The children’s book author Jon Sciezska once wrote that boys and fire are like iron and magnets: no matter what you do, somehow they will always find each other.
I think this adage must be even more so with water and my children. They are always getting into it — sneaking cups of it out of the kitchen for tea parties, plugging the bathroom sink and creating a soup of toys and soapsuds, industriously splashing each and every puddle in the street. Bathtime takes forever in my house, and the kids have an entire flotilla of plastic boats and waterproof dolls that they send on numerous aquatic adventures. (Probably my favorite of these was the period a few years ago during which Jeffrey insisted on “baptizing” the dolls during each bath.)
By far the favorite of the children’s water sports is running around in the sprinkler, or barring that, simply messing about with the hose, whether in bathing suits or not.
It was warm enough this past Friday that the kids did just that — all on their own, Jeffrey and Eleanor fished out their swimsuits, then revved up the garden hose. I came running when they doused a still-clothed William and set him to crying. But once the lil’ guy was stripped down to his diaper and allowed to splash a bit, he was just fine.
I attatched the hose to the sprinkler, to minimize the water waste, but they soon learned to unscrew it. I let them fill up the sandbox with water and then confiscated the hose altogether. They had a ball creating a hearty soup of mud, sticks, toys, and the towel I had given them to dry off with.
Last month, Jeffrey had a friend over to play, and they decided to create an “experiment” in the same sandbox — sans garden hose and swimsuits, of course. They gleefully swamped together a variety of backyard found objects, and I was tickled to see two boys happily engaging in outdoorsy Boy Things — until I found them in the kitchen, downing cup after cup of water.
Why were they so thirsty?
“We were doing an experiment,” explained Jeffrey.
“Yeah,” said his friend. “To find out if soap tastes bad or not.”
Peeking into the backyard, I saw a bottle of hand soap sticking out of the sandbox debris. The bottle that’s usually in the children’s big bathroom.
“We found out that it doesn’t taste that good,” said Jeffrey.
I’m guessing that the learning curve was pretty small on that one.
For further reading:
King Bidgood’s in the Bathtub by Don and Audrey Wood. A gleefully silly story about a vivacious king who decides to do all his kingly duties from the tub — eating, fishing, schooling. A variety of stuffy-looking courtiers get pulled in with him, to sloppy, slippy effect. (“Today we fish in the tub!”) Don Woods’ Caldecott Honor-winning illustrations of bewigged, lace-covered dukes and knights getting doused are hilariously perfect. One of my favorite read-alouds.