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“But it will rain on my birthday, it always has...it’s a rule!” wailed my younger daughter as we went over plans for her birthday party, plans that involved swimming and/or outdoor play. Well technically, the birthday had past and we had waited to celebrate till all her friends came back from vacation, so the ‘it-will-rain-on-my-birthday-rule’ was kind of not valid. But I knew better than to argue. Going by past history the rain Gods never seemed to discriminate between ‘birthday’ and ‘day-we-celebrate-the-birthday’ - it has ALWAYS rained. And therefore the need for a good back up plan.
As the morning progressed, it was clear that swimming was out of the question. Continuous rain had made the water rather turbid and the pool had been shut down. My back up plan kicked off when I encouraged the excited, high-energy bunch of 9 year old girls to take their own sweet time over lunch. But what I thought was a rather leisurely meal engineered by me, actually turned out to be a strategic working lunch. By the time I arrived with my choices of activities, they had a counter offer of their own. “Since we already have our swimsuits, we could just change into them and go out for a rain dance!”
Hardwired as I am as a mum, my first reaction was to think of all the reasons why this was not a good idea. But all I could think of was, “How perfect!” A rain dance where all the raining was already taken care of, no clothes would get wet, they could drip straight into the pool’s changing rooms which had enough cubicles to accommodate them all at one time and best of all, I would have no organising to do. I let them out with only one rule - stay within sight.
They splashed, sat in puddles, sang, danced - all kinds of moves from Indian classical to a contrived version of the waltz, giggled, posed patiently for my camera and splashed some more. Quite honestly, I enjoyed the rain dance as much as the kids did, watching from a safe and dry space under a ledge, reliving the forgotten joys of dancing in the rain - uninhibited and carefree. ‘Best birthday party ever,” exclaimed my thrilled nine year old.
There has to be some magic in water that makes you light and buoyant and I’m not just talking literally. I felt the power of a single spray of water this summer vacation too. After an exhilarating and exhausting round of a few of the most famous amusement parks in the world, we spent some peaceful days at my brother’s house. The excitement of being with cousins was of a different kind, but quite comparable to the high of the amusement parks. The plan one evening was to visit the neighbourhood splash park, but as my sister-in-law warned my children, this would be very different from the amusement parks they had just visited. When we reached the place, it was empty and there seemed to be no sign of water and the only children around were playing in the adjoining swings and play area. After a little scouting around, my sister-in-law found a button that activated the sprays. As soon as the first spray spouted out of the ground, there was a cheer all around and kids rushed in from all directions to play in the water. It couldn’t have been a simpler set up - a few fountain sprays spaced out in a small area! But the visible joy and tangible excitement of jumping on and around the sprays was anything but simple, it was spontaneous, unfettered and oh so precious.
Just a little reminder of how the best moments of growing up can be the simplest ones, fearless and with no restrictions at all. Life’s little joys can come as simple sprays of water too!