Into the Deep

12 Jul

Z in scuba gear exiting a boat with a giant stride.

One small step for mankind... One giant stride for a boy.

[tweetmeme source=”@mummy_t” only_single=false]Why learn to dive?


Scuba diving opens up an entire new world. There’s the fluid, graceful movement in three dimensions, moving up or down (quite literally) on a breath, turning any way you wish like a gymnast in zero gravity, powered only by your legs and fins.

There’s the chance to explore the complex ecosystems of coral reef: a surrealist, ancient, technicolour landscape, populated by a myriad creatures who, unlike their land equivalents, have yet to learn to fear human beings.

There’s that warm, buzzed glow of discovery you get when you surface. And that edge of anticipation as you take the giant stride off the side of the boat…

Which is exactly what Z is doing, in the picture above. (The ginormous wetsuit is, in fact, an extra small.) It’s his first giant stride as a qualified Junior Open Water diver, off Koh Tao, Thailand.

He’s passed the same theory exam as adults do. He can assemble his kit, safety check a buddy and take it all apart and clean it once he’s done. He’s mastered the same 21 skills and emergency procedures as any adult.

Including, to much hilarity from the sceptical ex-Marines on our dive boat, towing a substantial adult diver, in full kit, 25 metres on the surface. (Memo to self: must stop calling him “cherub” in public.)

He understands lung over-expansion injuries, decompression sickness and nitrogen narcosis. And that a friend of his instructor’s got it so badly that he thought he was a dolphin and removed all his diving kit, 50 metres under the sea.

In fact, over the last two days he’s been having a blast. He’s doubled as a drowning diver for the large chaps doing the rescue diver course.

He’s decided I’m “no fun” for refusing to allow him to swan dive off the top deck with the big lads (it was the lower deck which bothered me, not the height).

Z descending a guideline under the water in scuba gear, one hand on the rope.

Into the blue...

All the same, it was a slightly eerie feeling watching him descend the guideline into the murky blue and disappear. First a blur. Then a stream of bubbles. Then… well, nothing.

It wasn’t, honestly, that I was worried, or counting the minutes until he returned. He had mastered his skills. He was one on one with an instructor. The bottom was no more than 12 metres deep.

And he’s a sensible child. Not one to go heading off into the wide blue open sans instructor, or panic, take a lungful of air and head for the surface…

More, I suppose, a sharp realisation of his ever-growing independence. And a very visual realisation, too, as he disappeared from view.

From birth, parenting’s about enabling your children to go out into the world independently, do their own thing, manage their own risk.

It is, and I’m aware how paradoxical this sounds given we spend so much time together now, a constant process of letting go. And watching your little boy disappear into the depths feels a very firm reminder of how much more letting go there is to come.

How did our first joint dive go?

Well, thank you.

But I guess I focused less onn the teeming marine life and the tragically bleached coral than his legs, still so little and so skinny, propelling him through the water, as he forged ahead of me.

Did he look back?

Once in a while. To check I was OK…

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10 Responses to “Into the Deep”

  1. jessiev July 12, 2010 at 7:24 am #

    i love this. there is NOTHING like scuba diving!! and YAY z, for starting so early. LIFE IS GOOD!

    • MummyT July 12, 2010 at 7:30 am #

      Thank you! According to the guys at the dive school, they get a lot of families here where the parents leave the kids with a babysitter while they go diving… Always seems rather odd to me.

  2. nicole curry July 12, 2010 at 8:59 am #

    Zeb turns 10 next week and wants to learn to dive here in Bali. Glad to see your Z is enjoying it so much:)

    • MummyT July 12, 2010 at 11:43 am #

      Totally go for it! I’d recommend you check out the course books for PADI and SSI ahead of time, and pick whichever seems easier for him to get along with. There’s quite a lot of learning to do on top of the physical skills and they timetable it just as they would an adult course (three hefty chapters an evening). Also, check they have child-size kit (half-size cylinders are easier to manage, and the BCD really needs to fit well) before you make a call… How long are you in Bali?

  3. Helen July 12, 2010 at 3:38 pm #

    Lucky lad, sounds fantastic!

  4. nicole curry July 15, 2010 at 10:31 am #

    Well 3 weeks was the plan…but Are youngest Arlo broke his arm two days into our trip…He and I flew back to Singapore yesterday to have pins put in it. We need to back here in 2 weeks to get the pins out so I think we will come back her for a few days before heading back to Ho chi…although I have an itch to maybe stay in bali. the have a great looking school…so who knows. Thanks for the dive info. The boys are learning to surf the next few days….Are you in Malaysia?

    • MummyT July 15, 2010 at 5:44 pm #

      yeah. Penang. Very, very calm after Vietnam and Thailand: very developed, too. God, you haven’t had much luck recently, have you? We are looking at Bali in Oct: let me know how surfing goes. I’d like to learn. Z too….

  5. nicole curry July 15, 2010 at 10:31 am #

    opps menat “our” not “are”…

  6. nicole curry July 15, 2010 at 10:32 am #

    opps meant “our” not “are”

  7. nicole curry July 15, 2010 at 10:34 am #

    Sorry, need to look twice before pushing submit! I think I need more sleep..last few days have been too long!!

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