My son fell into the pool - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 83 Old 08-10-2009, 03:17 PM - Thread Starter
 
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So I need some advice on what to say/do in this situation.

I left my two sons with my MIL for a few hours last week. It was supposed to be for a full day but my plans changed and instead of canceling on her (because she was so excited to have them) I dropped them off and ran errands around the city. It was refreshing for me to do my own thing and I knew the boys would have fun since she is a wonderful grandma to them - spoils them, gives them tons of attention etc.

We specifically picked that day so she wouldn't have my niece and nephew - she babysits them a couple days every week. They are 8 and 6 and can't be left alone with my toddlers because they practically smother my kids - try to pick them up all the time, play way too rough, get right in their face, no concept of safety etc. So it's usually best that my MIL is only alone with two of them at a time because they are all a handful.

When I got back, DS1 tells me he fell into the pool. She elaborates and told me the situation: he was filling up a toy bucket and tipped into the pool. He's only two and a half and is not a good swimmer whatsoever. He was wearing water wings so he bobbed to the surface, looked really shocked but didn't cry and was more alarmed that his bucket was floating away.
She said she only looked away for a moment to help my nephew with something. My SIL had stopped by, the kids wanted to go swimming so she left her two with MIL as well. Precisely what I was trying to avoid.

Now I didn't really say anything at the time because I didn't know what to say! Maybe I *am* maturing instead of blurting out the first thing that came to my mind which was - Oh My Gosh He Could Have Drowned, what were you thinking!!!

Now that I've been thinking about it, she doesn't have any CPR training which is worrisome to me. Their backyard is fenced, but the in-ground pool takes up the majority of it. The kids can't play on the deck because it gives them splinters. I guess after that incident she pulled the playpen outside to put DS2 into, not fun for him but much safer because he is more than willing to jump into the pool by himself too. But she still had to supervise 3 children who were in the pool.

Should I.....insist that no matter how much DS1 hates it, he should always wear a life jacket when he's in the backyard? It's uncomfortable and makes it difficult to play...
FWIW I have had one of those floating bathing suits on him but it just made him bob upright and wouldn't roll him onto his back.

Strongly suggest that she take some CPR/swimming safety training?

Insist that if I *do* leave the kids with her again, they just don't play in the backyard?

Never leave the kids with her again?

Or....?
What do you suggest??


I am really trying not to make a huge deal out of this but it's difficult when I imagine what could have happened.

DH and I - totally winging life with our four children, DS1 (6.5yrs), DS2 (5yrs), DD (3yrs) and DS3 (1)!

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#2 of 83 Old 08-10-2009, 03:22 PM
 
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I wouldn't leave them again. Pools are just as dangerous as guns in the house. It takes only minutes of silent drowning to forever lose your child. A 2yo cannot handle a life jacket...it makes them float, but in all kinds of weird angles that make them panic. My heavy 3yo can't float right in one yet.

I wouldn't let my child play at someones house if I knew they had loose guns, and it's the same with pools. Then, if you add more adults to the mix, kids are in even more danger because one thinks the other has the kids. Not worth it. You can let them go over there after they learn to be good swimmers.

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#3 of 83 Old 08-10-2009, 03:39 PM
 
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I think I'd go with the life jacket option. That way your son can continue to enjoy his visits to his grandmother and still be safe.
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#4 of 83 Old 08-10-2009, 03:45 PM
 
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it sounds like he was fine with the water wings. I'm sure he learned a lot from that incident. I'd leave it alone. Or offer to get a little pool he can fill his bucket from for the back yard.

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#5 of 83 Old 08-10-2009, 03:48 PM
 
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I think I'd start with a conversation with your MIL where you talk about how concerned you are about the situation and ask her what she thinks. Does she understand your concern? Does she have any suggestions? Perhaps emphasize that you are concerned about how many children she was watching and asking why she didn't call you (given that you weren't doing something mandatory at the time)?

I would base my next move on what she says. If she doesn't "get it", then I would probably avoid unsupervised visits until your children are better swimmers. If she understands the issue and is willing to modify things, then I would try again.
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#6 of 83 Old 08-10-2009, 03:54 PM
 
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I'm torn between insisting on a life jacket (one of those wearable, coast-guard approved ones), or not going until the kids can swim well. A lot depends on your MIL and her reaction.

