Feb 5, 2013

Racing paper boats

Last week was one of the erratic weather weeks we Texans have become used to. For those of us who grew up in a clearly demarcated climate season, it can take some getting used to pleasant 70 degree weather followed by a cold front and two days later foggy and humid weather. There is no rainy season in Tx either. The rains grace us intermittently; soak the land for a few hours or a few days and then vanish over the horizon to return at another time of its choosing. Last week, the rains started just as I picked up the kid from school and was heading back. The light drizzle quickly turned to a torrential downpour by the time I parked the car into the garage. Five minutes later, the rain was falling in steady streaks.

I was about to close the door when the kid asked, “Mamma, can I go play in the rain, pleeease?”
He was waiting patiently, beseeching me with his big, brown eyes. “Ok,” I said, “but wear your raincoat and your rain boots.” I needed to unload some groceries anyways.

“Ok, ok, ok,” he yelled as he ran off to find his rain gear. The raincoat is from last year and getting a bit small for him. His sweater sleeves poked out under the yellow raincoat’s sleeves. He jammed his feet into the black rain boots and went in search of his plastic boats.
I opened the garage door to let him splash and play on the driveway while I watched over him from the dry safety of the garage. He found a small puddle in the driveway and immediately jumped in it. “This is no fun,” he said. The water wasn’t too deep and the splash barely made it to his ankles. So off he went in search of deeper puddles. He found one in the neighbor’s yard. Their driveway slopes steeper than ours and one corner forms a tiny pool, big enough to make a splash up to his knees.
Not much of a puddle
After testing the puddle for its staying power he brought in his plastic boats and started floating them. “Can you bring my dump truck?” he asked squatting at the shore of the puddle.
“Sure,” I said. I handed him the dump truck which he immediately proceeded to fill with the water gushing down the drain. Then, he dumped all the water over the boats.

“What are you doing?” I asked.
“I am flooding the boats with water to see if they will sink.”

“Are they sinking?”
“Nah, this puddle isn’t big enough,” he said. “Can you bring me a bucket?”

“I am not bringing you a bucket and I want you to come in now,” I said to him. I was cold and wet and ready to go in the warm house.
“Five more minutes, pleeeease,” he said as the fists started to come together in the familiar, begging/ prayerful gesture.
Following the floating boat
I decided to let him play for a bit more. Watching him splash and play in the water, my thoughts wandered to my own childhood. Memories of splashing and playing in the rain with my sister and my cousins came flooding in. I don’t remember who first started the boat competition but it became standard practice for us to make paper boats and race them in the temporary gutter that formed at the side of the road every time it rained.
His boat is ahead of mine
Suddenly, I had an idea. I grabbed some papers from the junk mail and started tearing squares, folding them twice over and then folding them in triangles to make some paper boats.
“Come on kid, let’s have a boat race,” I called out to him.

And the winner is... The red boat

He was skeptical at first but once the boats started floating he was hooked. I watched my son watching intently over his boat, coaxing it to float ahead of mine and sighed contently. We stayed out, racing our paper boats, till our boats were wet and limp and couldn’t float anymore. It was a day well spent even if it was cold and wet and windy. What are your memories of rainy season as a child?


  1. nice post! everyone needs to be reminded to slow down and enjoy the moment. kids are the best at that!

  2. Ahhh Lovely!!! Being in UAE what i miss most is the rain!!!! we do get some showers, but not like Chennai!!!! Me and my Sister used to walk home slowly, drenching in the rain from the bus-stop, each one popping a cadbury's Lolly-pop, Beautiful Days!!! :)

  3. Nice one. It is so much fun playing with, or as kids.Even we used to play a lot during rains and make different shapes of ships with paper.Nostalgic.

  4. I am glad you let the kiddo have so much fun. I too recall that we were always making boats when it rained and our courtyard used to flood if we close the drain vent. Boats in all possible sizes, some float and some capsize. What fun!

  5. Lovely...makes me nostalgic.....making paper boats and floating them in puddles....
    Hows u doing and would love to know the update on "Of Chalks and Chopsticks"

  6. What an idyllic picture you painted right there, Jaya. Makes me want to be a child again. :)

  7. Such fun! He's such a lucky little fellow!

    I miss the rains in Africa and the monsoons in India. My favorite memory of the rains is eating warm roasted peanuts with onions and a liberal sprinkling of lemon juice, from a cone made of newspaper, with rain water dripping into it! This is best done in non-polluted areas -- in the days past that would be Khandala, Lonavla in the Ghats. Just getting thoroughly soaked was in it and by itself a thrill!

  8. Rainbows, walking on wed mud track in our ancestral village, rain drops dripping from the leaves of a gulmohar tree to the nearby pond, pakoras, running to the terrace and getting wet thoroughly, mother would come to scold us but then she would start smiling and start getting wet too! watching rain sitting on a window pane. Hilsa Fish fry and Khichri is a welcome treat for rain in Bengali household and as a child that was like picnic. As a child I have seen rains in Port Blair (Andamans Islands) - marvelous clouds and splashes hitting the sea, in Gwalior where just after the rain the peacocks would come out dancing, in Rajasthan where rain was scarce but if came it was no less than a big affair, people used to sing and dance, in Nagaland where rain was daily life and no one even bothered about it.


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