deaths per day.

2) In ad­di­tion, 332 peo­ple died each year from drown­ing in boat­ing-re­lated in­ci­dents.

3) About 1 in 5 peo­ple who die by drown­ing are chil­dren 14 and younger.

4) For ev­ery child who dies by drown­ing, an­other five re­ceive emer­gency de­part­ment care for non­fa­tal sub­mer­sion in­juries, such as brain in­jury, paral­y­sis and mem­ory loss.

More and more, dads (and moms) are trust­ing pub­lic schools to teach their kids how to, well, fill in the blank — be­cause schools also are teach­ing our sons what size con­dom they should wear. (With­out Dad and Mom even ask­ing them­selves, “How does the school teacher know?”) Re­ally, guys?

You don’t have a few week­ends to teach your son to re­spect bod­ies of wa­ter?

To trust his body to not fight the wa­ter?

How and when to come up for air? How to float on his back? Swim­ming pool eti­quette? No run­ning means no run­ning.

Swim­ming is a life­long les­son a son will never for­get, and its ba­sics taught by Dad won’t be un­learned.

He’ll even re­call on oc­ca­sion how you taught him to float while you held up his back and straight­ened his legs.

He trusted you, and he trusted him­self.

No power tool can re­place that.

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