CYC-Online 75 APRIL 2005
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tight corners

In over my head

A. Freeman

When I was young my friends and I would sometimes go swimming in places in the local river where we were told not to go. It was dangerous, too deep, we could drown, we were told. But you know what it’s like, somebody tells you not to go there, and it’s all you want to do. I remember sometimes I would be swimming in this place where, while the water wasn’t extremely deep, it was definitely over our heads. And sometimes I would find myself unable to stay floating on the surface and start to sink. Usually it was because I had been working too hard at swimming and not paying attention to my waning strength. I would feel like I was doing fine and then suddenly something would happen and I would start to sink.

Well, of course, the first few times I panicked and almost drowned. But with some desperate antics and a rush of adrenaline which comes from fear, I managed to get close enough to the shore to put my feet on solid ground. Then I would crawl to the shore and collapse while my heart slowed down.

But then a friend told me a secret: when you find yourself sinking, if the waters not too deep, you should dive for the bottom as fast as you can and then give yourself a hard push on the river floor, and you will shoot up to the surface again. Well, the next time I found myself floundering I tried it. It took a lot of self talk to convince myself to go in the opposite direction to that which my natural instinct told me to do. To go down, when “going down” was what was causing my panic. But I was young and given to foolish things. Invulnerable as all young people think they are.

So, swallowing my panic, I dove down, found the bottom, pushed hard and then I shot up and broke through the surface. Then I swam to shore, dragged myself out of the water and collapsed while my heart slowed down.

But the real difference is that in future days I was less afraid. I felt safer when the water was deep.

So, you might be wondering what this has to do with Child and Youth Care. All I can say is this: “think about the times you have been “in over your head” with a young person or family. Wouldn’t it make sense to dive to the bottom and kick up, rather than floundering on the surface sinking against your will?”

Of course, it only works when the water isn’t too deep.

The International Child and Youth Care Network

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