One summer that feels like both yesterday and a lifetime ago, when Hunter was about three years old, I splurged and bought a large inflatable wading pool. It was grand! Double layers of inflatable plastic, two giant aquamarine donuts stacked on top of each other so that the water could be two feet deep! At 10 feet in diameter, I considered it a preschool equivalent of an Olympic size pool! I just knew he and Andrew were going to love it! Poor Andrew, being six and half years older than his little brother, has often been caught up in my delusions of age-appropriate activities. It often works out somewhere in the middle. So when Hunter was three and Andrew was nine, I pretty much functioned as though I had two 6 year olds. Pros and cons to that approach.
In this particular case, I believe Andrew was a bit under-whelmed by the grand purchase. So I worked on building Hunter’s excitement. While my mom was outside with the foot pump (best grandma award!) trying to inflate the beauty, I was inside boiling many pots of water. In Washington it is a rare day that gets hot enough to warm two feet of water from the hose. You have to add some hose water, then some boiling water, hose water, boiling water, stir three times, check with your elbow, then your toe…then you are good to go. The boys, with swim trunks on, plastic dinosaurs and power rangers ready, were watching Grandma Georgie out the back window.
“When wiw it be ready?” asked Hunter. That’s not a typo, he couldn’t say the letter ‘l’, it came out like ‘w’. And a ‘th’ was an ‘s’ or ‘d’. Remember that so you can follow our dialogue from here. “It takes a while sweetie, gramma needs to blow it up and it’s a big pool”. Phshhhshhh, phshhhshhh, the steady sound of Grandma G on the foot pump came through the open window. Andrew wandered off, but Hunter stayed to watch. “Why did we have to get a new poow?” he asked. “Oh, because this one is sooo much bigger, you are going to have lots of fun,” I answered. “But I just want to use da udder poow,” replied a slightly higher pitched voice. I thought he was just being impatient. Hunter was never, and still is not, a person that cares to wait on things. “Hunter, you just have to wait a little bit longer until gramma is done blowing it up! Let’s go out and see how she’s doing,” I suggested. Phshhhhshhh, phshhhshhh. He followed me slowly toward the slider door and stopped just inside. I turned to see those big, blue, serious eyes in that little face welling up with tears. I dropped down to my knee, “Honey, what’s the matter?” “Weww (well),” he said. He dropped his towel and put both hands up in a questioning gesture. “Weww, is it gonna espwode or somesing?!” His little shoulders hunched, a tear rolled down a cheek.
Remember- both boys were about six years old in my activity planning. One of our latest fun finds had been the old Godzilla movies. You know, the dubbed English ones from my childhood. Mothra, Ghidra, Megalon and more. This little three year old had seen them all. Lots of things ‘blowing up’ and exploding thanks to Godzilla and friends! The poor baby. I'm sure he thought grandma and I had lost our minds!
Weww… we recovered that day. A big hug, some muffled laughter, a lengthy explanation of ‘inflatable’, many apologies and careful introduction of the new pool, it all worked out. I do think he may have looked at Grandma Georgie a little differently after that day. But that may have worked in her favor as he grew into a teenager.