Do you own a toddler? Know one? (Hint: if you own one, you know one.)
Toddlers are whacked. Like, straight crazy people that are very small and oddly powerful, and cuter than you even know how to handle. They will fill your every cell with purpose, and they will also make you regret being alive. It’s just what they do. They do like they do, all day long, until they fall asleep. Then you stare at them while you caress their fine hair and think about how much you love them. Then they wake up and you forget why you do.
Anyway. They’re whacked. They want $50 toys in the store, but at home, they only have heart eyes for the empty toilet paper roll. They want to dress themselves, but have dangerous definitions of what appropriate clothing is. They’re whacked. And it’s — kind of — wonderful.
Here’s the thing about toddlers. They actually perceive the world differently than you do. They have toddler vision. Where you see a street, they see a death-defying obstacle course that they are itching to try out. And where you see a fountain, they see a motherbleeping personal waterpark. They see all of their dreams for wreaking havoc, making messes, feeling refreshed, and pissing people off all coming together under one umbrella, if you will.
Fountains aren’t even for kids. Fountains are for naked angels and city architects and Instagrammers. They are there to beautify our otherwise messy and chaotic existence in shared spaces. They are there to spurt up into the air in triumph, not for kids to sift the grime out of their cargo shorts or to use as a jubilant toilet. AND YET.
Has there ever been a better and more child-friendly space in our demented world that lets bulldogs into bars but asks that you politely keep your children out of circulation until they can appreciate an artisanal serve of bone marrow served in a femur on a wooden plank? There has not. Fountains are a joy, a gift from city planners who let us down in so many other ways. The water spouts up — the sky is the limit! — and then plonks back down into the murky green. There are coins in the bottom of the fountain; wishes upon wishes upon wishes.
Wringing out the tiny tank tops and sopping baseball hats is a bit of a chore, but this summer, as your children desecrate the J.C. Nichols Memorial Fountain in Kansas City's environs with their squeals and rubber-sandaled stomping, take comfort in the fact that you don’t need to pay a waterpark entrance fee for your kid to have a fantastic time. Let your little person climb on into the fountain, and let them go to town.
Let them spit water, throw water, and cup water into their small hands. Let them soak you. Let them soak the dog. Because one day, their bodies and minds will be too big to allow something so small to be so grand.