How safe is the rest of her house? Does she seem to keep a good eye on them? Does she understand how anything can happen in the blink of an eye with toddlers? If she's generally safe, and she seemed truly concerned, scared even, about what could have happened when he fell into the pool, then I'd be inclined to send them and insist on life jackets. If she thought it wasn't a big deal, or tends to overlook the need for safety in other areas, I wouldn't send them back until they were much older.

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#7 of 83 Old 08-10-2009, 03:54 PM
 
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it sounds like he was fine with the water wings. I'm sure he learned a lot from that incident. I'd leave it alone. Or offer to get a little pool he can fill his bucket from for the back yard.
This. This is the type of thing that could have just as easily happened if you were right there in the backyard with him - look away for a split second. It happens. It also sounds like your MIL was on top of things, not like she was in the house for a minute or left him unattended. Accidents happen and it sounds like that's all this was.
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#8 of 83 Old 08-10-2009, 04:05 PM
 
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From what you've posted, I'm questioning her judgement. Does she really understand what it means to care for toddlers and keep them safe? If I'm remembering you correctly, and not mixing you up with another MDCer, she's got a history of making bad judgement calls with your kids, and trouble saying "no" when asked to watch her other grandkids. (or is it somebody else with MIL issues and overly rambunctions 8 and 6yo neice/nephews?)

Did you specifically tell MIL to only watch your kids, and not take on any more kids while she was watching yours? Or did you just "assume" that she wouldn't have the extra kids that day?

If this is the first time she's done something like this (and you're not the MDCer who's posted about similar situations in the past), I'd give her another chance, with clear boundaries in place. Let her know she's not to be alone with any more kids than yours when she's babysitting (if SIL stops by with her kids, SIL needs to stay or take her kids with her.) Set up clear safety rules about being in the backyard with the pool open- not playing in the backyard is one option, making DS wear a safety vest at all times is another option. But it needs to be something you're comfortable with and that she's willing to enforce.

OTOH, if she's done stuff like this before, I'd stop letting her babysit. Continue letting the kids spend time with her- invite her to your home and go over to hers for visits, but only when one or both parents are visiting at the same time.

There are some very responsible teenagers available, probably in your neighborhood, who can watch your kids for a few hours while you go out and get some "me time"- without worrying about their safety!

ETA: Yeah, nothing happened when he fell in the pool and he did have the water wings on. But I'd still address the "you said you were watching just my two and then suddenly you were alone with 4 kids" issue.

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#9 of 83 Old 08-10-2009, 04:07 PM
 
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Did you discuss your concerns about the other kids, and about the pool with your MIL before? If you didn't you really really need to, those are very valid concerns and you shouldn't ignore your instincts about things like that. If you did discuss them before, and she ignored them, that's an even bigger problem.

If you decide to go with the lifejackets in the backyard rule I think it's really really important to make sure she's putting them on correctly each time. If it's not put on right a kid can slip right out if they fall in the water.
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#10 of 83 Old 08-10-2009, 04:12 PM
 
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I think as long as her reaction was appropriate I would let it go.

I would however (gently) recommend to her that she takes CPR and first aid. I think anyone that watches kids should have it, and definitely anyone with a pool should have it. Combine those two things and for me, it would be a necessity. Perhaps your SIL and you could share the cost of the course with your mom as a gift or something.

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#11 of 83 Old 08-10-2009, 04:15 PM
 
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You could also get one of those CPR cheat sheets to post by the pool.

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#12 of 83 Old 08-10-2009, 04:24 PM
 
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If the pool is your big concern, I think it is fine to ask that the pool/yard be off-limits for the visit when you are not there.

However, it does sound to me like she was supervising adequately and handled the situation well. My son is also 2.5, and recently fell in the pool (at our complex) when a friend and her dd were babysitting him. He was wearing his float vest (not life vest) and bobbed, but was still startled. They promptly fished him out, and he was fine. It didn't consider it a babysitting fail at all.

CPR training is a great idea for anyone, of course!
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#13 of 83 Old 08-10-2009, 04:28 PM
 
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One of the biggest rules while we were on vacation and around pools constantly was there was absolutely no leaning into the pool to touch the water, fill up buckets, ect. Dd didn't understand at all, but it was a hard and fast rule for her. She's top heavy, she tips too easy. I could picture it happening in my mind so easily.

