Today call me safety-conscious, a trait you’ll see I come by honestly. Yes, as the days lengthen and the temperatures rise, our thoughts bend toward summer; and more importantly, to summer safety.
To that end, I’ve sought inspiration from a picture taken of my sister and me in the early 1970s and have labored to produce a list that today’s conscientious parents may reference for important tips to maximize both safety and fun this season.
Presenting Nancy and Julie Return from the Beach, circa 1972:
(Side note – I’m the modest young lady on the right.)
- So you’ve lost the back seat to the station wagon. Fear not. Any folding chairs will suffice as a means of safe transportation. In fact, the rusted metal pair from the backyard would be perfect. (And rickety!) Simply place the chairs side by side into the rear of the car and insert children. They’ll probably stay put. (The chairs. The children. Either one.)
- No seat belts? No problem. If you drive very quickly, centrifugal forces will secure your kids safely to their chair backs. (As a bonus: Their gravitationally-morphed poses can masquerade as Rorschach quizzes for your entertainment.)
- Nothing says Favorite Beach Toy like Raggedy Ann, a doll clearly designed for exposure to sand and salt water. Leave those easy-to-rinse plastic pails and shovels at home. Instead, bring toys with stuffing. And yarn. Elements that really absorb tar.
- Sunblock is for suckers. Especially if your kids are very blond, very fair-skinned and have no base-tan whatsoever. In fact, baby oil is a natural epidermal softener. (And shiny!)
- You know what’s really practical? Sneakers at the beach. Laced-up Stride Rites are much better than flip flops at providing traction in the hot sand. Also, there’s the rubbing; and an angry rash is a Beach Badge of Honor. (Note: Try scotch-guarding the socks to maximize waterproofing. And the friction.)
- Matching bathing suits – A must when deciding which sunburned kids are yours. Extra points for selections with ruffles and elastic as these become very comfortable when wet.
- Play The Beach Boys very loudly while your children nap in the car; this will train them to sleep through any noise. And also to appreciate the importance of Good Vibrations.
- Take pictures of the wise parenting decisions you make. Display them prominently in frames around the house so your children can learn from your choices. Or laugh at you. Or both.
I only wish I’d heeded the many lessons available in this photograph when my own children were small. Instead, I secured them into Fire-Station-Approved car seats (I’m pretty sure I’m still supposed to be in a booster seat by today’s standards). I slathered my kids with Coppertone Water Babies SPF 100+ and brushed sand from their bodies with baby powder. I spent a college tuition on beach/pool/sand toys that looked like everyone else’s buckets and rakes and hence were mistakenly packed into the wrong station wagon.
No one would’ve brought a Raggedy Ann doll home by accident.
Still. It’s never too late to teach an old dog new tricks (or get her into a suit with ruffles and elastic). So if you’re psyched for a summer of safety and fun? Let’s meet at the nearest sandy beach.
You bring the baby oil; I’ll bring The Beach Boys eight track tape.
Good vibrations, indeed.