I spent half almost an hour is hell yesterday. Who ever says there is no water in Hell has never spent any time outside at noon during monsoon season in Phoenix. It felt like I was being smothered by a huge wet, wool blanket as I stood on the playground. If I had been in possession of my phone, with the thermometer, I most likely would have moved lunch recess indoors. Without that bit of proof though, I had to assume I was being a super wimp. I regret I didn’t have any pottery that needed to be cooked with me because the concrete felt like I was in a kiln.
At one point, I was surrounded by about six fourth graders, all complaining that they were bored and hot. This isn’t a surprise, there isn’t much to do on our playground yet. In fact, we don’t have a ‘playground’ at all. What we have is a vast expanse of concrete with some hoops and a large, ant filled, grassy field. It usually isn’t as bad as it sounds. We have jump ropes, balls, chalk, and imagination to entertain the kids. It just seems that when it is close to 100 degrees with a 40 percent humidity level….imagination seems to go away. Or so I thought.
As the kids clustered under my umbrella to get shade and be sprayed by my squirt bottle, I asked them what would make the playground better. What kind of toys did they think would make it more fun. Their ideas proved to be quite inventive. The list started with things like, a new tether ball, a volleyball court, and an actual ‘playground’ and quickly moved on to items like a pool, wave pool, mini golf course, and trampoline. As coach walked by, I quickly told him of their ideas so far and he was quick to add a rock climbing wall. The rock wall suddenly grew to the top of the cafenasium roof where we would have parties, and where we would exit by way of a zip-line to the basketball hoops. For those not able to make it to the top of the rock wall, a slime pit would be conveniently placed at the bottom to cushion their fall. I was further impressed when they addressed the cooler months by requesting a hot tub. These kids are nothing if not inventive.
After my season in Hell, I had a half hour break to see if I could somehow dry a bit of the sweat I had acquired while outside. I took the opportunity to poke my head into the principals office to pass on the requests from the fourth grade. I love this principal. She agreed that if we raised enough box tops, and if those items were things we could actually buy with our box tops, she would definitely consider their requests. Until that time, she graciously handed me the school debit card and sent me to WalMart to get some more balls and playground toys.
When I walked onto the playground an hour later, fourth grade was again outside. They were overjoyed with their ‘new toys’ and spent their lunch hour running around oblivious to the now even hotter day.
I have to say, this is a great example of serendipity to me. We all have our big dreams, and goals, and we throw them out to the universe (principal, playground aide) and hope for the best. If we can keep our eyes and minds open, we just may get something else that will be just as good. I’m not saying a big red bouncy ball is as good as a pool on a hot day, but…well…it just isn’t. I’m still holding out for the pool. Cause I said so.