Parents Perspective

Our Beach Towel Party

family at the beach
Editor's Note: In an ongoing series, Dr. Harley A. Rotbart, a Parents advisor, guest blogs once a month with advice, tips, and personal stories on how parents can "savor the moment" and maximize the time they spend with kids. Read more posts by Harley Rotbart on Goodyblog and on Parents Perspective.

This year marks the Golden Anniversary of the classic 1965 beach party movie, Beach Blanket Bingo, with Annette Funicello and Frankie Avalon. I remember it well – I was 12 years old and landlocked in Denver, Colorado, jealous of those lucky coastal beach bums with their awesome tans and beautiful girlfriends. Now, fast forward 50 years (OMG, 50 years!) and we just had a Beach Blanket party of our own. Well, to be perfectly accurate, a Beach Towel party. And, actually, it wasn't much of a party. But it did bring back a flood of very happy memories.

It was mid-afternoon a few weeks ago when the summer storm to top all summer storms rolled in. Still landlocked in Denver all these years later, I imagined this must be what it would be like to be in a Caribbean hurricane. Blackened sky, ferocious winds, torrential rain with golf ball size hail. The downpour was so dense we could see nothing out the windows but water. Gales of rain slamming into the house, massive street flooding, downed trees and power lines, and 3 inches of hail on the lawn. Finally, our poor basement windows surrendered under the strain, and rainwater from the overflowing window wells began cascading down the walls of the basement family room. We ran for towels. Every towel in every bathroom, linen closet, and storage bin. That's when our kids' childhoods flashed before our eyes and our kids' childhood heroes, immortalized on tattered beach and bath towels, came to our rescue.

With our basement under assault and nearly underwater, we found Nemo just in time, right there on the once bold, now faded, blue towel where we left him long ago. Then Ariel, on her Little Mermaid towel, gracefully swam to our aid. More piles of towels heaved down the basement steps and out jumped the Ninja Turtles, Barbie and Ken, Beauty and the Beast, overjoyed to be needed again after all these years. Now ragged and worn, these beach towels once wrapped and warmed our babies, and were far too important to our memories to ever discard. As I held Simba and Mufasa, with pride, under one soaked window well, my wife battled the flooded carpet with Woody and Buzz Lightyear under her feet. Just as the electrical power went out, we grabbed the Power Rangers towel, and then out of the heap appeared Princess Jasmine and Aladdin with his magical, and oh-so-timely lantern.

Finally the rain stopped and the weeping walls began to dry. It would take days to dry out the carpet, so our kids' childhood heroes went through the clothes dryer countless times and eagerly returned for additional tours of basement duty.

As we were gathering up the final batch of towels and leaving the basement in the hands of mere room fans, our 25 year old daughter called from New York where she is now working. "I can't believe this – I just read Disney is releasing Aladdin again in October. I loved that movie! How old was I when we saw it?"

You were 3, sweetheart, and we have the wet towel to prove it.

Dr. Harley A. Rotbart
Dr. Harley A. Rotbart is Professor and Vice Chairman Emeritus of Pediatrics at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and Children's Hospital Colorado. He is the author of four books for parents and families, including No Regrets Parenting and 940 Saturdays. He is also a Parents advisor and a contributor to The New York Times Motherlode blog. Visit his blog at and follow him on Facebook and Twitter (@NoRegretsParent).

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