Lessons in Water Fountains

Last month a friend of mine’s daughter came to stay with me for about ten days.  She was dropped off by her mom’s friend late on a Tuesday night.  My oldest son Gabriel was already sound asleep, and my two younger boys should’ve been in the bath and shower, but they were downstairs to greet her. 

She came in, put down her things and I made her a late dinner.  As she finished, I said to Nick and Matthew, “Boys, go upstairs and get in the shower/bath, I’ll be right up.”  And off they went.

You might think I am crazy to send my 6 and 8 year old upstairs to get themselves into the bath routine, but since we’ve been doing this routine for their ENTIRE lives, it is something they have done successfully on more occasions than I can count. 

Usually, Nick heads upstairs, to my bathroom where the shower and bathtub are next to each other, runs his shower, runs his brother’s bath, and by the time I get upstairs minutes later they are both getting naked and entering their respective bathing locations.

That’s what I expected on that evening as well.  But it’s not what I got.

As I gathered my friend’s daughter’s things, including her plate and a glass of water, I instructed her to grab her smaller suitcase and start up the stairs.  I followed her.  Once I made it 4 stairs up, I could hear water running.

….but it wasn’t coming from my bathroom.

“Move out of the way!” I commanded as I began taking the stairs 2 or 3 at a time.  I barreled upstairs and into our hallway, following the sound of running water – not the sound of a bathtub filling, but closer to the sound of a fountain – all the way to the hall bathroom.

I looked at the door, which was ajar about 3 inches and was shocked to find it was covered from top to bottom with dripping water.  Oh Em Gee.  If the outside of the door looked this bad, what on earth would the inside look like?

I pushed it open, and there in the center of the bathroom, happily dancing in about an inch of water, while being sprayed by no less than three streams of six foot high water spray coming from the faucet (which had been turned into a fountain by wedging an empty shampoo bottle into the sink and then turning the water on full blast) were my two sweet young sons buck naked.

They stared at me.

I yelled.

They looked confused.

“Oh my god you guys!! What is going on?!!”  I yelled as I covered my head and entered the water-war-zone getting sprayed from every direction.  “Turn that off!”

They just stood there, eyes wide, mouths agape.

I bum rushed the faucet and turned it off.  Once I did so I am clear that the room is not only flooded, every surface from floor to ceiling is dripping in water. 

At this point I take a closer look at my sons because for the life of me I cannot figure out why or how they thought this was a good idea.  Even if they did when it started, how could they possibly have let it continue?
I first take stock of Nick – who is my sensory avoider – and I am overwhelmed by the fact that he is just standing there, naked, facing the shower, which is also running, while putting on goggles to protect himself from the spray.  Smart to use goggles, great self-regulating, and excellent problems solving, but if he is putting on goggles – HE KNOWS THAT THE BATHROOM IS FLOODING.

Then I look carefully at Matthew – who is definitely a seeker and a huge WATER seeker at that – and see an honest look of surprise that the water fountain he has created does not impress me.  Because clearly, he is impressed with is handy work.

“Turn off the shower Nick.  And both of you go to your rooms; you’re not showering tonight, just get your pajamas on.”  I order. 

They both look bummed.

It takes me 12 towels to soak up the water, the entire time I am complaining and swearing under my breath, but thankful the lake in the bathroom didn’t penetrate into the hall carpet….too far.

Once the bathroom is dried to a level of dampness that is acceptable, I go to talk with my boys.

“Nick, what were you thinking?  Were you just going to get in the shower while the water was spraying everywhere and flooding the bathroom?!”  I shoot at him while he lays on his Star Wars sheets reading a book in his underwear.

“No, I was just about to turn it off.” He says matter of factly.

I’d like to scream at him, because his ‘just about to’ lasted at least five minutes judging by the water level on the floor, but instead I realize that my darling son has ADHD.  Why does that matter?  Simply because he probably was ‘just about to turn it off’ a dozen times during those 5 minutes and got distracted by the fact that he was supposed to be getting in the shower – so, he never did it.

I just sigh.  Give him some tips on prioritizing (for example, “Anytime a room is flooding and you’re in it, the first thing to do is turn off the water.”), being responsible, and then conclude with the fact that I’d like him to continue to read until bedtime.

Next I go to talk to Matthew.

“Matthew,” I begin, walking into his room careful to avoid the Lego land-minds that cover nearly every square inch, “What were you thinking?!  You flooded the bathroom!” 

“Oh, well, first I got an empty shampoo bottle, and I was going to fill it up, so I put it under the faucet and turned it on….” He begins with Aspergers-fueled details.  But I stop him.

“Ok, yes, I see that you had put the shampoo bottle in there, but once it started spraying the room then it was full –you have to turn the water off.”

“Ah,” Matthew responds with the same air I imagine most scientists have when they’ve discovered something new, “but why?”

And now although I want to yell at him, instead I realize he has Aspergers.  Why does that matter?  Simply because he was following his own agenda, exploring (yet another) way water works, and learning about his environment.  I realize he was observing the situation so he could intentionally gather data.

I just sigh.  Then I begin explaining about the volume of the shampoo bottle, the way the running water exceeded it, and how the pressure of the incoming water into the already full bottle was creating the spray.  We talk about other fascinating aspects of water (including the water cycle; evaporation and condensation and how the water in the bathroom wasn’t ever going to evaporate entirely and that the water from the faucet was indeed condensating on the ceiling and walls), and I tell him to continue playing Legos until bedtime.

I shut his door, and go to check on my friend’s daughter.  She is happily reading in her room un-phased. 
And I’m struck by a crazy thought:  Why am I the only one who seems to have a problem with this?!

I laugh, inside, and outside just a little, and then allow myself to let it go.  Let go of the fact that my kids aren’t typical in any way, and with that it allows me to let go of the expectation that I should be upset.

My kids are awesome.   Water fountains and all.


Jim said...

this is a great story. Love it!

Gavin Bollard said...

Great story but I'm glad it wasn't my bathroom. :-)

You might want to explain to the kids about how wood (which most bathroom cabinets are made of) will soak up water and start to rot.

I can remember my own mother telling me not to get water everywhere but it wasn't until I was married (for several years) that I found out about how it affects wood.

Amy said...

Oh, thank you! Thank you for having a life as adventurous as mine and taking it in stride!

Patty O. said...

I just love you this post so much, I can't even tell you! I love how he said, "but why?" and I so love how you accept your kids the way they are!