As a rule, I try not to leave my daughter’s toys on the front lawn overnight. We live in a condo complex, and I’d rather not receive a sternly worded letter from the board about the ‘rules,’ much less one about ‘fines.’ But I do have one summer exception: our Little Tikes Spinning Seas Water Play Table. This $40 colorful plastic tub, which sort of looks like it could be the chocolate fountain at a little kids’ stuffed animal wedding, stands on the grass next to our front walk and has since the mercury started climbing. I’m not moving it until September. I don’t care if my neighbors think I’m a hillbilly.
My wife and I bought the Spinning Seas last year. While our then-15-month-old took to it just fine, she was still a little young to fully appreciate it. This summer, however, it’s by far her favorite outdoor toy. She wants to play with it every morning when we leave for daycare, and every afternoon when we return home. And we do. Because the best part about a water table, unlike, say, a kiddie pool, is that it brings all the splashing, soaking fun without the hassle of swim diapers, bathing suits, or having to be on high-alert every time my kid even glances at it. I conveniently set the Spinng Seas Table up so that I enjoy a clear line of sight through an open front door; my daughter splashes around in the yard, I can make her dinner in the kitchen. We both win.
Now, to be honest, a water table is a water table is a water table. They’re all generally made of plastic, stand on three or four legs, and come with any fun combo of interactive toys ⏤ slides, spinners, balls, etc. ⏤ designed to ensure kids don’t wander away out of boredom. Honestly, I like the 8-gallon Spinning Seas because it’s easy to set up and, most of all, is equipped with a catapult. The mini instrument of mass destruction launches plastic balls into a center tower, where they then cascade through a variety of center-placed spinners. I’m happy to sit there for good stretches ‘shooting hoops’; it’s a fun distraction. Even more so though, I was teaching my daughter how to use it. “Gently push down with one finger,” I would say, slowly guiding her finger, “Now let go!” She struggled at first, and it took a little bit of practice, but she finally caught on.
I also appreciate that, unlike an inflatable pool, I can still slide the whole thing into the shade even when it’s full of water. It doesn’t get too heavy. It also comes with a plastic cup that my daughter uses mostly to water our flowers and tomato plants.
Ironically, the spinners on the Spinning Seas are junk. Not only are they way too narrow, but there aren’t nearly enough of them. You practically need to dump a five-gallon bucket of water just to get them to barely whirl. How’s a toddler supposed to make them spin using a tiny plastic cup? Who knows. Another gripe: To get both the Ferris wheel and water mover to work, the table has to pretty much be filled to the brim. Ours rarely is.
But it is filled. Because for as much as my daughter enjoys playing with it, I’m not lugging that damn thing out of the garage every day and starting over. No, thank you. I’ll take my chances with the fine and my neighbors’ dirty looks. It’s the best lawn ornament I’ve ever bought.