In Deep Water

Swimming lessons had us at the pool more often this summer, and the most common phrase I heard there was “Don’t go so deep!”

Why are children allured by deep water? They splash and play happily, all while edging closer and closer to that moment when the level of the water will be above their noses. Mothers may issue cautions aplenty, but children still drift ever closer to the deep end.

In E.B. White’s classic children’s tale The Trumpet of the Swan, the main character Louis contemplates deep water: “Louis had been told once by his father what happened to deep-sea divers when they go far, far down in the ocean. At great depths, where the pressure is great and the watery world is strange and mysterious, divers sometimes experience what they call ‘the rapture of the deep.’ They feel so completely peaceful and enchanted, they never want to return to the surface.”

As I sat by the pool this summer, the prevalent mention of sleep aids for children was second only to “Don’t go so deep!”

On June 20, Elizabeth Chang wrote an article for The Washington Post which detailed the growing problem of pediatric ingestion of melatonin, one common sleep aid. “From January 2012 through December 2021, the annual number of pediatric ingestions of melatonin reported to poison control centers across the United States rose a whopping 530 percent, with a total of 260,435 ingestions reported over that time.”

Sales of melatonin in the U.S. have skyrocketed in just the past four years, increasing by more than a million dollars every year. In 2020, melatonin was the #1 ingested substance reported to poison control centers. 

In our quest for evening peace and quiet time to ourselves, parents are clearly wading into some deep waters.

One other poolside conversation stands out from this summer. I sat chatting with a friend who is a teacher’s aide at a local public school. She lamented the abuse, neglect, and developmental delay of many of her students. She indicated that their troubles are increasing.

Then, she said, “I really feel like it is the more prevalent use of marijuana in the homes and the parents giving approval for their children to use marijuana too.”

I hastily agreed with her. In our community, it is not unusual for children in the elementary grades to have already experimented with marijuana, sometimes with the approval of parents. 

However, a third mom sitting nearby, strongly disagreed. “Of course it isn’t marijuana!” she argued. “Marijuana has no negative side effects.”

The subject changed, but I was left pondering as each of us called to our children, “Don’t go so deep!”

We are letting the allure of mind altering substances lead us into deep waters where we will soon be over our heads.

Let us not turn to substances- natural, medical, pharmaceutical, or otherwise- to cater to our selfishness and sin. Instead, let us forsake the allure of sin and cling to the Savior who loves us and who gently calls, “Don’t go so deep.”

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