Dear Grandparenting: Let me tell you about the trouble I got into babysitting my grandson at the beach in Miami, Floridda, where I live.
Little Bradley is four years old. I was in my beach chair, reading my book like always. Bradley was right in front of me in the sand. I reached for my cell phone in my bag but could not put my hand on it, so I opened up the bag to look around. When I glanced back up Bradley was gone.
I have never been that panicked in my whole life. I went ballistic, thinking something awful might happen. Fortunately Bradley was five yards away behind a big beach umbrella where I couldn’t see him at first.
Never again I told myself. Next time I fastened one end of a dog leash to a loop on Bradley’s swim trunks. Then I wrapped the other end around my wrist to keep Bradley nearby while he played in the sand. Perfect!
I told my daughter, thinking she might get a kick out of it. She exploded instead, insisting that was no way to treat her child. Was I really so wrong? I get this feeling Bradley will not be going to beach with me again anytime soon. Sue Simmons, Miami, FL
Dear Sue: People of all ages love the ocean, drawn to the sound, fury, natural beauty and its capacity to entertain small children with minimal adult supervision.
But the ocean’s edge is not necessarily a child-friendly place. Gone are the days when guardians could relax at the beach, reading or dozing off while minding children at the seashore. It can all go wrong in a nanosecond.
Rule No. 1 is never turn your back on the waves. Unaccompanied toddlers are bowled over and roughed up. Older grandchildren accustomed to swimming in pools often underestimate risks and overestimate their ability to handle waves and currents. Either can become traumatized. And as beaches become more crowded, they draw more characters you don’t want children mingling with.
Gathering up the sunscreen, drinks and snacks, plastic shovels and scoops, etc. necessary to avoid childhood meltdowns is just the first step toward enjoying a good, safe beach day. Check with lifeguards for dangerous places to play and riptides. Guardians should walk along with small children exploring the beach, and stand close behind when they are around the water’s edge. Teach your grandchild to respect the ocean and lose that leash. It’s not a good look.
GRAND REMARK OF THE WEEK
Thomas Allen from Everett, Washington, sends along this old Welsh proverb: “Perfect love sometimes does not come until the first grandchild.”
Dee and Tom, married more than 50 years, have eight grandchildren. Together with Key, they welcome questions, suggestions and Grand Remarks of the Week. Send to P.O. Box 27454, Towson, MD, 21285. Call 410-963-4426.