ready for war

ready for war

T

oday is the first day of school. By virtue of this stark truth, yesterday was marked by the constant expression of frantic wanting.

“Can we have a water balloon fight?” all Three wanted to know.

The weather has already begun to change. The heat has broken and the days demanding to be doused by a water balloons are well and truly behind us. I suspect that my children know this, too. Gentler temperatures may be welcome, but they still signify the end of what was and the start of whatever comes next.

They filled up the balloons on the front stoop with their friend, stacking them inside a couple of plastic buckets and a watering can they found with a broken handle. Teams were assigned and the two pairs of opponents squared off over the low wall separating the neighbor’s yard from ours. The water balloons were distributed—by some later, loud accounts, entirely unfairly—and then war broke out.

There was screaming; it turns out that water balloons that don’t explode on impact sting like the dickens. Everyone was wet and wrapped in towels by the end. Colorful rubber shards stuck to the concrete at their feet as they aired their grievances about the unseemly way their opponents had gone about securing victory.

Wet and disgruntled to a man, their water balloon fight had nonetheless served its real purpose: to distract them from the sand shifting under their feet. Tomorrow, there would be less of all of this—less water balloons, certainly, but all less self-determination, less improvisation and, as they returned to their respective schools, less of each other.

Sometimes I’m alone in feeling that twist in my stomach when the familiar things, the well-worn patterns and comfortable routines I’ve come to trust in, begin passing away. Watching The Three and their friend as they threw water balloons at each other, I knew I was in good company.