Water, Water Everywhere – Recycled Sundays

“Rain, rain, go away. Come again another day.”

How many children have chanted that song with a skipping rope, chalk, picnic basket, or baseball in hand? It’s been around for generations. Every wet weekend I suspect a few adults chant it under their breath as well with their golf clubs, paddle, gardening tools, or baseball in hand.

The second line in the rain chant is most interesting. Were the children of Mother Goose’s time more tied to the earth and in tune with the water cycle? Or did the adults insist that the children qualified their request in case the listening earth gods brought drought? I suspect, instead, the children knew a good thing when they heard it. Rain brings water. Yes children love sunny days, perhaps less now that the behavior of their elders has made it necessary for them to be smothered in sunscreen, long sleeves, and wide rimmed hats and most of them would rather dress like Tarzan and Jane. But they also love water. Instinctively. Passionately. Until a child has a frightening experience with water, he is drawn to it like Ben Johnson is to performance-enhancing chemicals. He disobeys adults and heads to the creek or the dock or the ice flows on the lake. He just can’t seem to help himself even when he knows it’s dangerous, he’ll probably be caught, and he’ll be in “really big trouble.”

Consider the following. As soon as the dreary drizzles of spring end, before the grass is even dry, the children drag out the garden hose. They hook up wading pools, Slip N’ Slides, Water Whirls, Super Soakers, and even lawn sprinklers. Most parents need double income just to pay the water bills.

Children will run through water naked or fully dressed. They mix it with soap, dirt, candy, toys and slow pets. They wet down everything and everyone in sight, including the car, the neighbor’s house, and any pedestrians below the voting age. They fill balloons and deliver them at high speed to anyone wearing dry-clean only clothes. They turn temperature-altered toys different colors by filling the sink with hot water, dipping the toy, showing everyone, and starting over. This is the Children’s First Water Cycle.

Under duress or bribery, they will enter a bathtub provided it has more plastic toys per volume than actual water. Before you know it, they reached the age where they can bathe alone. The water is then rerouted. It no longer pours from the tap into the bathtub and later down the drain. First it gushes from the faucet at the highest possible velocity to the highest possible level. Using his body for displacement, the water is partially emptied by the scenic route (over-the-top, across the floor, out the door, and through the furnace vent). Showering provides a more direct circuit when the curtain is hung outside the tub. This is the Children’s Second Water Cycle.

Also under duress, they will use water to brush their teeth. It isn’t the contact between the brush and the teeth that’s important to the child but the contact between the water and the drain. This is the Children’s Third Water Cycle.

Perhaps when children chant, “Rain, rain, go away. Come again another day.” it is more a statement of faith. By the time they are able to memorize the rhyme, they’ve seen huge quantities of water, and go, most of it by their own little hands.

Chronicle-Journal Regional Newspaper

June 6, 1993

Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages

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