The heat was pressing in heavily through the windows, unusual for May in Ohio. Liam and I ran errands all morning, stepping in and out of the soft cool of the air-conditioned car into the hazy warmth of parking lots. When we made it home, I rushed him through lunch and up the stairs for his nap.
“But Mommy, I want to play with my water table,” he whined.
“I know. I know. Later, honey,” I assured him, thinking of the tasks I needed to complete while he slept.
One long nap later, bless him, he awoke. Still fuzzy with sleep, his first words when I entered his room were: “Mommy, I want to play with my water table.”
By then, the sun was hiding, although its warmth was still radiating. Out of excuses, I obligingly helped him dress into his swim shirt and shorts, squeezing his little feet into his brand new, bright blue swim shoes. Down the stairs and out the door – me walking, him trotting – and out into the oppressively hot back yard. A curtain of gray clouds hung above as I opened the garage to get his water toys, unraveled the hose, and spent 10 minutes spraying water into the water table while Liam danced giddily around me.
Job done, Liam began pouring cups of water over piggy and froggy while I dragged a chair out and began to read my magazine. Half a paragraph later: Plop. Plop. Plop. Water dropped onto my open page. A spigot in the sky turned and rain beat its way down through our trees.
“C’mon, Liam! It’s raining!” I yelled. “Into the house!”
Confused, he followed me as I ran for our front porch. Under its shelter, we watched as rain gushed down onto our yard and driveway. “Mommy, I want to play with my water table,” he whined.
I sighed. Sometimes you just can’t win. I looked out at the rain and looked at Liam, little and hopeful, standing in front of me in his swim suit. Sorry, kid.
“Liam? Go ahead. Get out there!” I said, gesturing at the driveway. “It’s just a bit of rain. You’re dressed for it. Think of it like a giant splash pad.”
He looked at me oddly, then tentatively walked down two of the porch steps. He looked back at me again, his head cocked as if he was waiting for me to reveal the joke. “Go on,” I said, smiling encouragingly. “It’s okay. Really.”
One more step, and he was in the rain. Another step and he was jumping. Then running, the rain dripping merrily down his nose. As if on cue, the sun returned, although the rain continued. Back and forth, back and forth, Liam ran, shrieking.
Our neighbor appeared on his porch and Liam ran over to say, “I’m playing in the rain!”
Our neighbor nodded and laughed, prompting Liam to run up his stairs. The two of them inspected his flower pots for a couple minutes before Liam waved farewell and jumped back into the downpour.
I stayed dry — adult that I am — ready with a towel and a cuddle when Liam finally tired of God’s sprinkler. He let me hug him for a couple of minutes, both of us breathing in the sweet summer smell of warm earth and rain. I gave him a squeeze. He turned, looked into my eyes, and said:
“Mommy, I want to play with my water table!”