I would talk to her, make sure she understands that the kids cannot be out of arms reach near the pool (how old are they?) EVER. If she's willing to follow that rule, then I would be ok with her watching them and playing near the pool as long as they wore life jackets.
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#14 of 83 Old 08-10-2009, 04:34 PM
 
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it sounds like he was fine with the water wings. I'm sure he learned a lot from that incident. I'd leave it alone. Or offer to get a little pool he can fill his bucket from for the back yard.
This exactly. Cant make waves because its your mil, but seriously, my heart was in my throat reading your post!
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#15 of 83 Old 08-10-2009, 04:38 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you for all the advice!

She did seem concerned enough, (the only other difference of opinion involved car seat tether straps which we remedied by installing hooks in her van and insisting that we always install our kids car seats in for her) and she does tend to keep a pretty good eye on the kids, BUT it's a pool - toddlers can run quickly and really from my own experience, if I am not within arms reach of them in that backyard, it's not safe. I'm not an overly paranoid parent I swear! But whenever *I* am with them there, I find it a handful to keep just my own two children safe never mind properly supervise two others.

And yes, the water wings did make my son float up, but what if they had slipped off? They are not a safety device and they do not make a child who does not know how to swim or float, float properly with their head up. So it's a band aid solution. If he gasped when he fell in and inhaled water, the water wings would just bring him up for someone to pull him out - they wouldn't prevent him from drowning. Especially this summer with them both being mobile, I have made a point of putting life jackets on them when I am there and she seemed to follow suit - I didn't expect her to think water wings would be just as fine.

He did not learn anything from the incident actually, generally he's a quick learner but because he didn't get scared or hurt he seems to think it was fine and will more than likely try to do it again. He had a separate small pool in the yard which is what he was filling up with the bucket.

So, gathering from the advice here...

I will talk to her about it specifically in a non-confrontational way and tell her that I'm not comfortable with her watching all four alone if they are swimming. Indoor activities are fine, just not in the pool.
Whenever we go there, I will bring the boys own life jackets to make a statement that they are to be worn around the pool at all times. If that means that DS2 is only able to crawl instead of walk, that's fine - I'd rather he crawl than drown.
And for good measure, I'll ask if she's interested in taking an infant/child CPR course and if she would mind if I posted a safety poster by the pool "just in case".

Really, with how paranoid she is about my boys chewing on rocks, eating bugs, grass, dirt, climbing trees, playing hide n seek in the cornfield...she *has* to understand why the pool is a huge concern.

DH and I - totally winging life with our four children, DS1 (6.5yrs), DS2 (5yrs), DD (3yrs) and DS3 (1)!

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#16 of 83 Old 08-10-2009, 04:39 PM
 
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This. This is the type of thing that could have just as easily happened if you were right there in the backyard with him - look away for a split second. It happens. It also sounds like your MIL was on top of things, not like she was in the house for a minute or left him unattended. Accidents happen and it sounds like that's all this was.
Yes.. this. She knew he fell in. I assume she helped him out. He was wearing floaties.

Kids fall in all the time. I'd be upset if she weren't outside.. in fact, I'd freak out if she sent him out alone. But, she was out there supervising.

I do think it's too hard for one person to carefully supervise four kids in a pool. It would have been nice if the sister in law would have stayed also.
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#17 of 83 Old 08-10-2009, 04:39 PM
 
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I'm going to opt for the "teach your kids to swim ASAP" option.

She's their grandmother, she's attentive, she probably wasn't thrilled to be left with 4 little ones at the same time, she did fine in the situation. But I would be nervous too about little ones regularly being at a house with a pool. If I were in your shoes I would make sure my kids knew how to swim.

The toddler swimming classes usually start with floating and water safety concepts so that if your children do fall into a pool they have good reflexes. I grew up in a hot area where many people had pools and we learned to swim quite young, for this very reason.
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#18 of 83 Old 08-10-2009, 04:41 PM
 
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With no security gate or cover I would be really nervous leaving my kids with anyone who had a pool. My inlaws have a pool, but unless they are in it, the very secure cover is on at all times.

That is the angle I would take. I don't think that the incident necessarily means that she is incapable of watching the kids, but I do think that young children are not safe around unsecured pools.

I would also let her know that you would prefer that it just be your kids when she is watching them. If your SIL calls up, then she should say that now is not a good time.
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#19 of 83 Old 08-10-2009, 04:53 PM
 
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I think she showed very poor judgment in agreeing to watch two additional kids by a pool (for a total of 4!!!) when SIL showed up. If she were a certified lifeguard or at least CPR certified, that might be one thing. But not being trained in life-saving techniques, she should have opted to bring all the kids inside or asked SIL to stay or take her kids away.

