At the beginning of this summer, a friend and I decided to get season passes for our families to the local water park. Even though I hadn’t been in the six years we’ve lived here, I thought it would be a great way to spend those hot summer weekends. Plus, having a season pass meant that we could even go for an hour or two after work some day.
The only other time T had been to a water park, he was three and it was at Disney World. He had fun splashing around in the water and going down the kid-sized slides.
I made it my goal for the summer to get the kid to go down one of the big slides. And, luckily enough, he was just exactly the right height for some of them.
We spent most of our time in the kiddie areas, or floating along the lazy river. He wasn’t a huge fan of the wave pool, but he would stay close to “shore” and jump over the smaller waves.
Towards the beginning of the season, I got him to agree to go down a big slide. So we stood in line, me holding a tube made for two, and him chatting cheerfully with other kids in the line. We slowly climbed the stairs to the top, where he proceeded to decide it was much too scary. He didn’t want to go down the slide. So we headed back down. I wasn’t going to force him to do something that made him uncomfortable.
Each time we visited the park this summer, I would ask him if he wanted to go down the big slides. Each time he would say no. No matter how many times I told him he would have so much fun, he kept choosing not to.
Until last Saturday.
As autumn is approaching, the water park has actually been off my radar. But our passes are good until September 22nd, and the weather has been much more summery than fall-like. We had been spending a good part of the day cleaning house, so I surprised T by telling him we could go to the water park for a couple of hours.
We started off in the kiddie area, where he would go down the small slides with glee. We headed for the lazy river and floated around a couple of times before I pointed at one of the big slides, mentioned that the lines were really short, and asked if he wanted to go down with me.
He said yes.
I asked if he was sure, because I really didn’t want to climb those stairs just to have to head back down. He thought about it, and then said that he was sure. He wanted to go down the slide with me.
So we picked up a yellow tube built for two and headed for the stairs.
The wait was a lot shorter this time, since people don’t seem to visiting the water park much as we move towards the chillier season. T kept looking out over the edge, amazed at how he could see the whole park from where we were. He could see the “whole world” even. It was amazing to him.
I never even hinted at the fact that the height makes me very nervous. All I could picture was slipping on the wet stairs and cracking my head open all over the concrete.
We got to the top, and he was visibly nervous. I helped him onto the tube, told him to hold onto the handles, and then climbed in behind him. The worker peeked over the edge of the slide and told us it was our turn.
The slide starts off with a pretty big drop. It takes the breath out of my lungs, and then it shoots the riders into a giant bowl, where you go around a couple of times and then shoot down another slide and out into the open. It’s much like a giant toilet bowl, to tell you the truth.
With that first drop, I could hear T screaming. We circled around the bowl once and I called out to him that it was okay, and it wouldn’t last very long.
On the second ride around the bowl, I finally heard what he was saying.
“This is so much fun!”
And here I thought the scream had been terror.
As soon as we shot out the end, I could hear him laughing. We jumped out of the tube, and he excitedly told me “that was the best thing ever! Can we go again?”
And so we did. Eight times in total. We would have kept going, but the park was closing. And climbing those stairs was making my legs ache something fierce. I definitely felt it in my calves the next morning!
After the first time we went down, I laughed and hugged T as tight as he could. I told him how proud I was of him for trying something new. And what did he have to say?
“Mom, you were right. I did have so much fun!”