I’m writing this on the upper deck seating area of an enormous hotel waterpark…a generous gift from my sister and her husband. The kids are having a ball. And not just my kids; there are probably 500 offspring running and yelling around this place. Oh, excuse me. Did I say “yelling?” I meant “shrieking” or “caterwauling” or possibly “screetching.” It’s bedlam of the highest order; Lord of the Flies, only much more colorful. There is rock music blasting out of the speakers and the chatter of 200 parents ingesting many, many cocktails. My children are being disarmingly adorable and super sweet together. Watching them I can’t help but smile fondly and think how there is no way on God’s green earth I would be caught dead here, if it weren’t for the kids.
You see, I am basically an elderly person at heart. You know what I like to do? Sit. Sit and read and nap and eat. I have no problem eating dinner at 4:30…preferably after a highball or two. And under normal circumstances the din of this place would be something I would expect to experience in Hell. There are those people who are naturally playful, who never really lose their childhood exuberance. My sister is one– and many of the guys I know. I wasn’t even one of those kids when I was a kid. You know what I liked to do when I was a kid? Sit. Sit and read and nap and eat. I’m not even joking. My mom always says that sending my to my room to take a nap when I was misbehaving was no real punishment for me since I never minded it, but at least it got me out of her hair. The fact that I just took off my sneakers and rolled up my jeans is the equivalent of those madcap college girls whipping their tops off for Marti Gras. Look out! I’m cutting loose, now! Pitiful, I know.
I fear that on the outside I look like an uncaring mother. One of those cold, too-busy-to-smell-the-roses types. Like if I LOVED my children, I would put down my computer, get in a swimsuit (fat chance) and play with them, already. But what I think is this; I should get double brownie points for this. I know for a fact that if we closely examined the photos of my children’s lives, a goodly percentage of them show me, with a tight-lipped grin clearly counting the minutes until whatever precious childhood memory is over. Let me be clear, here. I would do each and every one of those things again. Watching joy play on my kids faces automatically makes every event worthwhile. Every tedious pony ride, sweltering summer trip to an amusement park or never-ending minigolf round. Does it even count if it’s something that you would normally be doing, anyways? At that point, aren’t your kids just along for the ride? No WAY it carries the same weight as those of us who wiggle our pasty bodies into a swimsuit and and haul our sorry butts down to the city kiddie pools, humiliated all the while, just because it makes our sweetheart little angels smile.
It’s the same reason I like to show up and cheer on the last half of the runners for our local marathon. The people that breeze through in three, three and a half hours? Pffffffft. This isn’t even that special of a day. They clearly ran yesterday and will more than likely run tomorrow. No. I like to recognize and applaud those folks for whom every step is a painful, unpleasant challenge. I look at the strain on their faces as I cheer them on and think, “I know what that feels like.”
It feels like an evening in a waterpark.