I would never agree to supervise 4 kids at a pool. And I would be really upset if someone I trusted to watch my two kids decided to watch two more in such an environment.

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#20 of 83 Old 08-10-2009, 05:05 PM
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I think she showed very poor judgment in agreeing to watch two additional kids by a pool (for a total of 4!!!) when SIL showed up. If she were a certified lifeguard or at least CPR certified, that might be one thing. But not being trained in life-saving techniques, she should have opted to bring all the kids inside or asked SIL to stay or take her kids away.

I would never agree to supervise 4 kids at a pool. And I would be really upset if someone I trusted to watch my two kids decided to watch two more in such an environment.
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I wouldn't leave the kids alone with her again.

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#21 of 83 Old 08-10-2009, 05:14 PM
 
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I wouldn't leave my kids alone with anyone who had a pool. Period. I wouldn't even let anyone but myself or my husband take my kids to a public pool. But I am a control freak of sorts.

Amy, mommy to Ava, 6, Gavin, 4, Lila, 2, and Baby #4 due in early November! joy.gif
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#22 of 83 Old 08-10-2009, 05:20 PM
 
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I have also been very careful with pools. I would just join your kids when they are with her until they can swim well.
I can't imagine watching 4 kids at the pool. We were at the beach with our almost 2 and almost 4 year old. A few times DH when back to the hotel to get food etc., and I had to be very alert to watch 2 of them well.

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#23 of 83 Old 08-10-2009, 05:26 PM
 
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I would probably insist that my toddler wear a life jacket if he will be playing in her backyard, and get those early swim lessons asap. I think is is overkill to never leave the kids alone with her.

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#24 of 83 Old 08-10-2009, 05:54 PM
 
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I would personally go over there with the kids and together with MIL, set some rules for the pool area (such as no one leans into the pool AT ALL EVER, for any reason...FEET FIRST ALWAYS) and some consequences for broken rules (EVERYONE immediately goes in if a rule is broken even just one time).

I'd also use this as a teachable moment with your son. When you fall into the pool, you should try not to panic. You should stay calm, get on your back, and float. On the same day we went over pool rules, I would get in the pool (with him fully clothed, perhaps including shoes) and practice this with him over and over.

And I would let your MIL know very explicitly that you are glad she is as concerned as you are about the incident, and that this reminded you of how hard it is to manage the four kids altogether, and that you want her to let you know if the other kids are coming over because you NEVER want her to be in the position of watching all four at once.

I would tell her as explicitly as you can that if she ever ends up with all four kids, she should call you right away (if you have a cell) and that you absolutely don't want her to have your kids in the pool area if she has all four of them. In fact, if you want, tell her that you only feel comfortable with them in the pool area when YOU are also there.

AND then you can double check some things like:

1. The pool gate is properly locked when they are not in the pool area.

2. The children have water wings or a swim vest on when she has them in the backyard (not really good for helping kids learn to swim, which IS a safety issue, but in terms of supervising the kids AROUND the pool it can be very helpful...even though they aren't a life-saving device, they can and DO save lives...my dd got pushed in a pool once with no water wings, and floating back up was the opposite of what she did...now THAT is scary)

etc.

But given that you MIL seemed appropriately concerned, and that it sounds like she was paying proper attention and what happened was a freak accident in the blink-of-an-eye, assuming the pool is gated and/or has a safety cover I wouldn't stop taking my kids over there based on what you said here. If you had concerns about her level of attentiveness, etc., or if she wasn't appropriately concerned about what happened, that would be a different matter.

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#25 of 83 Old 08-10-2009, 06:26 PM
 
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Yes.. this. She knew he fell in. I assume she helped him out. He was wearing floaties.

Kids fall in all the time. I'd be upset if she weren't outside.. in fact, I'd freak out if she sent him out alone. But, she was out there supervising.

I do think it's too hard for one person to carefully supervise four kids in a pool. It would have been nice if the sister in law would have stayed also.
I haven't read all the replies yet, but this. Is your SIL nuts or just selfish? I wouldn't leave 4 kids--with at least one that doesn't swim-- alone w/ an elderly adult and a pool unless that adult was a lifeguard. We have a pool that's safety fenced, but if it weren't I would never agree to watch 4 kids at the same time in our backyard, let alone the pool itself--it's a recipe for disaster IMHO and I don't care if I am CPR certified--i don't want it getting to that point!
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#26 of 83 Old 08-10-2009, 06:33 PM
 
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With no security gate or cover I would be really nervous leaving my kids with anyone who had a pool.

