June 22, 2016
Without a second thought, I took the exit. But as I drove toward the flags my mind started to chatter, “omg, Crowds. People. No. Ugh. It’s cloudy, it’s gray. Want to read a book. Do they have a hot tub? NOT in my $50/day plan!”
A deep breath. In and out. I started this journey declaring to myself that, “This would be a journey of mindfulness, of communing with nature and the natural rhythms of life.” My ideas of that included very unrealistic ideas of yoga poses on mountain tops, getting up at the crack of dawn meditating and spending the day identifying plants and animals…all with my very urban 7 year old boy.
But the real point was connection and learning. And connection involves not only listening, but for me as a parent, the willingness to meet my son where he was and pay attention to what might be fun for him and for us both. A water park was unknown territory to me, a wilderness, and pure excitement for my boy.There was some connection and learning to be had.
The place was a testimony to technology and engineering. We were greeted with an indoor arena the size of a football stadium. A massive pool had waves, and a “river” with waterfalls took you around curves and bends on inner tubes. Interspersed in the “river” were massive slides, most 3 to at least 4 stories high.
We ran to the farthest and tallest slide. One sign said, “If you wear glasses, please strap them to your head. We are not liable for broken or lost eye wear. Please keep goggles strapped on. You must be this high to ride this slide (48″).” Robbie made the cut off and shaking with excitement, pulled me into this banana yellow circle tube. We were yanked onto rollers and then shot off the “plank” into total wet blackness. Oh. My. God. Neither of us were prepared for the speed and going airborn, whizzing around tight curves and not having any idea of where or what was happening. Only wetness and my fierce desire not to lose my only pair of glasses. And well, there was some screaming too.
A whole lot of screaming.
When we finished, we looked at each other and Robbie said, “ummm, maybe we could do a smaller slide next?”
I appear to have been a “good” role model in the excess department. We chunked it down and worked our way back up to other monster slides.
Robbie was in heaven. There was one area with a 4 story fortress, a large bucket the size of a small bulldozer 3 stories up, dumping water on kids, with water cannons and smaller buckets dumping randomly. The only rhythm here was screaming and laughter of the kids and beleaguered parents standing to the side. Robbie and I ran up trying to time the drenching. At one point we reached the top slide where there was a sign that said, “100 pounds or less on this slide.” The life guard, a young male, looked at me, and I looked back. He said, “umm, ma’am?” I said, “don’t even go there buddy.” He laughed and waved me through. Note to self: wear the black bathing suit next time.
After non stop play for 2 hours, I needed a bathroom break. I motioned to Robbie to get out of one of the chutes. The life guard said, “heh, bet you have to pee! I life guard here so my 7 kids over there, see those kids over there?…can come here for free. Go on!” “Thank you!”, I said and told Robbie where I was going, and to listen to the lifeguard.
I came back but after several minutes, I was DONE. Robbie took off on an inner tube that took him away on a swirling stream. Another life guard said, “we can see him, don’t worry.” I said, “he has not completely learned to swim yet”.
Another guard said, “he can stand up and we have someone stationed every several feet.” I sat on my chair uncomfortably. There was no one else around on the stream, a life guard every 30 feet and at every curve, every inch was visible on the “stream”. Another opportunity in “momdom” to let go. So I did. And sat back on in my chair taking in the streaming Wisconsin sun light through the clouds.
We slept hard that night.
Some say that there is no difference to the body between fear and excitement, only in the mind and its interpretation of the event. Little did I know this was the start up of 6 weeks of redefining fear into excitement.