Sunday, September 7, 2008

Water Guns and Me

I have a long history with water guns. Before I had kids they were just "Harmless Plastic Items That Shoot Water." (maybe add in a "Cheap" somewhere there)

Once I had kids my opinion changed ever-so-slightly. Water guns became "Evil Weapons of Warfare Designed To Blind My Precious Son." I morphed practically overnight into one of those mothers who did not allow anyone to give her child gun-like objects. Never mind that Max could turn a gummy worm into a 'shooter gunner' (as he called them), I would not buy into that war mentality. I would keep his fragile and tender imagination untainted and pure.

(Sheila coughs a bit self-consciously but soldiers battles forges moves on)

When Max turned 4 I retooled that, err, opinion to something more along the lines of "Cheap Crap My Kid Loves." I drew the line at cap guns (the blasts always woke up the newborn FDPG), but he soon amassed a large collection of click guns, water guns, and curiously shaped sticks. Not to mention the odd gummy worm gun. All sizes and shapes, right?

And now, what with three wild and rambunctious kids and one large yard, I have decided that water guns fall into the "Giant Hole of Plastic Junk In Which I Might As Well Throw Way Too Much Money." Impartial of me, I know.

But today I had one of my least memorable and most irritating days ever, thanks to what will henceforth be known as "That Stupid Plastic Piece of #&$*" "The Item That Mum Will No Longer Purchase. Ever. Again."

It started with a birthday party invitation. Included all three kids. Hurray. So far so good. We made some cards. I glued a lot of candy to mine, knowing that it would help the Wallace and Gromit picture stand out better.

We bought a present. We searched frantically for some wrapping paper that didn't have Christmas pictures wrapped it. I added a bit more candy to hide the fact that we'd run out of tape and had to use the hot glue gun for good measure.

Now comes the bit that nearly did me in fun bit. Part of the invite was for a laser tag event. Max went to this, but FDPG and Dominic did not, because a) I didn't think FDPG could handle the dark, stuffy world that is a laser tag venue, and b) if I'd let Dominic go FDPG might never have spoken to me again. There were a few tears on FDPG's part, but she rallied on hearing that the other part of the invite was a Water War/Pizza/Cake Extravaganza at the birthday boy's house afterwards. Phew. Near Tragedy averted. So out we went to buy water guns, because ours were so crappily built they'd all broken. Our yard was a litter of triggers, containers, and plastic handles. We started with a couple of Dollar Stores. Then we went to a couple of toy stores, including that gigantic monolith we all know and recognize from its grammatically bungled name. We even went to some stores that sell camping and home fixing stuff. All to no avail. Not a single water gun was to be had. The Greenridge kids were nervous. What is a Water War without a water gun? But then, lo and behold, at another gigantic monolith, we found some! Water guns! Motorized water guns! Cheap motorized water guns! Cheap plastic motorized water guns! I was almost ecstatic at their cheapness, I might even have swooned, but really, I should have known better. Yes, Gentle Reader, you might want to avert your eyes here, because this is where the story deteriorates. We bought those pieces of cheap plastic crap water guns, returned home, and I placed them tenderly in a corner of the dining room, awaiting their Moment of Glory.

Fast forward 3 days.

This morning I wrestled with the plastic packaging that encased those cheap plastic motorized water guns, inserted the 3 AA batteries they required, then wrestled intellectually with the horribly verbose instructions inside the package...instructions which went like this:

1. Do not use rechargable batteries. (WHAT? ACK! That's exactly what I was going to do! Now I have to go BUY batteries?)
2. Do not mix old and new batteries. (gotcha)
3. Do not use nearby electrical apparatus. (huh? what does that mean?)
4. The supply terminals are not to be short-circuited. (huh?)
5. Non-rechargable batteries are not to be charged. (Come on, even I knew that)
6. Always remove dead batteries from the product. (no kidding Sherlock)
7. Do not dispose of the battery in fire, it may explode. (uh, okaaaaay)
8. The package should be kept since it contains important information (what, you mean that impregnable piece of sheetmetal I had to saw open?)
9. Only batteries of the same type as recommended are to be used. (uh, haven't we already gone through this?)
10. The toy must be fully assembled in accordance with the instructions before operating with water. (huh? I have to do MORE than take it out of the package?)
11. Do not mix alkaline, standard, or rechargable batteries. (if you talk about the bloody batteries one more time I might scream)
12. Be sure to insert the batteries correctly and always follow the toy and battery manufacturer's instructions. (Sheila jumps off a cliff at this point, screaming all the while)

So, I got the batteries into each water gun, filled them up with water, and gave the twins one and me one (Max was already at the laser tag event) and out into the Great Outdoors we strolled, armed and ready for action.

We stopped on the lawn, a few feet from each other.

We grinned.

We laughed.

We brandished.

We posed.

We cocked.

We pressed triggers.

And nothing happened.

The motor (thanks to all those endless battery instructions) was whirring. But no water was coming out. We continued to press hopefully, me thinking that there might be a pump needing priming somewhere. We did not, repeat, did not mix old and new batteries. We were not near any nearby electrical apparatus. So into the house I went, to peer and poke and prod.

And still they didn't work.

We were now 45 minutes before the Water War Pizza and Cake Extravaganza. I looked at the twins, at their hopeful little faces, now looking considerably more worried than before, and leaped off into yet another a Huge and Rather Stupid Parental Morass.

"Quick! Into the car! Let's go look for more pieces of stupid cheap plastic!" I cried.

And that's how I found myself in a drugstore, 30 minutes before we had to be at a party, buying 3 water guns from a 50% off rack. But not before I'd already bought some spray bottles as a Back Up Plan from another store. Found the water guns, returned the spray bottles, and raced home. Filled the water guns with water - and one was cracked and leaking. At this point I think I might have cried a little. Enter Richard.

"How about I duct tape it?" he offered helpfully, distinctly uneasy at the rapid emotional downspiral his wife appeared to be on.

"Argh!" I shrieked, "NO! I am going to return this piece of sh&*! I am not paying for something that I have to duct tape!" I might have hurled it across the room at this point, but it's all a blur to me. And I think Richard might have packed it up so my eyes wouldn't have to view it ever again. And I think we then went off with the two remaining water guns, which thankfully worked fine.

And when we got to the party the twins leapt into the pool with all their clothes on and concentrated on their swimming techniques, water guns forgotten.

There might have been some gin and tonics in there somewhere, but it's all a blur.

And thus endeth the Saga of the Water Gun.

(twangey cow poke music takes us away)


Nicola said...

Ah Sheila, I love the way you describe things. I didn't even know you could buy battery-operated water guns. However considering your experience of them, I don't think I will ever be buying any!

Samantha said...

Richard is quite the Red-Green inspired hero! I envision him wearing a kilt during this particular rescue ;-)

sheila said...

Nicola, you must NEVER buy one of these things. They are just too irritating. In fact, I am fed up with the whole idea of water guns. My kids, however, are enchanted with the idea that they finally got me to spring for some. I told them that from now on it will be on their dime.

Samantha, Richard is a bit of a Panic Hero. Women are a worryingly foreign species to him.
He'd certainly wear a kilt though!

Sandylein said...

What a dramatic story there my friend! Got us laughing and crying at the same time.
Hugs from Sandy and Leila
*Leila gives you super powered squishy non-leaking non-battery powered happy hug with no water at all.*

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