The Great Neighborhood Water Fight

by Kim on August 25, 2010

They say Ohio is a great place to raise corn, pigs, and children. I absolutely loved the way that I grew up. The neighborhood was our playground, and the plethora of neighbor kids – who ALL owned bicycles – were our playmates. We didn’t take Family Vacations during our summer breaks, but every summer day was filled with adventure. We didn’t need money to have a good time, just a little ingenuity.

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The Battle Field

One year, when I was 12, my girlfriend Deb and I – with my sisters – summoned all the neighborhood kids to my house to announce that were having a neighborhood water fight. The teams were chosen and the battle date set. We had 24 hours to plan our major attacks on the enemy. After a bit of scheming, we figured that 2 coolers filled with water balloons, the largest squirt guns we could find  (Super Soakers hadn’t been invented yet), and water hoses would be our arsenal. We really wanted to beat the other team, because my sister AND Eddie Fisher were on it and Eddie always gave us trouble. My sister and I fought most of the time, so it seemed natural that she be on the opposing team.

The secret weapon to winning the water fight, was the placement  and strategy of our water hoses. You see, all war is based on deception. We had one hose bib that didn’t work and a hose that have several holes in it. We connected the impaired hose to the malfunctioning water hose bib and make THAT water hose very visible to the enemy. Then we connected several good hoses to the hose bib that was around the corner of the house and hid the hoses behind the bushes. We figured we had 200 feet of distance with that piece of hose and the nozzle on it worked quite well to send quantities of water in the direction of our enemies.

It took all night to fill the water balloons and carefully place them in the coolers for safe keeping. Our team met late into the night to plan our first, second and third lines of attack. The war was going to be won with the element of surprise. After launching all of our water balloons and getting the other team to think that we were on the verge of defeat, my friend Deb was to run to the hidden hose bib and turn it on. I was to man the connected nozzle and drench the enemy.

We could hardly sleep the night before. It was going to be much fun to win the bragging rights of being the neighborhood champs. We could just see the defeated look on my sister’s and Eddie Fisher’s faces. It was going to be great. I also had gathered intelligence that the other team hadn’t planned anything at all. They were only coming armed with squirt guns.

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An Overview

The next morning around 10am, the neighborhood kids arrived on their bicycles, bathing-suited up, for the Great Neighborhood Water Fight. It didn’t take long for the trash talk to start. Our team was smug, confident, and prepared for battle. The rules for the battle were simple. We stretched a piece of rope across the side yard to separate the starting territories for each team. After the water fight started, there was no safe territory at all. When one team wanted to surrender, they would run to the center of the yard, grab the white flag and wave it to the other team. At the blow of the whistle for the start of the war, we all kicked our sandals off, and warfare ensued.

Well – the Great Neighborhood Water Fight didn’t turn out as we planned. First off, our water balloons didn’t break when we threw them. They merely landed at our enemies’ feet. The balloons were supposed to explode on contact and soak the enemy. Instead, we supplied the water balloons to our enemy, much like the time-delayed hand grenade. They were using our weapons against us! We eventually learned to throw them at their feet and they would break on ground impact to soak the enemy. Then to make matters worse, the other team stole our coolers filled with the remaining water balloons. We lost round one.

They ran to get the water hose that was visible from the battle field. But as we planned, they couldn’t get it to work. When they were trying to figure it out, it was time for us to pull out the big guns. On our prepared signal, Deb ran to the hose bib and turned the knob to open the flow of water. Ha! We had them. There was no escaping the torrential pelting from the hidden hose. Then my sister – from the other team – grabbed the hose and kinked  it to stop the flow of water. They continued to pelt us with their only prepared weapon – their squirt guns. Even though we had carefully prepared, it appeared that it wasn’t enough to win. We ran to the white flag and slowly waved it in the air. It was difficult for us to do, but we conceded defeat.

They say it doesn’t matter whether you win or  lose, it’s how to play the game. Losing the Great Neighborhood Water Fight was heartbreaking – we were razzed about it for the rest of the summer. But losing our sense of play would have been the greater tragedy. As I think back now about how we played hide and seek, had our summertime sleep-overs in the tent, arranged kickball tournaments, slurped on Kool-aid popsicles, and chased fireflies at night, we gained much more than we lost. When I was a child, play was the celebration of what is possible.

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