Bare feet and Swimsuits

91 3 kids beach

Florida. Manasota Key.  Sunburn. Sand. Beach. While the cold grey Wisconsin spring progressed in increments, we enjoyed summer. The private beach was ideal for eight energetic, curious children. The water  was warm enough to entice, the  shoreline was generous with the ocean’s refuse of shells, while the sand begged to be sifted, shoveled and engineered into castles. The morning lengthened luxuriously, until suddenly it was noon. My parents were preparing dinner. Rules from my childhood had me hurrying the children back to the cottages. Do not be late…for dinner…for anything… ever. And never come to the table with bare feet or in a swimsuit.

Bare feet were not a problem. Back in my childhood (often referred to by my children as the Dark Ages) we simply slipped into a pair of flip flops. (We had another name for the footwear, but it has since taken on other connotations.I’ll stick with the modern designation.) The swim suits were a different matter. My father often chose to vacation at a lake cottage, or at my aunt’s lake home. Neither had a beach in the real sense. They did have docks for jumping,(pushing, shoving) and tubes for floating, (racing, tipping). Our days of lake fun were interrupted by the rule: Change before the meal. Ugh. It is difficult to decide what is more unpleasant, peeling off a wet suit or putting on a wet one. To make life even more miserable, my aunt had no such rules. Never-the-less…

I hurried the children from the beach. “You’ll need to change before we eat.” I warned them. “Hurry and rinse off, hang your suits and towels on the line. You’ll have to be quick. Grandpa doesn’t do ‘late.'” When we entered the yard tables were set in the shade. Dad waited, dinner waited. “Hurry and dress.” I admonished…again.

“Dress? No, they can eat like they are. No need when they’re going back to the beach anyway.” Grandpa made short work of “Dad’s” rule. With bare feet and in swim suits we ate. Afterwards Dad waved away offers of the children’s help with clean-up. Really Dad? What happened to “Don’t make your mother do all this, help, don’t wait to be told.”?Another Dad rule Grandpa ignored.  My childhood would have been way more fun if Dad had listened to Grandpa!



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