The Polite Goggles

The summer heat beat down on the grasslands, the ranches and the river flowing nearby with a kind of fierce energy, determined to show us both how hot and long it can go on, on the summer solstice. We were out on a camping trip, and I cannot imagine how it would have been had we been pitching up tents and hitching it in the heat. As it turns out, we went in for cabins with full blast A/c and bunk beds that provided hours of entertainment to the bendy amongst us. The children want to climb something. If trees are not available in the searing heat, the bunk beds were just fine too.

Reminds me of this cartoon I saw at


The campsite was near a river and the thought of flowing fresh water nearby is always a calming influence.

Camp River

We played by the river for some time.


Then someone suggested that we beat it to the swimming pool instead. So, we did. I had brought along a pair of pink and blue goggles and the children were remarkably well-behaved around them.  When I had the extra one in my hand, one child asked me politely whether they could please use it, “By all means!” said I beaming. A few minutes later, another mermaid swam up to me and said, “Could I have the pink ones please?”

I beamed again and gave the pink one. This is when things started getting complicated. The mergirls and merboys were having a go in the swimming pool and every now and then, one of the merfolk would splash up to me and ask, “Aunty, can I use the pink goggles?” I’d say ‘Of course’ and go on chatting with my friends. A few minutes later, another merchild would ask “May I use the blue goggles please?” and I’d nod my consent to that too, little realizing what my little assents were causing inside the pool. It turns out that there was a fierce war raging around the goggles. One group wanted to use them and the other did not. The game had me fogged when the details emerged. So, every time somebody came up to me and asked me whether they could use the goggles and I said ‘Yes’, the folks went to the opposing lot and said that I had allowed them to use the goggles and the rightful owner of the treasure was their team. Then, another one would come up to me and I would nod again and the drama would start all over again.

When did I catch on, you ask. Well, to tell you the truth, my school teacher parents would have detected the war a mile away, but I was so intent on chatting with my good friends  and it had been such a long time since I spent a summer teaching children, that it took a large-scale splash party in the pool to make me stop and think. What helped was that two folk were swimming up to me in great speed clearly trying to get to me first. The moment I had nodded my assent to one, child 1 whipped up a victory splash and whooped in joy. I saw the crest fallen Child 2 and only then realized what was going on.

This poster should have come to my mind a little earlier, but it didn’t.

Camp girls

Well, if anything, despite their struggles to get all the goggles to their own teams, they had been exceedingly polite and had maintained the quorum of splash-envy, and so deserved a goggle each whether they wanted it or not.

The waters don’t always show the currents and depth, do they?

Pictures: Courtesy one of our friends

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