As I bent down to give my son, Zack, a squeeze goodnight, he gave me a stiff-arm to the chest.
“Wait. I need to get hydrated for this hug,” he said, grabbing his water bottle and taking several noisy, deliberate chugs.
“Okay, ready now,” he said, holding out his arms. The hug then proceeded without further interruption.
I chuckled to myself as I turned out his light and left the room, then realized that Zack might not have been joking. My kids both sleep with water bottles at their sides. They have water bottles in their car seats. All the kids bring water bottles to school every day, as requested by the school. Their water bottles are never out of arm’s reach, like adults with their cell phones. Incidentally, that’s where the similarity between a water bottle and a cell phone ends. One of them contains the essence of life, and an average adult would die in three days without it. The other one just has water in it.
It’s good that we’re keeping our kids saturated with something other than ketchup, but I do wonder if perhaps they’ve gotten a little too dependent on constant access to water.
“You didn’t put my water bottle in my backpack today. I was thirsty all day!” my son Evan reported last week. An Appalachian Trail through-hiker needs fewer things in his backpack than your average third-grader needs each day, so there’s never a shortage of blame to share for the things we invariably forget.
“Doesn’t your classroom have a water fountain inside the actual room?” I asked.
“Yes,” he said, staring at me with a questioning look, as if trying to determine the relevance of my question.
At home, Evan and Zack have both decided that they enjoy joining me for strolls around the neighborhood, which is wonderful family bonding time, as long as we don’t forget their bottles of personality lubricant.
“I’m thiiiiiiiiirsty. So thiiiiiirsty,” Zack said, about a mile from the house.
“We’ll be home soon. It’s okay to be a little thirsty,” I said.
“Daddy, I’m a tornado of thirst. I need to hydrate,” he said, dragging his feet.
When I was a kid, “hydrate” wasn’t even a word. You know what we’d do after running around in the dust all afternoon? We’d wheeze the thirst away.
Back then, we didn’t even bring water bottles to our own sporting events. At basketball practice, you’d have to wait in line behind three guys who were taking turns spitting loogies into the water fountain. By the time you got to the front of the line, you decided that maybe there were worse things than being thirsty.
Perhaps kids these days are onto something, though. I just Googled my way to the Mayo Clinic website to check how much water you’re supposed to drink in a day. Eight cups, right? Nope. 15.5 cups a day for men, 11.5 cups a day for women. Women are encouraged to drink a little bit less, so that they don’t make us stop so often during road trips. (Of course, that’s an unfair generalization, except in regards to my particular wife, who can’t make it past our mailbox without asking me to take the next exit.)
Eight cups was already an impossible goal. To drink the recommended amount of water in a day, you’d need to fill a red five-gallon gas can with water and just guzzle it all day, stopping only to look at your phone occasionally, to keep your brain sufficiently Facebook-hydrated.
In any event, if you’re reading this column in the morning and you haven’t had four glasses of water yet, you’re already behind schedule.
You can hydrate with Mike Todd at email@example.com, since that’s a thing now.