If you spend any amount in time in sales you know we run hard and pretty much are always on… all the time. There is always someone looking to take your customers and rain on your parade. I’m more conscientious now about striking a healthy balance on all fronts but this is a constant juggling act. I must admit it takes me a lot to really unplug even if it’s my own discretion.
This past week I spent in our sales awards trip out in Hawaii. I have been fortunate to come out on a number of occasions and we really enjoy the destination (once you get over the flight and time zone change). This trip was different in that my kids who are 5 & 7 are a lot more active and full of energy than our recent visit two years ago, either that or I am just getting older!
My wife was booked for a well deserved day at the spa and I was tasked with taking care of the kids. We decided to hit the beach and enjoy the surf. I spent the next 4 hours with the kids working on perfecting their boogie boarding skills. Wave after wave, we kept at it until I finally threw in the towel and suggested we hit the beach for some play time in the sand. At that point, I was very clear on the ground rules: 1 – have fun 2- stay out of the water.
After the next half hour or so the heat of the Hawaii sun, the gentle breeze, and the waves crashing I think I may have dozed off for a few minutes. That is when my heart jumped out of my chest as I heard my daughter run up, she was soaking wet from going in the water. I quickly asked “where is your brother?” who I then saw running up from further down the beach somewhat shell shocked, soaked and covered head to toe in sand. He basically decided to take the board out and got pummeled in the surf. To put in perspective the water is pretty much flat with a clean 1 to 1.5 foot wave at most. This is by far one of the most gentle spots in Hawaii for kids. The ocean here in Maui has a very strong undercurrent and pull which is deceptive even for those who live in other coastal areas.
At any rate, my heart dropped because I knew that we seriously dodged a bullet. Deep down inside I was convinced my son would have not made it back to shore had he lost his grip on the board. I was so upset at myself that I took each of my kids one at a time to personally retest their swimming skills. Keep in mind they do perfectly fine in a swimming pool and are pretty much at the beach a few times a month. My daughter who is 5 was able to make it back to shore from just beyond the break without any issue. My son who is 7… well he didn’t pass the test and I had to step in.
It was with mixed emotions that I write this because generally speaking I go out of my way to be the best dad I can be and I definitely failed – big time. I really hate failing at anything let alone parenting. It is from our failures though we learn our most important lessons. Thank God everything was fine and it was a non-event but deep down inside I know we got lucky and I realized that as parents we must never let our guard down. In this era of helicopter parenting kids don’t roam as free as we did growing up. I know I need to allow for room to explore and let them be kids but the beach and water in general is something we all need to seriously respect. My hope that even if this helps one person it was worth me sharing.
I did some homework after the fact and on average one tourist a week dies in Hawaii, most of them from drowning. That’s 13 times the national average — and the number of drownings is on the rise. This validated my suspicion that if we had a near miss at this calm beach the risk at the real surf spots must be much greater.
Sometimes all it takes is one mistake and our world can come to a crashing halt. I enjoy working in an environment where we get managed to perfection, needless to say but my guard is back up on all fronts!
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