Mama, Does Anything Make You Die?

img_5648Some “bigger girl” told Annika (when they were in the pool last week) that if you swallow pool water you can die. We did not know the conversation occurred.

Last week, Annika came downstairs when we thought she was already asleep. She walked into the office, lip quivering and eyes brimmed with tears, totally choked up, “I swallowed some pool water in Busy Buddies today!” She falls into surrendered crying.

“That’s okay, SweetPie! We all swallow pool water sometimes.”, my heart breaking for her.

“But I swallow it EVERY day!”

“Oh, Baby, that’s totally fine. I swallowed pool water every day when I was your age. That’s part of learning how to swim!”. I’m trying to find the most reassuring voice that exists in the universe to somehow ease her agony.

“But this bigger girl told me that if you swallow pool water you will die!” A new burst of angst.

“That bigger girl is very wrong. She must have gotten wrong information somewhere. I have swallowed TONS of pool water and I am still totally fine. Never even got sick from it.”

We sit together for a while. She seems to begin feeling better. Off to bed.

The next morning…

“Mama, does anything make you die?”


“Well, um, some things can make you die but they don’t happen easily. What are you thinking about?”

“Do you die if you drink peeps?”, she’s choking up again. I’m beginning to see the connection.

“You don’t want to drink peeps straight, certainly, but it doesn’t make you die.”, I’m trying here. This isn’t simple.

She’s crying again, “But I make peeps in the pool and I drink the water!”. Sobbing.

“Oh, honey, all kids make peeps in the pool! And all kids drink the pool water. That’s why they have chlorine. It gets the pool all clean right away to keep you safe.”

And this is the kind of conversation we have at least five times a day right now. Often it’s about the pool water, but sometimes it’s about other things like “Mama, I just swallowed the smell I breathed of that baby.” Why, oh, why is growing up so complex and intense on these poor souls at times?

P.S. We did check this out with our doctor at their recent appointment and she said this is totally normal (whew!) as they develop really strong imaginations. In fact, she said that the layers of thinking that require Annika to process things like swallowing smells indicate she is “very bright.” Alas.

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