My children have always disliked getting wet. One of Clara’s first words was “Towel” and she would scream it repeatedly every time she got even a single drop of water on her face, eyes squeezed shut, and her mouth contorted in a horrible frown. Lydia didn’t do much better and would weep and flail her arms like a possessed octopus at even the sound of the bathtub being filled. It’s truly amazing that my delicate little sugar cookies haven’t completely dissolved by now.
So, I was a bit shocked the other day when I was out in the yard watering my lawn and turned to find that Gideon had quietly walked up behind me. I jerked the hose away, but it wasn’t in time. The little man was suddenly hit square in the face by a blast of cold water. He fell over backwards, rolled onto his belly and scrambled away.
I quickly turned off the hose and watched. He turned to face me, a silent look of stunned horror on his dripping face. And then the most unexpected thing happened. He laughed. He shook the water from his golden curls, eyes wide staring up into the blue sky, and laughed great billowing bubbles of laughter.
I tentatively turned the hose back on and slowly brought the stream of water towards him. He watched it and began to smile as it got closer and closer. Then without warning he suddenly rushed into it, impatient with my hesitation. He dove into the pillar of water, tumbled out the other side and fell giggling in a wet pile in the muddy grass.
We played this way for the rest of my time in the yard. I wandered from plant to plant while he scrambled along behind periodically grunting for my attention and pulling up his shirt to show his belly. He would rub his hand in a circle and announce “Boof! Boof!” and then cheer in triumph as I would bulls eye his belly button from 20 yards away with a jet of ice water.
I was telling Andrea about this later that evening while we were sitting in the backyard cleaning the remains of dinner off of our picnic table.
“That’s really amazing,” she said. “I guess we finally got our little boy.” She picked up a few plates and then glanced around, “Speaking of Gideon, where is he now?”
We both scanned the backyard and found him standing by the fence on the far side of our property, watching our neighbor water her flower garden. She looked up at him briefly, noticing him for the first time. He jumped with excitement. “Boof! Boof! Boof!” he chanted and lifted his shirt revealing his round pink belly. He slapped his free hand on his pudgy shelf.
“Gideon!” I called as I slowly started across the yard. “Gideon, let’s not do that, okay?” The neighbor lady shrugged her shoulders at me and scrunched her face at my newest generation of bizarre offspring, and then she returned to watering her flowers. She casually turned, pretending she wasn’t living next door to a growing circus of freaks and odd little midgets.