Lori Borgman: Leveling the playing field between youth and age

We are enjoying the aftermath of an all-grandkid weekend: fatigue, muscle cramps and a blue bucket filled with cicada shells by the back door. We will rebound shortly. Thanksgiving sounds about right.

The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak — especially when you are outnumbered 11 to two.

Our strategy is to wear them out before they wear us out. In intense heat, this means water, an inflatable pool, hoses, sprinkler heads, water blasters, water balloons, races and relays, whatever it takes.

There’s nothing like blistering sunshine and high humidity to level the playing field between youth and age.

Step 1 is to borrow our daughter’s three-tiered inflatable pool because our pool has been trashed. She crams the pool in the back of their vehicle and hauls it to our house, where we drag it out of her vehicle, lug it through the garage into the backyard, unfold the monstrosity, then call for a search party to locate the electric pump.

The pump is in the driveway filling basketballs. Thump-thump. Thump-thump. Thump-thump. The neighbors love our get-togethers.

Meanwhile in the backyard, kids are filling water balloons. It is going as planned; they are all expending energy.

Little ones howl that they don’t have any water balloons because the bigger kids are hogging the hose.

Older ones, now armed with water balloons the size of watermelons, target beloved cousins as well as grandparents.

Balloons burst spraying dime-size metallic discs into the air like Roman candles on the Fourth of July. It is raining metallic confetti. The entire yard sparkles. We have a backyard with bling. I wonder if they can see this from the Space Station.

It shouldn’t be long before the starlings and red-tailed hawks arrive.

Silly me. I put out a call for balloons and someone sent confetti balloons. I will absolutely return the favor.

Water balloons spiral out of control at the same time someone asks for bug spray, another yells she didn’t get sunscreen, another needs bandages and someone else wants me to look at a red welt on her shoulder from a water balloon.

“It’s not bad,” I say. “I’ll dig that confetti out later.”

We begin a game where kids divide onto teams and compete to pick up the most marbles with their toes from a large tub of water. This buys us four, maybe five, minutes — enough time to resume normal breathing.

Water balloons commence again. Someone in the pool yells that someone deliberately splashed them. Two starlings and a hawk position themselves in a maple tree eyeing the yard and perhaps some of the smaller children.

Somebody tugs on my shirt and asks, “When’s lunch?”

They’re gaining on us. We pull out the big guns: the frozen T-shirt contest.

You drench an adult T-shirt in two cups of water, fold it into a square, place it in a plastic bag and freeze it for 48 hours. Each team must unfold the frozen T-shirt and put it on a team member.

They are expending incredible amounts of energy. Look at them struggle! They’re pulling, straining and clawing at the frozen shirts. We’re gaining on them now!

Why, yes, I would enjoy a refreshing glass of iced tea while sitting in the shade.

It was a good day and an exhausting day.

They say I nodded off 10 minutes into the movie after dinner.

Lori Borgman is a columnist, author and speaker. Reach her at [email protected].