The clearest sign that I have accepted the limitations of this summer is that I recently ordered a $100 “dinosaur inflatable play center.” It’s a primary-colored pool requiring an air-mattress pump and measuring roughly 8 by 6 feet. There’s a slide, a waterfall, and a dino with a wide-open mouth in which to throw balls. It’s monstrously hideous but seemed the solution to my problems—some of them, anyway. It will not address the questions currently causing the stress-crick in my neck—when my kid will get to play with another child again, whether it’ll be safe to send him back to daycare anytime soon—but it can maybe, just a little bit, solve for summer heat, toddler entertainment, and the anticipated cancelation of a much-needed vacation.
Naturally, it’s delayed in shipping.
So, the other afternoon during a heat wave in the Bay Area, I was pushed to resourcefulness out of desperation. As I clocked out of work and my husband clocked in, I said aloud to my child: “We need a large vessel for water.” I knocked around in his closet. I opened up some cupboards in the kitchen. I contemplated a trashcan, as sweat collected on my brow. Then I ventured into the garage, wherein I found a large Tupperware container meant for storage. “This is your new pool,” I explained. “We’re gonna fill this with water and you can sit in it!” He responded as any toddler would: “I wan’ do that!” I filled it up partway with hot water from the sink, lugged it outside, added some hose water. Then we collected every waterproof toy in the house and dumped it into the Tupperware. My child readily climbed in and proceeded to play, without interruption, for 30 minutes straight. He returned later that afternoon for another 30 minutes.
It was glorious, it was heaven—no “inflatable play center” required. This is useful in its own right, but also in clarifying what has always been true: The dino pool is for me.