Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Taking the plunge and making a splash

The summer's flown. We'd promised Faith a little mini-excursion to an amusement park. But since my mother's been ill, we just couldn't get away. We finally ventured to Whitewater last week before school started. A check on the Website showed that some of the "splashier" rides had a 48-inch height requirement. Time to get out the measuring tape. Oops - about 46 and a half to 47 inches. How could we go and not take on The Tornado? Faith had no fear, so we piled her long hair in a bun on top of her head and hit the park. No one even checked her height at the twister and she checked her fright in the first few seconds. As we entered the giant funnel on our raft, there was a momentary look of terror that broke into giggles as soon as I said how much fun it was. Next stop - The Cliffhanger. "I want to go first," Faith said as she was heading to the 9-story freefall slide. No, Daddy should go first so he can be at the bottom as she came down. We got a horrified stare from one mom waiting for the adjacent ride. How could we be letting our little one take the plunge? I didn't want to discourage Faith, but wanted to prepare her. It was going to be scary, I told her, but by the time she could get scared, it would be over. When we got to the top of the tall staircase, it was shift change for the lifeguard on duty. "Where's the height stick?" the new guard on duty asked as we were getting closer to the top. Luckily, it was down on the ground. It was a very short wait for this ride. Not many people are brave enough to give it a try. "Step back to the mark," the new lifeguard told Faith. Between her pool shoes and the bun, she was in. Down daddy went. Faith handed over her shoes to me and followed him down. "I've got to see this," one young man said as Faith loaded herself onto the top of the slide. About a half dozen people peered over the edge as she dropped down below. I couldn't wait to go next because I was so afraid she'd been traumatized. I don't even remember much about the experience except when I got down to the bottom, by bathing suit was now a thong. Thank goodness I was wearing a little swim dress over the panty part. Faith was laughing and giggling, while my heart was pounding. After I quickly adjusted my suit and retrieved my dignity, I was beaming with pride over my fearless child. After a few hours on the kid rides, we discovered there were more big slides on the other end of the park. I pried Faith away from the treehouse of downpours and kids-only slides. We stopped at the map and I read her the titles of the other attractions. "I want to do on the Dragon's Tail," Faith said excitedly jumping up and down. Unbeknownst to her, she picked the last 48" requirement ride. We started singing the theme to Dragon Tales on PBS and were off. There were two rippling slides and Faith wanted us to go down at the same time, so we got in separate lines. My line moved much faster and I got ahead of her, though. As I was barreling down the plumes with my body coming off the slide and bouncing back down on my bottom, I knew this ride might be too much for Faith. Her little body would really be weightless on the slide. I was hoping that the lifeguard would measure her and abort her run. We left our shoes at the bottom this time, so I knew she wouldn't make the cut. I could see her and Matt up at the top, but couldn't understand why he was in the chute first. I thought maybe she had been turned away and was coming back down the stairs. When Matt splashed down into the pool with great glee, I asked him about Faith. "She's right next to you," was his reply. Somehow I missed her tiny body coming down the slide as I focused on the top. As she looked up at me, her eyes were wide and her mouth was closed. She seemed like she was in a daze. "I hated that one, Mommy," she said. Daddy was the only one who wanted to go again. When I asked her later about what she was thinking, "I just wanted it to be over," she said. No more butt busters for us.
- Liz Fabian

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