Sucked out or sucked in

We often hear stories of swimmers being sucked out to sea by dangerous riptides and of the heroic efforts of lifeguards to save them. In Australia, life savers are volunteers who generously give up their time to help ensure the safety of others. According to this article from news.com.au,  most drownings in Australia occur in ocean rips; many because people are overconfident of their ability to recognise them. Though surf life savers who patrol our beaches clearly identify areas under surveillance, many beachgoers choose to swim outside the flags, believing they will be safe, that it won’t happen to them.

With summer on its way and warmer weather already (or still) here, people, including my grandchildren and their parents, are heading to the beaches for our spring school holidays. I urge everyone to stay safe and be wary of those unseen rips. I also offer a huge word of thanks to the generous volunteers who safeguard our swimmers.

swimmer

This news report, which aired on Saturday evening, explains some reasons for their generosity:

“Life is just that precious. If we can’t see you, we can’t help you.”

“We get paid nothing, but it’s worth it.”

“It’s about the community giving back to the community, and you know, helping out.”

dear life savers

This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills is talking about riptides. She has sucked me along in the current with her challenge to In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about a riptide. How can it be used to move a story? It could be a stretch of turbulent water or a pull of another kind. Go where the prompt leads even if you find it unexpected.

In her post, Charli repeats a line, reminiscent of a song of which I was unaware:

“I run down to the riptide”.

Each time Charli reaches the riptide, she opens a hatch of treasures and possibilities, of ideas and achievements with which she could swirl away. Me? At the mention of riptide, I was thinking of being sucked in and drowning, of being carried away from safety. But to be picked up and carried to a land of possibilities may be more enticing with more opportunities to explore. There may be more to currents than the ocean’s deadly pull. Let’s see where this one goes.

Where else but education?

For teachers, it’s important to not get carried away by the latest fads with their deceptive surfaces hiding dangers in their depths. Many teachers flounder in overwhelming workloads, unrealistic expectations, and defective advice. They lose sight of the shore and get dragged out to sea where, sadly, many drown.

It is also important for teachers to know where the (figurative) waters are safe for children, and where there are just enough ripples to challenge them, strengthening their grit and confidence.

Children themselves need to know how to interpret the waters, to avoid the dangers so that they might enjoy what is on offer. Standing on the edge in fear while others are having fun may spark “if only” thoughts of dissatisfaction. Jumping recklessly in too deep may be just as disastrous.

The same is true in life. If we don’t have a go, how will we ever know if success is possible?

readilearn

I jumped into blogging just over three years ago, tested the waters and developed my swimming skills. I thought I was doing okay. A little over a year ago, I dived in deeper, perhaps a little recklessly though it didn’t seem so at the time, with the launch of readilearn, an online collection of early childhood teaching resources. I sometimes feel that I am treading water, struggling to hold my head above the surface and avoid the rip that threatens to suck me under. I knew it would be a learning journey. I just didn’t realise how much I needed to learn.  Belief in what I’m doing and hope for what the future may hold, drives me forward. I swim, hoping to find the current that carries me towards my goal rather than away from it.

So, I’m thinking about the child on the beach, feeling the drag of the water underfoot, unsure of whether to enter or not. No dangerous undercurrents here. I hope you enjoy it.

Sucked in

The older ones squealed, dropped their towels, and raced for the water. The little one toddled beside Mum, each laborious step prolonged by distractions of beach debris, flapping gulls, and footprints in soft white sand. Mum’s eyes flitted between him and the two in the waves. Thankfully, guards were on duty. When they reached the water’s edge, he baulked, shook his head, and plopped backwards. Gentle waves lapped his feet, then tickled as they sucked out the sand. Mesmerised, he chuckled. His siblings joined him. When they offered their hands, he accepted, stepping joyfully alongside them in the shallows.

Thank you for reading. I appreciate your comments. Please share your thoughts.

