It’s been a stressful few days, and sometimes that gets me sort of down and hormonal. This afternoon, I took a walk down to The Mudd House, a coffee shop/cafe that had been recommended to me. (The coffee, all organic, was good, but still not of Royal-Giant excellence.) On my way back, I took a wrong turn and ended up passing a YMCA. I heard squeals and giggles of little children, a noise which irritates me (sorry). I looked to see from whence it came, and couldn’t help but grin when I saw a summer day camp in full swing. A young man sprayed a group of little kids down with a hose, turning it off and threatening to not spray them any more, shooting it up into the air to shower down, aiming for the ones hiding in the corners. The kids took turns dancing in the water, ducking out when they got too cold and in when they felt braver. Each time they felt the spray, they squealed again. Nearby, another volunteer stood with a huge armful of towels, ready to pass out when the game was over.
It reminded me of two things: One, squirting kids down myself as the assistant aquatics instructor for a Scout camp. Part of our “Polar Bear” experience involved buckets of ice and painfully cold hose spray followed by a lap in the pool. I administered this torture faithfully four mornings a week at 5:30 a.m., and the boys loved it.
Two, it reminded me of my childhood summers in Vacation Bible School. My dad was in charge of the games and activities portion of the day. I remember him assembling balloons and string, towels, newspaper, anything else that could make life interesting. And the kids — me included — loved it. (My favorite game, as I recall, involved tying a balloon to the back of everyone’s pants and then running around with rolled-up papers trying to whack other people’s balloons until they popped, while leaving your own intact.) It was so simple. Yet, as a kid, you never realized what went into planning and preparing for it. The volunteer with the neatly folded towels reminded me of that. I think, as adults, we forget how much work goes into making the simple. Sometimes we fail to appreciate things that aren’t elaborate. But the little things can be just as important, just as heartfelt and meaningful — maybe more so — than the big things. These kids didn’t need an Olympic lap pool. A hot sidewalk and a hose were all the excitement they could have wanted.