A while back, I wrote about a well in Chicago. Families come from all over the city to pump well water into various containers and lug it home. While the Adult (aka my son) and I used to frequent the well a lot to people-watch, we hadn’t been in some time. This past Sunday, I was in need of some quality time with the Adult. Over the course of the last month, he was vacationing in Barcelona for 10 days. Then after he returned home, he headed off to Cleveland for a week-long weekend to help a buddy move. Grabbing my turn, I suggested a Starbucks and some well-watching. Don’t judge. The well is far more entertaining than one might image. Located in a forest preserve, it is often frequented by a herd of deer.
The Adult agreed to my plan, and soon we were sitting in the well parking lot, sipping our Mint Mocha Frapachinos. Despite being a busy well day, we had a front-row parking spot. We visited and commented as we watched the well dwellers (as we call them) line up to fill containers of water. But when a dad and his young son approached the well, things became more interesting.
The boy was hauling a water bottle that was almost as big as he was, and his dad carried two more bottles of equal size. Once they reached the pump, the boy put down his water jug, primed the pump, and went to work. It was a hard slog, but he kept on pumping. We cheered him on from the car. His dad sat on a nearby bench, drinking coffee and reading the paper. His primary job was to replace the filled water bottles with the next empty ones. Every once in a while, the kid took a break, allowing other people to fill their bottles. While watching this process, my Adult turned into his grandparents right in front of me.
“Mom, this dad has the right idea, but I could take it to a whole other level.”
I have no idea what he is talking about.
“Well. Here’s how I would do it. When my kids are little, I would tell them that our house doesn’t have running water. Their mother and I felt that the water subscription price was too high. After all, we could have well water that gave us super powers for free. Super powers! Well water, I would explain, helps you run and jump higher and grow taller with strong bones! And this is why we need to pump our water from the well on Sunday’s. Their Mom would love the idea because she would have some free weekend time while we were at the well. And later she would be so grateful that we would have some grown-up time!
On Sunday mornings, I would turn the house water off around noon, and then I would announce to my kids that it was time to head over to the well and pump water for the following week. First, I would have them gather all the water bottles, hiding a few to make it more interesting. Before we leave, I would take something to read, and on the way to the well, I would stop for some coffee.
Once at the well, I would sit in the car with my coffee and paper while the kids pump the water and carry it back to the car. I would remind them to let people move ahead of them if a line starts to form. This would teach them to be courteous, as well as draw the well visit out a little longer. On the way home, we would stop and celebrate with ice cream. Later in life, when they retold the story, I would remind them about the ice cream.
After arriving home, it would be time to add the water to the catch basin in the basement. I would call it the water reservoir. While they were filling the water reservoir, I would turn the water back on. A few bottles would go in the fridge to provide extra super power; they could slug some before a big test or sporting event.
Mom, my kids would never feel bored on Sunday! And my wife and I would never have to go to Chucky Cheese or some other miserable kids’ place.”
By the time the Adult had finished laying out his plan, I was doubled over with laughter. And I had no doubt, that his grandparents were a major influencer in his life. Have I told you the story of the Adult, his grandparents and the search for the chicken? No? Well, another time. And then there was the time, his grandmother insisted I take pictures of a blizzard in Chicago, and send them to her. She wanted to send them to her Grandson to “prove Albuquerque had BIG SNOW.” Ten flakes had fallen, or the time my sweet Mom “trail mixed me?” Both parents, encouraged my visiting cousins to wear slickers and to carry umbrellas to a Houston baseball game. It was raining and the girls worried that they would get wet at the game. It was a gotcha moment when the girls walked into the Houston Astrodome! Yep, the Adult inherited his grandparents delightful devious gene!
As my sweet mama always says, why have kids if you can’t torture them? My only regret is not knowing about the well when the Adult was a dumb little kid.
Odd Loves Company,
Side Note: *When I started Odd, I referred to my son, Cole, as the Kid, as he aged he became the Teen, the Millennial when he turned 20, and the Adult when he turned 21 last March. I don’t mind using his name, I’m just fond of titles.