Like many little boys, Michael loves to play in dirt. We live in a town home, and the dirt that Michael plays in is really the mulch spread through the landscaping. It’s one thing when Michael plays in our mulch, but he seems to find everyone else’s mulch to be much more interesting than ours. I end up chasing a filthy toddler from yard to yard. Not my idea of a fun evening.
We decided to buy him a sand and water table for his second birthday. My goal was to keep him out of our neighbor’s landscaping and allow me to actually sit down for a few minutes while he plays.
We bought the table at Toys ‘R Us and shoved the massive thing into the trunk of my Accord. It was much larger than I expected. At home, I examined the picture on the front of the box. It shows two neat, dry children playing with the table. The sand was nice and dry, and the water was nice and clean. Both children seemed to be completely absorbed in playing with the little boats that come with the table. I was picturing a relaxing scene in my head that included Michael playing contently by himself while I sipped a Diet Coke and read.
That dream lasted for about 2 seconds after we set the table up. There is no clean water and dry sand. There is sandy water and wet sand. I was not relaxing with a book and a drink. I was dodging splashes and building mini sandcastles. After reevaluating the situation, I’ve lowered my expectations. Now, I only have two rules. The sand and water must stay on the table and Michael must stay off the table. That’s all I ask…and I don’t always get that.
While I’ve learned that a sand and water table is messy and requires more monitoring than I was hoping for, I must confess that it’s a wonderful activity for Michael. He will play with it for hours. And, in the end, it did achieve our goals. It keeps Michael out of the neighbor’s mulch, and I do get to sit down while we are playing in it. That’s good enough for me.