Counting Heads

It has been a few years since I have had to do any head counting here on the beach and it didn’t really hit home until I spent about a half hour or so on the beach in front of Jan’s house yesterday.

We have a really nice swimming beach here on Gitchee Gumee and it is actually relatively safe compared to many beaches elsewhere. There is a system of sandbars, usually two, sometimes there is a third. It is usually shallow enough for even the smallest of toddlers to get to the first sandbar. And it’s shallow enough that I don’t have any memories of not being able to walk to the second. After that, the bottom slopes off gradually until it is over your head. No sharp drop-offs here. Also, there is no undertow. Grandroobly theorized that was because there is a big island in the middle of the bay. I don’t know if he was right or not but kids have drowned in places up the shore a way where there is no island to break the action of the water in the big lake. No one has ever drowned on our beach, knock on wood.

So, it is pretty safe here. But. Water is water and kids (and maybe some others ;-)) need some supervision around almost any body of water. Two-year-olds tend to just keep on walking until they get into deep enough water that they tip over. Y’all, you need to be RIGHT THERE TO PULL THEM UP WHEN THEY DO THAT! Sorry ’bout that outburst, I’ve heard the lifeguards at Vet’s Pool complain about inattentive mothers a few too many times.

Anyway, back in the day, I would be down on the beach here and my kids and my brother’s kids and my cousins’ kids would be swimming and all the moms would be constantly counting heads. Who is in the water? Who is on the beach? Where is Mouse? Liz, did she go up to the cabin? Yes, mama. And once, a young Mullin relative was here who dived a lot and it always seemed to me like an eternity before her head would pop up again. Watching kids swim in a lake is not the same thing as being a lifeguard at a pool where you are looking down into clear chlorine-permeated water and you can see people hanging about lifeless under the water. Theoretically, anyway.

I dunno when I actually stopped watching my kids swim. At some point, I realized that they were probably okay doing whatever kind of swimming they were doing which mostly entailed walking out into the water up to their necks, getting wet, *maybe* splashing people who were not already wet and just generally getting cooled off. Yesterday, all eight of Jan’s grandchildren were going in and out of the water in various combinations. Jan and Katie and Kristen were doing the head count. I got caught up in it for a while. Eight heads? Okay, one, two, three, four, five, six, seven. Where is the eighth? Well, whoever it was, Jan or Katie or Kristen accounted for him/her in about a split second, before I had a chance to get freaked about it.

This afternoon, I sat out there on the beach with the GG and Bugs and Horsey and two feisty old octo-women. It was fun. I didn’t have to count heads. I was the *only* person who went swimming. I have no point to make here. Except that I love this place. It is a good place to bring up children, even if they are only here for short periods of time.

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