44 thoughts on “Sucked out or sucked in

  1. Steven

    Another interesting post and you have covered quite a large range of items in it, from volunteers to the 99-word challenge and to your own personal challenges. I doubt that many would say that pioneering is easy, but most would probably say it is rewarding. All one can do is push themselves to do their best for as long as they can. Many years ago, a recently-retired workmate commented to me that they expected that when they would retire, they would have a lot more time to do things and relax a bit. However once she had been in retirement for a few months, she found the opposite and that retired life was even more busy than her work life. I guess that we find challenges to keep ourselves active and that sometimes those waters are deeper than we expected.

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    1. Norah Post author

      Thanks for reading and commenting so thoughtfully, Steven. I agree with your final statement. It is definitely true for me “we find challenges to keep ourselves active and that sometimes those waters are deeper than we expected”. That doesn’t mean they are devoid of enjoyment and satisfaction. One day I will retire too. 🙂

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  2. Annecdotist

    I like how you connect fads in teaching (which could apply equally well to other kinds of helping services) to the riptide, which can sweep teachers away either by their own choices or forced by government ministers who think they know better than the experts.
    To segue into a different rant, who are these people who swim outside the flags, putting the lives of others in danger as well as their own?
    I wonder why you think it was reckless to start readilearn? I know I’m not your target audience but it seems to have blossomed beautifully over the last year.

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    1. Norah Post author

      I like your segue. I agree! People too often put themselves in dangerous situations, then risk the lives of others in needing to be rescued. Not only that, the rescue efforts can sometimes cost a lot of money. I guess as one who is not particularly adventurous (in that way), I don’t understand the need.
      Thank you for your kind words about readilearn. It nice to think that it has blossomed. I was reckless in that I thought it was all going to be easy. Instead the whole process has been quite difficult, and continues to be so, with much to learn. Nonetheless, I am proud of what I’ve achieved. I just wonder if I knew then what I know now, would I have done it. Probably, but I would have engaged a different developer. But who?

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      1. Annecdotist

        You should indeed be proud, but it’s difficult relying on someone else’s expertise to showcase it. Perhaps when you become even more technologically expert you’ll be able to be your own developer. Or is life just too short?

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        1. Norah Post author

          Life is much too short. And I mustn’t blame the developer for my shortcomings. They did a great job on the site. I just need more – always more! 🙂

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    1. Norah Post author

      Thank you for your kind words about my blog and readilearn, Robbie. It’s great to hear that it looks professional and smooth. I certainly aim for that. But it is constant work and involves a lot of learning, with much more still to learn. I feel my journey is just beginning. The end is like a mirage to which I never seem to get any closer. At least the journey is enjoyable. Mostly. 🙂
      I’m pleased you enjoyed the flash. I enjoyed having written it. 🙂
      I appreciate your ongoing support.

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  3. dgkaye

    It’s beyond me why some people think they’re more powerful than the water. It’s imperative to pay attention to the flags and stay within the markings when warned. Mexico is notorious for strong undertows that look seemingly non-existent until someone gets caught in one. I’ve been there a few times and heard about some tourists drowning. I watched a couple walking the beach, close to the waters edge get swept in by a huge random wave. Great post Norah. 🙂

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    1. Norah Post author

      Great advice, Debby. I agree. I guess there are too many drownings everywhere there is beach.
      I find the story about the couple walking along the water’s edge rather scary though. I thought one would be safe there, at least.
      Thank you for sharing, and for your kind words, Debby.

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      1. dgkaye

        Yes, Norah, we should be safe walking on the beach, but it’s important to note the warnings posted about the tides. I was walking that same beach and watched it happen, only I was a good 20 feet from the water’s edge. 🙂 Reading is important! 🙂

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        1. Norah Post author

          Reading is important. It’s also important to understand and follow warnings like those too. I’m so pleased you read, understood, and respected the information shared. 🙂

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  4. thecontentedcrafter

    Another great post Norah, and flash of course 🙂 For those of us who live beside the ocean – any ocean – and observe the changing sea from day to day, and as we begin to understand a little of her changing moods, a deep respect grows……. The work our life guards do is heroic, unsung and oftentimes dangerous. As a child I once was caught in a riptide and lived to tell the tale. One of my daughters, aged four and playing in the shallows, got swept under by a rogue wave and was on her way out to sea when a series of serendipitous events saved her…… I love the ocean, but I have a deep respect for her power!

