Never attempt to out-think a toy maker. That's what The Esposo and I did and we ended up with a plastic pond of murky water and a small hill of beans in our yard.
We decided we needed to buy a bunch of entertaining, water-based crap for the back yard so that Peapod and The Edge would be amused throughout the heat of the summer. We are now the proud owners of a brand new inflatable kiddie pool with an accompanying inflatable, attachable kiddie slide, a Krazy Sprinkler Hose Thingie, and a Water-And-Sand-Table-Complete-With-Umbrella.
Now, the Water-And-Sand-Table-Complete-With-Umbrella had a very compelling picture on the box. It showed three impeccably clean toddlers standing around it, sharing the toys and smiling at the camera, but I was not fooled by this for one second. I knew that this miracle was accomplished solely through the magic of Photoshop. Immediately I began to concoct a plan to avoid what was sure to become the Mud-Table-Complete-With-Umbrella.
So I put said table in the car, took it home and discussed it with The Esposo, who I find to be particularly crafty when it comes to solving puzzles like these. Together, our Experienced and Clever Parent Brains came up with the idea of beans. We would put beans in the half of the table where the sand was supposed to go! Beans, we reasoned, do not make mud. Beans can be poured and scooped and plus they feel really cool in your hands. Beans would be the answer.
So I went to the grocery store and spent $21 on six very large bags of pinto beans (they were on sale).
Back at home, I poured them into the Water-And-Bean-Table-Complete-With-Umbrella and watched smugly as our kids scooped them up with glee and tossed them happily into the water side of the table. This was good! It went on for about 2 minutes and 14 seconds, then The Edge started to put the beans in his mouth. This was not as good. Peapod and I spent the next hour barking "No Mouth!" intermittantly to The Edge until he seemed to get the hang of it.
Two days of cloudy and cool weather would keep us from the backyard water crap and so we did not see what was happening to the beans in our absence.
When we returned, the water side of the table, which was now actually about 78% water and 22% beans, had become disturbingly murky. A dark ring had formed at the water line and very small flying bugs had started to breed. Apparently we were supposed to drain the thing after we were done playing with it. But that was not all. Left unsupervised for just two days, the beans had sprouted. Of course they had.
I decided to put an end to our agricultural experiment, dump out the beans, scrub the table clean, and start all over using just water on both sides. What I did not count on is that both kids had more fun with the plain old hose that afternoon than they had with all our fancy new crap.