Yesterday was a great day to be outside. “A sunny, beautiful day”, as DD1 calls it. It was so nice that the girls and I drove up to the regional Zoo with our neighbor and her youngest son. We saw the requisite lions, tigers, and bears; we also got to pet some goats and sheep, make faces at the monkeys, and see a hippo bathing in the spring sun. But while the zoo was a fun excursion, it was nothing compared to our impromptu playtime later in the afternoon.
About an hour after returning home, the neighbor boy (age five) wandered over to our house. Obviously bored, he wanted to play with the DDs some more. It was evident that all the kids were still a little wound up from the day’s excitement and long car ride, so I shooed them out the front door, following quickly behind them with a bucket of water and two little plastic watering cans. Their eyes lit up at the prospect of playing with some water. DD1 and the neighbor’s DS quickly took over the cans, filling them in the bucket and pouring the water back in. This led to them watering the flowers, the shrubs, and a couple of trees- which needed to be done, anyway, so hooray! DD2 splashed in the bucket for a bit, and then moved over to the stack of stainless steel mixing bowls I had brought out for them. We followed up with some small paintbrushes, to “paint” the driveway with water, then a bag of bath toys, then another bucket of water to replenish the “paint” supply. I got tired of filling up the bucket and brought out my giant stock pot. The neighbor’s sister wandered over, and she gamely joined in the fun. Now there were four happy children, busily dumping and pouring and painting out in front of the house.
I could have poured a cuppa and sat on a lawn chair, so enthralled were the kids with this normally forbidden water-a-thon. But something drove me back into the house, deep into the crevasses of my kitchen, searching for large pots and bowls and spoons and odd cups to add to the fun outside. I brought pot after pot of water to my happy little gardeners and chef and artist. DD2 discovered how much fun a whisk could be, while DD1 and the neighbor boy continued watering all the vegetation. The neighbor girl was exploring sidewalk chalk as a water-color medium, and producing fascinating results. The other kids joined in on the chalk. I did, too. We all wetted our chalk and dragged it through little puddles on the cement, gawking at the vibrant colors and spreading them around in brightly-hued pools.
DH and my neighbor both came out and saw all the pots and buckets and laughed at the scene. It was crazy, but the kids were having such a good time. Everyone was laughing and playing so nicely. It was so unusual to be playing with buckets of water like this that they didn’t even think to act up, fight, or complain. DH left to get some takeout food, and I went back in to refill the stock pot. DD1 had climbed in it, and most of the water sloshed out during her ingress and egress. I decided to put warm, soapy water in it so the kids could wash some of the chalk off their hands.
When I came back with the stockpot full of sudsy water, I found DD1 sitting inside the plastic bucket. She eagerly left it behind for the new, bigger, soapier pot of warm water. It made sense to take off DD2’s diaper at this point, since she was a little saggy in the behind and needed changed, anyway. DD1 thought this was a great idea, and immediately shed all of her clothes, too. The neighbor boy got into the stockpot while DD1 was undressing, and decided he really liked taking a bath there. I felt bad that the girls weren’t getting much soaking time, though, so I retrieved our big plastic Rubbermaid laundry basket. I filled that with some warm soapy water, too, and soon, all three kids were having a nice bath on the front yard. The sister and I had a great time filming them, and DH came back to quite a sight in the driveway.
Nearly three hours, four towels, two squirt guns and a bag of tacos later, we all slowly headed back into our respective houses. I have to admit to feeling a bit self-satisfied, having orchestrated the wildly successful afternoon play. And hopefully, our good, clean fun yesterday is just the start of a good, fun summer ahead.