The most wonderfully generous, neighborly gesture was our neighbor’s insistence that we use her family’s pool whenever we wanted. We took her up on her offer immediately and often. There isn’t a sweeter offer for parents who know all too well the oppressive and restrictive heat of Austin summers.
Water is the great heat nullifier—the one true outdoor relief from the withering sun. And water becomes the necessary element for our family’s outdoor recreation once the thermometer books it into the nineties and keeps on going. Water activities allow us to venture outside fearlessly, giving us a respite from our air-conditioned sanctuary.
Both Davis, four, and Hudson, two, cannot get enough of the water. So during the summer, we consistently utilize our across-the-street pool privileges. Davis was a pseudo-swimmer by the end of last summer. He honed his breath-holding and kicking skills by repeatedly jumping in and swimming to my wife or me or back to the steps, his eyes always wide open, refusing to wear goggles. Hudson is certain that he too can swim. Knowing otherwise, we’re constantly imploring him to wait until one of us capable of retrieving him is in the water and prepared for his carefree plunge.
For our boys, there’s only one thing that upstages time in our neighbors’ pool on a hot summer day—that’s any summer day spent on Jekyll Island, Georgia. We always make it a summer priority to visit my parents there. Every day on Jekyll, we take the boys (and this summer we’ll bring their new sister along) either to the beach or to the pool or both.
Between the water, waves, and sand, the beach is a wonderland of activity for the kiddos. We build sandcastles and mud pits; Davis “fights” the waves; they run out as if to dare the ocean to come after them and then run back as the surf chases them onto the sand. When they’ve swallowed their fill of saltwater and their nether regions are rubbed raw from swimsuits full of sand, we head back over to the pool. And at least once every Jekyll visit, we’ll branch out to the island’s not-too-large water park. There the lazy river is the activity of choice, though very soon they will be eager to take on the wave pool and the water slides.
But fun in the sun and water is by no means limited to the pool, beach, or water park. Davis and Hudson have spent many an afternoon jumping on their trampoline transformed into a self-contained water park just by the addition of a sprinkler. And I freely admit I’m not too old or too proud to join them in taking my turn on the “slip-n’-slide,” although Hudson is much more amusing to observe since he does his best slip-n’-sliding in the nude.
Of course, the great objective of any of our water activities is for our kids (and us) to enjoy being active outside even on the hottest summer afternoon. The invaluable bonus: how wonderfully exhausting just a short time in the sun and water is for our little ones.