Yesterday I got a strange text from the mother of the little boy I’m looking after. It said that after school we have to go to the Plaza de John Lennon and that he has a water gun in his school bag together with spare clothes, it’s ok if he gets wet. I was extremely curious about what was going to happen.
I went to pick up Lluc (it’s Catalan for Luke, I think) after school. As soon as he saw me he jumped up and flew to my arms…not, he raced past me, grabbed his water pistol and announced that we’re going to the John Lennon Square. (Well, I THINK he said that, he always speaks to me in Catalan. I only picked out the name of the square from his speech.) I could hardly keep up with him.
When we arrived I took in the balloons hanging from the tree, the food and drinks all lined up on the bench and all the half naked kids running around. We quickly got rid of Lluc’s top and shorts. I fretted about for a few minutes thinking that he doesn’t have swimmers, only his pants and WHERE IS THE 50 FACTOR SUN CREAM?! But the other parents said ‘tranquilo, tranquilo’, it’s all good, all the other kids were all like that. Then we raced to the fountain on the square, I filled up his water gun (and about 5 more for other kids all wearing only a pair of pants or knickers waiting anxiously for their turn) and the water fight started!
At first the kids were only shooting at the floor and at the pigeons (they have this neverending guerrilla fight against the birds) but some of them accidentally shot at each other. They looked at each other uncertainly for a few seconds thinking ‘shall I start to cry now?’ but then the whole square erupted and all the kids started shooting at each other! The fountain became the most important zone to get the ‘ammo’. Lluc had a pistol that soaks up the water so I had to stand in close proximity of the water with a full plastic cup and every time he ran out of ammo he shouted ‘EDIIIIIT!!!’. I held out the cup for him, he filled up his gun and he was off again. I then walked over to the fountain to fill up the cup.
Two of the dads also joined in, hiding behind the scrawny trees and surprising kids using spray bottles and pouring full cups of water on them. The kids tried to work together and ambush them whenever they could. Meanwhile the rest of the children were waiting at the fountain to fill their guns, peering up at me to help but also looking back at the war zone, their feet stamping the ground anxious to be over there and fight.
After about half an hour when the first 'war' ended everybody crowded over the bench where the food and water was neatly arranged. Nobody told them what to eat first and they all served themselves, some of the parents clearly looked surprised that their little children were able to open bottles and jars by themselves. Hunger is a great teacher.
When everybody was full, the birthday boy’s dad brought a big bag full of something to the middle of the square. All the kids swarmed around him to see what he had. The bag was full of water bombs!
This time I wasn’t needed so I stood back and looked over the scene. The parents were all congregating around the food bench chatting, eating and drinking, having a great time in the warm summer afternoon. I thought how different this is to the birthdays I’ve seen in London! And that I’m jealous of these kids’ childhood. They all seemed so free and happy, the parents are friendly and relaxed, no worries about anything but enjoying the sun and each other’s company.
And then the ‘bombitas’, the kids’ version of Chinese crackers came out…