Regular readers know that Dar loves water. But there are circumstances when he doesn’t. One of these occurs at water parks when he refuses to ride waterslides. Another occurs when we wash his hair; he screams at the decibel level of a dozen car alarms. We think perhaps it’s because he doesn’t know what we mean when we implore him “CLOSE YOUR EYES!” Or maybe he does know but he doesn’t like the traces of soap.

So I was skeptical when wifey suggested a water-based solution to our water-based problem. Allow me to quickly explain the problem. As I mentioned in a recent blog post, above all else, Dar loves hose time. He hands me his talker and taps the following icons, “I,” “want,” “hose.” I love it when he knows how to express himself, and so it kind of breaks my heart to have to say no to him. I sometimes do. But I sometimes cave. And when I cave, Dar plays with the hose. And lately he’s been spraying our outside south wall so much that the paint is peeling off. And thathas become so severe that the City of Berkeley has told us to peel off all the paint and replace it. (Houses painted before 1978, as ours was, are presumed to be just dripping with lead.) Not only that, but Dar’s hose use wastes water. Not only that, but water drips into the nearby sidewalk, and I’ve literally overheard neighbors complain about walking on a wet sidewalk. (I’ve never complained about any such thing, but hey, you know, other people.) So that’s the problem.

Wifey’s proposed solution to the hose? Basically the next term in an abridged dictionary: hot tub. Hot tub? I figured there were easier and cheaper ways to distract Dar. Dar’s brother’s music teacher has this lovely DIY water feature that recirculates water into a small plastic case, just enough for the peaceful sound and presence of slowly gurgling water. But…we couldn’t reach the music teacher over the summer and the people at Ace Hardware and Home Depot gave me bewildered looks when I tried to explain the thing.

We were feeling an urgency. Plus, what homeowning couple in their 40s without a hot tub has failed to discuss getting a hot tub? Nobody. Because everyone wants a hot tub. I was always put off by cost…until wifey discovered that a hot tub could cost less than $400.

This model actually wasn’t our first choice. We tried to get a different one on Amazon. But Amazon wouldn’t deliver it to us, or to their local delivery point, or even to one of my neighbors (I was gonna surprise them!), and the lady on the phone finally said, “yeah, must be your California regulations.” How sweet of her. So we went with a different company. And didn’t settle at all.

Now, this isn’t a hot tubhot tub. You’re not going to happen upon it as part of a larger spread in Architectural Digest. This is merely a plastic vessel that you can fill with water, heat, and saturate with jets to make the heated water bubbly.

Turns out that’s all Dar needed. Wifey was right. I was wrong. Yay!

Dar loves this thing. He plays in it like a seal in his habitat. He loves it not unlike the way he loves our bathtub. In our bathtub, he regularly spills water onto the floor. In the hot tub, out on the patio, no such worries. Daddy happy.

Dar is still asking for the hose. But I’m getting more comfortable saying no and redirecting Dar to the hot tub.

We still haven’t been able to make the hot tub truly hot. The aspirational thermometer tops out at 104. The actual thermometer hasn’t risen above 93. Ninety-three degrees isn’t terrible for a hot tub; it’s pleasant. But boy I’d love it to crack three figures.

I was actually dreading this week, because Dar’s brother doesn’t have camp, and Dar has limited therapy hours. I’m sure many of my fellow parents can understand the dread that accompanies that final week of stir-craziness before the kids return to school.

But…we’ve just had some incredible moments in the hot tub. Me and the boys, tickling and laughing. For the first time ever, Dar’s brother has been getting his face wet on purpose. Amidst so many giggles! I assume my neighbors are well accustomed to the sound of Dar screaming from the backyard. I’m happy that that particular noise is a little different at some points this week.

Sometimes in the middle of an uproarious tickle-fest I’ll flash the thought: “oh right, this is what it would be like if we were a normal family.” Then the feeling goes away.