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    1. Norah Post author

      Hi Pauline, thank you for sharing your experiences. I think that respect is extremely important.
      How scary for you as a young child, and as a mum of a young child, to experience these riptide events. I’m so pleased you were both safe. I’m intrigued by the thought of what serendipitous events may have saved your daughter.

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      1. thecontentedcrafter

        Had her father not had very long legs and been able to almost fly across the water to get to her aid and had a man not been standing in the water and grabbed at her as she tumbled past my youngest child would have been swept out to sea. Another time this same child peered into a duck pond and just kept going, headfirst, silently into the water in mid-winter. Again her quick thinking father grabbed the last bit of her he saw disappearing and hauled her back out. We kind of kept her away from water for a bit after that 🙂

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        1. Norah Post author

          What a wonderful father. Aren’t those the images we love to have of fathers as protectors. Nice.
          I can understand why you would keep her away from the water. How does she do now?

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          1. thecontentedcrafter

            What a good question! I had to think about it. She hasn’t had any incidents with water in recent memory – she goes deep sea fishing now and again, so is quite comfortable on the sea, she walks on the beach often – but doesn’t swim. I actually don’t recall her swimming since primary school days – maybe we frightened her off it ….

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            1. Norah Post author

              It’s interesting, isn’t it? Maybe you didn’t frighten her off it, maybe she frightened herself off it. Or maybe she’s just not interested. If she was afraid of the water, would she go deep sea fishing? I wonder.

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  5. Mabel Kwong

    Your topic reminds me of the time when I was younger and at the beach somewhere in NSW. It was a warm summer’s day, and somehow I got caught up in a strong wave and it washed me out to sea. I still remember this vivid memory of me drifting further and further away from the shore, which became smaller and smaller and the people seemed to disappear. I don’t remember what happened after that, but I did make it back to shore at some point.

    Agree education is the way to go on taking care around the waters at the beach. We can’t just always rely on lifeguards – there are only so many of them on a crowded beach. The least we can do is use common sense and listen to forecast warnings and look out for each other.

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    1. Norah Post author

      Being carried out to sea like that must have been very scary, Mabel. I’m so pleased that you made it back to shore okay. How else would I get to read your lovely posts and enjoy our conversations?
      I agree with your advice that the “least we can do is use common sense and listen to forecast warnings and (especially) look out for each other.”
      Thank you so much for reading and sharing, Mabel.

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      1. Mabel Kwong

        I am very fortunate to this day to have survived being washed out to see. There’s so much to learn in this world, and learning from the posts you put up 🙂 Take care, Norah. Happy Spring and thanks for writing.

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  6. Joe Owens

    Hey Norah! There has been so much trouble with riptides and hard surf along the coast of the United Stated over the last five weeks or so due to all the hurricane activity. Even with the warnings some people choose to ignore them because they do not realize the danger. Also, they see the larger waves as great surfing material but are not skilled enough to be able to handle the increased wave action. I know you in Australia are thankful to have such trained folks watching over your time enjoying the ocean. This is a great post, very informative.

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    1. Norah Post author

      Thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts, Joe. You did have some serious surf over there due to the hurricanes. Unfortunately, too much of it went too far inland. I did see a lot of people out doing what I thought to be foolish and ignoring the warnings. So much tragedy for so many; and it’s still occurring.
      Yes, we are very grateful for our wonderful surf life savers over here.

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        1. Norah Post author

          I’ve been watching on the news as well. Totally devastating over there. I feel for all those people affected. And then there’s the earthquakes too. What is the world telling us?

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            1. Norah Post author

              I can understand that. Where to start must be constantly on your mind. So much need. I’m sure you are making a very valuable and appreciated contribution. How wonderful to have people like you give so much to help in times like this.

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