I’ve been wanting to set up Edith’s wading pool and little splash pad in the backyard on the weekend, but it always seems like so much work to get it going. I have to set the stuff up, get Edith into all her gear and sunscreen, prep the back porch with towels and water and snacks — every time I thought through the process, yet another step or detail would occur to me, and it just seemed like it might not be worth bothering with.
But on Saturday, we had four hours between her nap and dinner and it was blazing hot out, so I finally did it. It took a lot to get everything set up, especially as Edith insisted on coming out with me and being held under one arm like a 22 lb. sack of potatoes while I fought with various hose attachments, and there was an incident where I had to set her down for a second and disappear around the house, which she reacted to as if I had abandoned her on the side of the interstate and told her to find her own way home, but finally everything was set up and Edith was in her full rash guard and sun hat and water shoes and zinc oxide and mosquito repellent and I had brought out a towel and water and two little oranges for a snack, and it was time to play!
At first, Edith wasn’t into it, mostly because of the Earlier Incident and also because I was too invested — she smelled a rat. She toddled around the porch with an orange in each hand eyeing me suspiciously while I stood below her in the yard, sweating profusely and calling, “come on, Edith! This will be fun! You will love it! You love the water!”
I think I remember childhood more distinctly than many people, and I recall what it feels like to have various adults constantly looming over you with giant grins pasted on their faces and urging you to partake in some sort of heavily arranged “fun” with barely concealed desperation behind their frantic eyes. It was so apparent that the other half of “you will have fun” was “you had goddamned better or I am going to lose my whole entire mind” and that was never conducive to a relaxed good time.
So I tried to be genuinely ok with Edith never getting in. But eventually she did, and she had a really good time tossing the oranges from the wading pool to the splash pad and back and chasing after them.
And I had such a great time watching her have a good time! This is a big reason why I had a kid — I have never really been able to have fun, because first I was too self-conscious to enjoy myself, and then I was too anxious/depressed, and by the time I had gotten over all that, I was bored with everything and hard to impress. But I knew it would be really fun to watch a little kid have fun all the time, and it is. And it’s so easy to do! I mean, this whole thing was sort of a hassle, but it was so easy to turn the back yard into a marvelous, unexpected, summertime adventure for Edith.
And then after, we stood on the shady back porch resting and eating the oranges, and that was exactly what she needed to do after getting all hot and hungry and tired, which I had anticipated and prepped for, and it’s just really satisfying and nice to take care of someone and make sure they really enjoy themselves. It’s especially nice when that someone is a wide-eyed laughing adorable little cartoon character whose reactions to everything are unexpected and hilarious.
I really like living with a toddler. She is a 24/7 cyclone of destruction and chaos, but she’s very charming about it, and ultimately I guess it’s worth it.