In November 1986, when my oldest son was eighteen months old, my parents took the two of us to Florida’s gulf coast to the beach to get away from the stresses of life for a week. Being very precocious, we explained to him on the long car ride that he was not to go into the water without holding one of our hands because we didn’t want the strong undertow to take him out to sea. He accepted the explanation without question, which was surprising as he was always very curious.
Upon arriving at the beach, we stripped him down to his diaper and t-shirt. For a while we sat in the cool sand and built sand castles, but eventually he decided he wanted to play in the water. He held tightly to my hand and we stepped into the foaming surf just as a wave slid up the shore. We both gasped at the first touch of the chilly salt water on our feet. I encouraged him to step out further with me, wanting him to feel the sand slide away under his little feet as the tide pulled at him.
He resisted my gentle prodding, so I glanced down and asked what was wrong. With very serious, concerned blue eyes he looked up at me and said, “Under-toad get me.” After containing my laughter, I picked him up and dipped his feet into the water over and over. He felt more secure and we laughed and played and had a very enjoyable day at the beach.