This week is the last week of school for my son.
Now I must embark on the task of finding activities that will keep my children busy while still maintaining my personal sanity.
As I fretted over my own children and what to do with them, I thought back to my childhood summers growing up.
The dawning of summer was one of my favorites. We spent eleven years in Lynnwood, Washington – a place that wasn’t well known for scorching summers. By mid-April, we began pestering Mom to wear our swimsuits.
She looked over from the table full of genealogy she was working on, or the book she was reading and say, “You can change into swimsuits when it is seventy degrees outside.”
We ran to the thermometer Dad had screwed to the side of the house and examined it, ignoring the fact that we could still see our breath in the mornings, or that we currently had three layers of clothing on.
We twisted our lips, and then our shoulders sagged. Definitely not seventy degrees yet.
Each day, we continued the same ritual, frustrated as the thermometer seemed to climb one or two degrees at a time.
Finally, by the end of the school year, someone squealed. “It’s seventy degrees!”
Several pairs of feet thundered up the stairs, into our bedrooms, and dug through our laundry until we found a swimsuit that fit (of course we’d been trying on our swimsuits for weeks, just to make sure).
It was an unwritten rule that the first one outside got control of the hose – and who they sprayed with the freezing cold water, so speed dressing was imperative!
After accidentally slipping on Becca’s swimsuit (too small), then Patty’s swimsuit (too big), I finally donned my swimsuit and ran out of the house with a tattered towel flung over my shoulder, feeling as if I’d just reenacted a version of Goldilocks and the Three Bears.
Outside, Matt was in control of the hose. Of course, he was. He didn’t have to share swimsuits with anyone!
His hose drooped over the large plastic swimming pool, water lazily spilling into the blue enclosure. Occasionally, if Cathy toddled too close to the pool, he’d whip the hose to the side and splash her, making her squeal in terror and run to the far side of the brown and green splotched yard.
After a few minutes of watching Matt fill the pool, I got tired of waiting. “Why don’t you make an arch with the water so we can at least run under and get used to the cold? That way we can play and fill the pool at the same time,” I said.
Matt looked at the pool, then at the hose. An evil glint seemed to appear as he slowly broke into a way-too-innocent grin. “Okay.”
Patty and Becca squealed and ran to get in line. Patty elbowed Becca out of the way and stood proudly in her red swimsuit, shoving her mangle of curls out of her face. “Me first!”
Matt stepped to the side and lifted the hose so the tip was above her head, and the water cascaded downward to complete the arc.
Patty ran through the arc and danced in the pool. Then Becca ran through, squealing when her feet touched the frigid water. I ran through too, but just as I hit the arc, Matt dropped the hose, spraying ice cold water in my face.
I shrieked and ran to the warm, dry cement near the deck’s stairs. I turned and stared at him, wild-eyed. “What’d you do that for?”
Matt didn’t answer. He was laughing too hard.
I balled my hands into fists and yell, “Mo-o-ooom! Matt’s spraying us with the hose!”
Through the open window leading to the kitchen, Mom said in her tired voice, “Matt, please stop splashing your sisters.”
I planted my fists on my hips and smirked. He rolled his eyes toward the sky. “Okay. You can jump over the water instead.”
I narrowed my eyes at him. “No splashing?”
He sighed. “No splashing.” He dropped the nozzle of the hose and put his thumb against the end, forcing the water to pressurize, escaping the opening in a wide spray. He let the tip rise slowly, then lower again and said, “Time it just right so you can jump over the water.”
First Cathy stepped over the spray, wobbling as her little legs struggled to balance while stepping over the side of the pool into the water. Then Becca, who ran through as quickly as she could, followed by Patty, who Matt tried to spray by lifting the water faster than usual.
Patty yelped then yelled, “Mo-om!”
Matt sighed again and shoved the hose at Patty. “I’m bored anyway. You take it.”
Patty grinned and grabbed the hose from him. Before long, the water arched high and low over the wading pool while each person took a running jump through the spray into the pool, gasping as their skin made contact with the frigid water. Then they bolted out of the pool and back into line, jumping up and down to keep from shivering.
Soon, Cathy wandered inside in search of warmth, and one by one we succumbed to the body-numbing cold and silently agreed that maybe, just maybe, seventy-degree weather isn’t quite warm enough to combat the stinging cold of the garden hose.