I took my kids to a newly opened splash pad or “sprayground” in town. It opened on May 12th. I took them the next day, on May 13th.
What is a splash pad?
Think of a half-basketball court with different kinds of sprinklers. The water shoots from nozzles in the ground, pours down from buckets overhead, and sprays from different towers.
My kids love them.
I like them, too. With a pool, I have to worry about my kids drowning. With a splash pad, I can read and let them run around the sprinklers.
The city built the pad in a rough part of town. The train goes through there, and the park is down the street from a graveyard. The houses around are in bad shape. I think it is a great thing the city tried to give the kids in that neighborhood something nice. In Texas, in summer, it is really nice to have a splash pad.
When we got there at 5 p.m., it was full of kids. They were clearly having a great time: laughing, yelling, running around, and playing well with each other. Just being kids.
But then one of the older kids got the idea of rummaging through a garbage can for used water bottles. The idea was to fill them up with water and splash their friends.
Soon the other kids joined in. They scoured the garbage cans for old styrofoam coffee cups, coke cans, and anything else that would hold a little water.
Personally, I would never dig in a garbage can for fun. I told Daphne and Zane to absolutely stay away from the trash. But none of the other parents said anything to their kids. I guess, they thought it was fine!
Then a dad came and started handing out balloons to the kids to fill with water. They loved it. But when Daphne and Zane threw a water balloon, I made them pick up the rubber pieces and put them in the trash.
Not the other parents.
Can you guess what happened?
Within thirty minutes that splash pad became a trash pad. It was absolutely covered in bits of styrofoam, bottles, broken plastic, and the rubber bits of hundreds of burst balloons.
If that kind of behavior keeps up, who is going to clean up the mess?
Not the kids—they don’t know any better (apparently).
Not the parents (apparently)—they were just letting it get trashed.
And not the city. They will not come and clean that place every day.
I don’t think that splash pad is going to last very long. Rubber and plastic and styrofoam are going to clog up the system. And those systems are very expensive to buy and maintain. If parents and kids who use that pad don’t keep it in good shape, they won’t have it very long. It will start looking like the rest of the neighborhood. And not because of malice. Not because anyone is trying to deliberately break things. But simply because of neglect and a lack of common sense.
There is a spiritual lesson here. I hope you don’t think it is too off topic. It’s what I was thinking as I watched this happen.
Success in life, even in Christian life, takes a certain amount of discipline with the resources you have. If you take care of what you have, it turns out; you’ll enjoy them longer. If you don’t take care of what you have, you won’t have it very long.
God has given you resources—spiritual, physical, financial, relational, and mental. Have the discipline to use them well. Think about the choices you make. Try to have foresight about the effects of your actions. If you aren’t a good steward, you won’t have anything left to steward.
As Jesus said,
“For to everyone who has, more shall be given, and he will have an abundance; but from the one who does not have, even what he does have shall be taken away” (Matt 25:29).