The kids and I visited a splash pad the other day. The high was around 97 degrees and I needed to make another trip to the truck dealership in Morgan, a town twenty minutes from ours, so we also made time to play at the Morgan splash pad. Our town doesn't have a splash pad and this park is about the same distance from our house as the other two splash pads in the area.
I like splash pads better than pools at this stage in my kids' lives. 1- They are free! 2- My kids don't fully swim yet and at a splash pad, there is water to run through but zero chance of drowning. (Don't get me wrong, I - as the crazy mom I am - have already thought of the other safety hazards at splash pads: slipping and hitting your head on concrete, running into another child then falling and hitting your head, also running into a metal pole with your head. So basically head injuries.) But it's mostly like sending your kid to run through really fun sprinklers and you don't have to do any of the work of setting it up.
This trip I was hoping to let them play while I started a book I am reading for the monthly book club I attend. We weren't meeting any friends this time around and it was in a town we don't frequent often so I probably would be surrounded by strangers. It was a weekday and I was hoping for a smaller crowd so I could snag one of the four umbrella tables they have between the park and the splash pad.
The plan was set and off we went. The kids were already in their swim suits, I had snacks and sunscreen packed, and so we started our adventure. The trip to the dealership to pick up the parts took about three minutes. We also stopped at the Tractor Supply Store to buy chicken feed. Then it was time for the splash pad. We arrived and I parked in the shade. I slathered them in sunscreen, we made a trip to the bathrooms (before their suits were soaking wet) and I found an empty table with an umbrella so I could sit and watch from the shade.
They ran off, with squeals of glee, into the fenced area full of water features and children. My girl just ran from one place to the next, while holding her nose closed, trying to get as wet as possible. The boy, on the other hand, still has this thing with not wanting to get his face wet so he found his favorite, non-threatening sprinkler and hunkered down for the long haul. It was a tower of purple sphere things and little water spouts shot out from every direction. His favorite thing was to climb onto it and try to plug as many holes as possible with his chest, hands, and legs. It was hilarious to watch! Of course he chose to play on the other side of the pad, furthest from me. I noticed some girls younger than him were trying to fill some buckets they had with the water he was blocking. I was probably on page two of the book I brought and we had been there for a half hour already. Watching him and the girls, he reminded me of Gus Gus from the Disney Cinderella cartoon when he was clutching his hat after a run-in with Lucifer the cat and all he did was close his eyes and say, "nope, nope, nope, nope!" when the other mice tried to tell him to move. I sent big sister in to be a distraction and take him to play somewhere else. It worked for a while but soon he was back at the same spot and I read on for a while.
Somehow I have this "mom-sense" that helps me notice only my kids' movements in a crowd and I can usually spot them pretty quickly when needed. So I glanced to see if they were still having fun and "being good." Well, B was talking with a kid while on top of this purple sprinkler thing trying to plug all the holes. Seriously, the next second, the kid lunged at him and pulled him down off the tower. He proceeded to claw my boy on his face and neck! Oh man, was Mama Bear upset! This kid kept at it and I was so proud that B only pushed him in attempts to escape and not out of anger. He actually was so surprised that this was even happening and was able to get away as I walked over to the two. Well the boy was crying now and I sternly told him, "You need to be kind!" as he ran to his mom.
I found out what happened, from B's perspective. The boy had freaked out because B was blocking the water so the boy wouldn't drink it. I had told them not to drink the water - it's treated with chlorine - so B decided he should let other kids know they shouldn't drink it either. We talked about being the boss of only ourselves and not worrying about what the other kids drink or don't, that's their job. I also praised him for not getting angry at the boy and for staying calm, because that's not usually how it goes at home in conflicts with the sister.
Out he went again, after I suggested he should probably play by a different water toy. He found J and they ran around all crazy for another half hour before it was time to dry off. As B was sitting on his towel, the same kid came up to him, with his little punk friend for backup. The boy, who was probably four years old just pushed him and when I told him not to do that and it's not okay to push other kids, they simply stood there and stuck out their tongues at B until I told them to leave and to start being kind.
In the hour we were there, I was only able to read one chapter in my book. Though I had tried to be, this time I was not the inattentive mom who wasn't paying attention to what her kids were doing to other kids. That award went to the other gal. She did not say a thing to her son about what went down and I'm not sure she even knew. Well, my little guy - who can be a bully himself. Though I've never seen him as brash as these kids. He was so hurt inside that he talked to me about it for at least ten minutes in the car on the way home. He asked me why they were so mean to him when he hadn't done anything to them. He kept saying, "Mom, they were not nice kids." We were able to talk about how Jesus loves us all the time, even when we are mean to other people. Jesus loves that boy and we should too, even though it's tough. We also talked about our family and how we don't act that way, ever, because we know Jesus. It was a good discussion for me to have with them because I wanted to tell that mom what I thought about her "parenting skills." But then I remembered that it could have been B who pummeled her kid; he often loses his temper when he doesn't get his way. So I remained calm and strangely thanked God that my kid was picked on and not the bully.
I want to be a good example to my children of how we should behave in the world because we have the love of Christ. I know there will be much more parenting at splash pads in the future and hopefully we can show the love of Christ to others around us.