If it’s not fun, you’re not doing it right.
~ Bob Basso
I am Tysdaddy, the God of Wet Children. The Stirrer of Soaky Shenanigans. And I don’t care what they think.
Let me explain . . .
Today was Field Day at the elementary school my children attend, a day set aside at the end of the academic year for the kids to get out, unwind, yell a lot, and have fun. And, as she does every year, my wife signed us up to work an activity for the munchkins. This year, we were assigned to lead a game called Aqua Bombs. The premise is simple, really: Take two buckets filled with water, throw in a bunch of those little spongy balls like you see at the beach or in the pool, add some kids, and let them play catch.
People are going to get wet. And we were the star attraction.
The little tykes, from kindergarten through third grade, played nice for the most part. They tossed their watery projectiles and, when the whistle blew ending their session, they trod away content, albeit a little damp. We kept the peace as best as any set of parent volunteers should be expected to: We encouraged sharing; told them that, no, dumping the bucket on Johnnie’s head, while surely a seemingly fun enterprise, might not be appropriate; smiled a lot. And I filled up the buckets when needed by lugging them to the maintenance area and lugging them back so the fun could continue.
That last part? Boring. And a bit too laborious for a guy on his day off.
So, with a wink and a smile, I suggested to the maintenance dude that he hook me up with a hose. Preferably with a squirty thingy on the end . . . whatever the hell those thingies are called. He took me seriously, and during the fourth- and fifth-grade session, he delivered.
My AHED defines mayhem as “A state of violent disorder or riotous confusion; havoc.”
Trust me, it wasn’t that bad.
Well . . . maybe for a moment or two. But only if you consider a high-velocity stream of water in the face violent. They begged, I swear! And I’ve never been one to deny a bunch of kids a good time. Definitely not when there is water involved. Most definitely not when they beg. And they were polite! The entire group joined me in a rousing chorus of “THANK YOU, MR. MAINTENANCE DUDE!” The angels sang hallelujah! The sun, as if on cue, sprang from behind the as-of-late ever-present clouds and showered us with her blessed presence. A throng of parched worshippers surrounded me and lapped up gallon after glorious gallon of the icy nectar of the Earth. Other adults stood at the perimeter of our merry mob, smiles on their faces, jealousy seeping from every orifice of their being. I was the cool parent, and their games sucked. And they were cool with that.
Yeah, people got wet.
And then a cackle broke through the din. A couple actually. Two teachers rained on our party.
“They have to wear those clothes the rest of the day, you know?!” seemed to be the sum of their grievances.
Duh. I knew that. The kids knew that. Yeah, there would be some chaffing. Maybe a few desks or lunch tables marked with glistening impressions of still-damp forearms. Perhaps a sniffle or two after returning inside to the air-conditioned confines. But . . . really. Honestly! They’re kids. And, given enough exposure to pure air, they will dry.
But the looks continued. The lowered chins and upturned eyes and the hands on the hips. The message was clear: “Stop this, Mr. Thomas!” So, I holstered the hose, using it only to fill the buckets, and then, exasperated by it all, eventually wound it back up, gathered the balls, and let the kids wander off to play other, drier, games, disheartened frowns of their faces. But not before giving them a pep talk about not complaining, not going to the nurse to ask for dry clothes, and definitely not griping about the unfairness of it all. It was a good speech, like the kind the coaches in movies give to their teams before marching onto the field to face some dominating adversary. We would kill them with kindness.
Or something like that.
During the lunch break, my wife and I stopped at the local supermarket for a salad, where I also decided to pick up a Louisiana Crunch Cake that I could inconspicuously sneak into the teacher’s lounge. “A peace offering,” I told the principal. She just smiled and told me all was hunky dory. “It’s about having fun, isn’t it?” she confided.
I like her. She gets it. I think I just might have to dump some Gatorade over her head next time I see her. Now that would be wet, soaky fun . . .