I know everyone’s tired of the heatwave we’ve had in the region this week.
For me, though, I’m kind of glad to see it linger. For the first time in months, my children are being creative.
To escape the heat, we’ve been going out in it to several different public swimming pools and lakes in the region. The children crave a dip in the pool to bring down their internal temperatures. We like that it makes the complaining about the heat go away for a little while, with the additional benefit that the physical exertion wears kids down so they’re more willing to sleep at night.
I’ve always liked public swimming pools. They’re a great equalizer, with children from different earnings levels all playing together in one pool owned by the community.
I grew up fortunate enough to have a village swimming pool a few hundred yards behind my parents’ house. It seemed like we were out there nearly every day, for a few hours each day, escaping the heat by taking a dip in the pool until that lifeguard’s whistle pulled you out for a 15-minute break.
I recall my mother having a rule that we couldn’t go to the pool if it wasn’t at least 80 degrees. I can remember calling several different time and temperature numbers — yes, kids, before the internet, you had to dial a phone to find the current time and temperature — that were local to my hometown, shopping for the answer that gave me and my siblings the number we needed to go to the pool.
That was in a time before video games, mobile devices and on-demand television watching. The only escape from our boredom was that pool at the park.
Nowadays, the on-demand culture means children don’t appear to be as creative. They’re more likely to absorb entertainment than make some of their own.
Except at the swimming pool, that is.
If you’re going to enjoy the pool, you’re going to have to leave your devices behind. Nothing is so waterproof that parents are letting a child bring it into a chlorine-filled pool or a mucky lake.
Once they’re out there, the games haven’t changed that much from those sun-soaked days of my youth more than 30 years ago.
Kids still play tag. They still race each other. They still have contests for the most impressive entrances into the pool (commonly know as belly flop contests). They still see who can hold their breath underwater the longest.
They still invent and innovate and try different things to have fun while enjoying water cooler than the outside temperatures.
My children introduced me to a game where they’d invent new animals and have their friends imitate how it might look and sound. We’ve had races to recover diving sticks after you’ve solved a math problem or a trivia question about a family member. And sure, given the times, we’ve had to play the different roles mentioned in the Baby Shark song (which now has 3.1 billion views on YouTube) once in a while.
They’re being creative and using their brains. That’s something we should all encourage, even if it means sitting through a few more 90-degree days this summer to make it happen.