In primary school, I started what become very quickly, a whole school water fight. It started with one cup of water, then quickly progressed to large cups, then buckets, and then to garbage bins. What ever utensil that could hold more water and be quickly transported to where masses of people were, was called upon. Before long, there were about sixty to seventy (60-70) primary school students involved – running, laughing, chasing, yelling, being chased, shrieking – on the play ground, in various states of wetness.
It was the fifth grade, and nearing the end of the school year. We had completed all of the curriculum content and formal assessment tasks for the year. I had had a great year: I had won the class prize for having completed the most number of projects in the school year, and was to receive a prize for my efforts. The rugby team I played for had won the competition that year.
The final event before breaking up for the year was going to be perhaps the highlight: I was to play a solo spot in our end of year student concert. As a singer guitarist, it was to have been my first public appearance on a stage, in front of my peers.
The year was winding down very quickly into the Australian summer, the heat had arrived, and we were all excited and ready for the twelve (12) week Christmas/New Year vacation period. Everyone was restless to start their holidays – no one more than me. It started with one cup of water. I thought it would be fun to wet one of my friends who was standing on the hot bitumen of the school playground, under the summer sun. He of course retaliated with a cup of water, chasing my down as best as he could. The adrenaline started to kick into overdrive, and we felt it was a logical progression to include others in our sights. We managed to find larger utensils than the small cups we had used initially. As water started flowing fairly freely, screams of delight started to fill the playground, as more and more kids joined in on the fun. Those of us who were driving the water fight continued to escalate the size of the utensils being used to carry the water – progressing from cups to buckets, and then to the school playground garbage bins. What ever utensil that could hold more water and be quickly transported to where masses of people were, was used. Before long, there were about sixty to seventy (60-70) primary school students on the play ground, mostly all with smiles on their faces, drenched to their skin. I recall a feeling of joy, having initiated so much fun amongst my friends and peers.
However, unfortunately the same view was not shared by our teachers. The school principal got onto the school PA system and ordered us to cease. The teachers surrounded us, and herded us towards the front of the assembly stairs where the Principal formally addressed us each week. We were scolded for being so undisciplined and pre-warned we would need to be punished for such unacceptable behaviour. In order to exercise their duty of care, we had to dry out, which required us to stand out in the playground, on the assembly dots which were spaced about 1 metre apart. Our arms were to be held out in the air like scarecrows, under the watchful eye of school administrators, teachers, and the Australian summer sun. We had to stand there until we could prove that all of our clothes and under garments were dry. I recall this took about three (3) – four (4) hours before we had fully dried out. It was quite tiring on our arms being suspended in the air for so long. While we did this, the few students who had not got involved, returned to class and were progressing their class activities, including preparation the pending school concert. As I stood under the summer sun, I recall feeling mischievious for having initiated such an event; but amused and glad for it, considering the look of joy on everybody’s faces, and the collective mischief we all felt for what we had been involved in.
When I returned to the classroom I recall getting a disapproving glare from my teacher. I soon realised I had missed out on my class awards’ presentation, in which I was to receive the top award. At the end of the day, my teacher handed my prize in a quiet moment, away from others. Further punishment was to include being prohibited from participating or attending the following day’s end of year concert, something that I was disappointed about.
However, as I recalled that memory over many years, my mind has always returned to look of joy on everybody’s faces, and the collective mischief that we all felt for what we had been involved in. It was surely worth it, as we all got swept up in the joy of being kids and acting in a way so against the adult way – getting totally soaked to the skin with water – yes water! Ahhh, the memories…….