So would I.

In fact, I don't think I could leave DD. I would have to stay with her or she wouldn't go. I wouldn't even go with the wearing of life jacket while in the backyard thing, because DD at 2.5 could easily get into the backyard without anyone knowing.
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#27 of 83 Old 08-10-2009, 07:01 PM
 
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For me it would depend on a few things. Is your MIL "elderly"? My Mom and MIL are not. They are both in their early 50's and more then capable of watching 4 kids around a pool [B]if[B] the oldest 2 children are good swimmers. (At 6 and 8 both of my boys were). How responsive was your MIL? From your post it sounds as if she was very responsive, even bringing out the playpen in order to keep a better eye on your child.

I do believe that water safety is very important. But I also think that not allowing your MIL to watch your kids anymore because she has a pool would be extreme.
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#28 of 83 Old 08-10-2009, 07:26 PM
 
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I read it that she just had 2 kids. As scary as it was I wouldn't fret it to much. I would suggest CPR/Water safety course for your mil. Maybe get her the info. I would also proved a life vest for your ds. Something you can take to and from so it doesn't go missing and you can have it at other times.

It seems like your mil was on top of things. He could have fallen down the steps. He could choke on something. He could have slipped in a tub and taken on water. She could have been carring him and fall and break his arm (my mil did this on accident). He could have swallowed a bead. All these things can happen in your care. It is her responce in an emergancy that counts.

I don't think allowing them around Grandma is reasonable. She was paying attenion. She was not grossly neglant.
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#29 of 83 Old 08-10-2009, 07:29 PM
 
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I would personally go over there with the kids and together with MIL, set some rules for the pool area (such as no one leans into the pool AT ALL EVER, for any reason...FEET FIRST ALWAYS) and some consequences for broken rules (EVERYONE immediately goes in if a rule is broken even just one time).

I'd also use this as a teachable moment with your son. When you fall into the pool, you should try not to panic. You should stay calm, get on your back, and float. On the same day we went over pool rules, I would get in the pool (with him fully clothed, perhaps including shoes) and practice this with him over and over.

And I would let your MIL know very explicitly that you are glad she is as concerned as you are about the incident, and that this reminded you of how hard it is to manage the four kids altogether, and that you want her to let you know if the other kids are coming over because you NEVER want her to be in the position of watching all four at once.

I would tell her as explicitly as you can that if she ever ends up with all four kids, she should call you right away (if you have a cell) and that you absolutely don't want her to have your kids in the pool area if she has all four of them. In fact, if you want, tell her that you only feel comfortable with them in the pool area when YOU are also there.

AND then you can double check some things like:

1. The pool gate is properly locked when they are not in the pool area.

2. The children have water wings or a swim vest on when she has them in the backyard (not really good for helping kids learn to swim, which IS a safety issue, but in terms of supervising the kids AROUND the pool it can be very helpful...even though they aren't a life-saving device, they can and DO save lives...my dd got pushed in a pool once with no water wings, and floating back up was the opposite of what she did...now THAT is scary)

etc.

But given that you MIL seemed appropriately concerned, and that it sounds like she was paying proper attention and what happened was a freak accident in the blink-of-an-eye, assuming the pool is gated and/or has a safety cover I wouldn't stop taking my kids over there based on what you said here. If you had concerns about her level of attentiveness, etc., or if she wasn't appropriately concerned about what happened, that would be a different matter.
I can't imagine a 2.5 yr old learning how not to panic in water but maybe my 3 yr old is unusual that way. It will probably be another couple yrs till he can calm himself in water. I also don't feel quite comfortable with the idea that it may have been just a freak accident. It is a swimming pool and should not have happened. Period. Her level of attentiveness obviously WAS lacking. Once would be too much for me and I would not allow my children over unsupervised until they could swim. The average time it takes a child to drown is 20 seconds!! This is too dangerous to give any benefit of the doubt to Grandma.

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#30 of 83 Old 08-10-2009, 07:31 PM
 
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I would tell her you're uncomfortable with them being near/in the pool without 2 adults to supervise. 4 kids to 1 adult + a pool is not a good idea IMO. I would let her babysit/spend time with the kids as long as they weren't going to be swimming or have access to the pool area. Otherwise I'd offer outings someplace else like my own home or the park.

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