As I sat sipping my coffee Saturday morning on my back porch, I stared at our milky pool. Friday night was our annual end-of-year pool party, and we had anywhere from two to 15 kids in there between 5 and 11:00pm. It was a hot night and the kids refused to leave the water. I think they got out to eat burgers and dogs, but I was preoccupied with serving the adults, so I can’t be sure.
I know they ate their ice cream cones in the pool because I took a picture. When I handed over the tray of drumsticks, I didn’t specifically tell the 12 year old, “only give these to kids who are out of the pool.” I assumed it would happen. But the next thing I knew, 15 kids were hanging off the side of the pool – talking, laughing, and eating ice cream. For a split second, I thought of intervening, but then I remembered our old cleaning lady’s favorite expression, always said loudly, with an exaggerated shrug of the shoulders, and hands in mid-air: ‘What you gonna do?’
Nothing makes me happier than a pool full of kids. But a pool full of kids eating ice cream? Tough call. Maintain a clear pool – and have some rules! – or let kids enjoy the moment and deal with the consequences? As you can guess, I acquiesced. I always think of Barbara Coloroso’s three considerations – don’t intervene if “it’s not morally threatening, it’s not unhealthy or life threatening.” I believe that sometimes you have to let kids be kids. Besides, it is one night per year, and Kevin is pretty skilled at playing chemist. He can clear the water by Monday (most years anyway).
The next day our friend Mary left a voicemail, thanking us for the party. She said that her four year old declared that his favorite part was, “walking across Niagara Falls with Jacob!” That needed an explanation. We have a rope between the shallow and deep ends of the pool that we sometimes use when there are going to be little ones in the pool. As any thinking person would know, this is not meant for walking. But my son thought this would be a fun game. Again, should I be upset about this? I love to see young and old playing together, and there’s nothing like a pool for that. Just imagine: a teenager helping a four year old, balancing on a rope and trying not to “fall in the Falls.” Jacob told me that he was calling him Nik Wallenda. How can you get mad about that?
My hope is that you have a few of your own moments this summer… when your rational side that wants to control the situation loses and the fun continues….when the rules slide… and when you let kids be kids.
Here’s to those summer moments…