I donned my most modest, black swimsuit. I felt like a mature Wednesday Addams. It was a stark contrast to my middle son’s flashy flamingo trunks.
Summer isn’t quite my scene. Regardless, I readied myself and my three boys for a morning at the local splash park.
We all go with the same intention, right?
Wear the children out!
We hope that by suffering through the heat and shrill squeals our afternoon will be so much easier; dare I say a long nap will come of it?
Of course, they’re cute too and it’s one of the joys of motherhood watching them enjoy the summer fun.
But really – nap time.
I hunkered down at the last available lounge chair in the shade. I recited the rules while applying another generous coat of sunscreen before hurrying them along to play.
On the sideline, I pop in my earbuds and start on a podcast. Responsibly, I lower the volume to be able to hear any notables cries or calls for ‘mom.’
I flip between my Facebook feed and Instagram, glancing up to see the boys making friends and enemies; inciting splash wars. Every so often one would come sit next to me for a break. They’d sip water and ask did you see such and such? “Yep, I’m watching!”
“Come play with us!” my oldest asked.
“I’m here for you to play. Go enjoy it while we’re here,” I told him, and he hurried back to the water.
Another ten or so minutes went by before he returned to say, “come play with us pleeeaase?”
“Go play.” I put him off again.
He seemed disheartened as he walked away. But just how disheartened could a kid at a splash pad be, I wondered, unable to return my attention to my podcast.
He didn’t relent.
Again, he returned, “Please come play with us.”
So, I did.
Stopping the podcast, I wrapped my headphones around my phone and tucked it in my bag. Adjusting my suit, I hesitantly walked to the center of the splash pad where the water pools a couple of inches.
I turned to look at my sons – I didn’t know how to play at the splash pad – I’m 30 years old! They looked at me – not knowing how to play with me either.
We stood there shrugging until I kicked the water up towards them. They splashed back at me.
I picked up my oldest; wrestling him down into the shallow puddle just before the flamingo-clad one jumped on my back! They worked as a team to take me down. My youngest cheered them on from a safe distance.
Thoughts like, “I’m too old for this,” “Am I hanging out of this suit,” “What are people thinking?,” did cross my mind. But laughter quickly drowned out the doubts.
All sixty-eight pounds of my son sat on my foot as he wrapped his arms around my leg. I waddled over and shook him off under a sprayer. I outran his smaller accomplice leading him through a tunnel of showers. And I scooped up the little one to twirl him around in a fine mist.
I returned to my lounge chair soaking wet and looking through water-spotted sunglasses, but I could see the other women smiling at me.
I’m sure we put on quite a show wrestling there in the middle of the spray ground. The looks were interesting though. I felt no judgment. The smiles felt like respect.
I packed up and as we walked to the car my son said, in the most sincere tone, “Thank you for playing with us.”
The whole ride home the two talked about how good they got me too! Though I’d argue we were pretty evenly matched.
To the mamas on the sidelines, you will get no judgment from me, I know why you’re here. Go on and enjoy that podcast! Post your kid’s summer fun on your favorite social media or chat with a girlfriend. Do your thing.
But also consider this another invitation to play.
Come on in sister, the water is fine.
East Texas Splash Parks:
Whitehouse: Whitehouse Splash Park
Jacksonville: Nichols Green Splash Pad
Mineola: Myers Splash Park
Lufkin: Chambers Park
Longview: Information for Broughton Park, Jack Mann, Rotary Park, Spring Hill Park and Stamper Park Splash Pads can all be found here.
If you know of another East Texas splash pad let us know in the comments.