So we had a lingering gift certificate from K's birthday in April, and this week we trekked out to Toys R Us to pick out our loot. We bought this great water table, which I had first seen at a friend's daughter's birthday party. K was attracted to it like moth to flame, so I figured it would be a good investment for the sticky DC summer.
I was surprised by how right I was! The first day we tried it out (another almost 90 degree day), I hauled out some lawn chairs and plopped the table in our front yard under the shade of a tree. We spent 45 WHOLE MINUTES outside with no major accidents, meltdowns, or corralling. It was nearly perfect. (Of course, you as the parent have to accept the fact that your child will become mercilessly, sopping wet.)
At one point I marveled that I could've actually gotten through an entire US Weekly (which, conveniently, only requires about 50% concentration so you can devote the remaining 50% to keeping an eye on your kid).
Minus a junky magazine, alas, I sat and observed exactly how he amused himself for that 45 minute stretch.
Here's a (roughly) 10-minute excerpt:
Picking up the plastic sailboat and running it along the ledge of the table ("ca, ca, ca"!) - 1 minute
Dropping plastic sailboat after overzealous efforts to run it along ledge; toppling over onto his belly on the ground (cranial knockout-near miss with table leg) - 3 seconds
Shimmying under the table to pick up the plastic sailboat - 30 seconds
Trying to backwards-shimmy out from under the table with sailboat in hand - 30 seconds
Discovering grass stuck to his legs after all that shimmying - 30 seconds
Taking the blades of grass off, one by one, and throwing them into the water - 1 minute
Noticing our car parked in the driveway, 15 feet away - 5 seconds
Setting off toward the car ("ca, ca, ca!") and aiming straight for the tires, which he loves to touch (resulting in greasy black hands) - 25 seconds
Swooped up by Mom 2 seconds before touching the greasiest part of a tire - 5 seconds
Fake protest crying, followed by repeat effort to head for the car - 20 seconds
Second swoop by Mom, who distracts him by pointing to the airplane up in the sky (Thank you, Reagan National!) - 5 seconds
Standing on the lawn looking up at the plane - 3 seconds
Noticing a piece of litter in our yard - 2 seconds
Walking over to examine it - 10 seconds
Picking it up and putting in mouth (Mom caught daydreaming) - 3 seconds
Third intervention from Mom, with minimal protest crying (yay!) - 5 seconds
Another distracting effort by Mom ("Let's see if we can scoop the water out of the pool and pour it on the grass!") - 30 seconds (for full demonstration)
Repeated scooping and pouring onto the lawn - 3 whole minutes!!!
Noticing the car in the driveway again - 5 seconds
Repeat steps 7 thru 10, above.