Mr. Bailey and I are currently enduring the specter of swim lessons for our darling Secondo, aged 3. This endearing experience involves greasing her down with sunscreen each afternoon right around the witching hour, wiggling into her bathing suit, remembering a towel, the right pair of goggles, a cool bottle of water, a snack for afterwards, an optional bribe and a pair of flip flops (either “Sparklies” or “Kitty-Cats” are usually the preferred choice).
If we are lucky, the swim lesson starts with a tentative smile. If we are unlucky, the swim lesson starts with a 20-minute scream fest and a lot of interest in other people’s kids as we pretend not to notice it is our darling girl who is screaming her head off to get out of the shallow end.
During these intense periods of profound interest in other people’s children I have noticed something unique about bathing suits these days. Mostly that they are more like swimming costumes of old.
Turtle-necked, long-sleeved, to-the-knee renditions of the wooly contraptions of old except in bathing suit material and the ugliest color palette ever created. Flourescent pinks and blues and greens, with exaggerated stitching for accents.
Kids being kids, they still manage to look perfectly adorable in them in what look like heat-stroke inducing outfits.
Oh, plus, the costumes come with matching hats. Most with multiple panels, back, sides and sometimes, front. I have yet to see one with goggles built in, but you know that day is coming.
Loving, doting parents gingerly enter the pool with these swaddled children. Their hearts are pure — to protect their babies from the harmful effects of the throbbing summer sun. And I say good on them.
But I think about the days of my childhood, when suits wore out after about five days and then the sun just baked you right through your trunks or tankini so that by the end of the summer your skin was 10 times browner than your best pair of khakis.
And yes, we might have a few more wrinkles now, but we survived it, felt the suns strong rays egg us back into the pool, warm our legs as a breeze off of wet skin made it seem suddenly much cooler than it was.
Maybe we’ll go back to that one day — or maybe not. In the meantime, I’m enjoying ignoring whoever that kid is who is screaming for her MamaMAMAMAAAMAAA! in the toddler swim class, and taking in those gorgeous swimming costumes of 2010.