Sunday, August 22, 2010

Lessons Learned at a Waterpark

It's official: Item number 40 is the first to be crossed off the list!  Last week my 12- and 13-year-old niece and nephew visited us from Colorado--first time ever without their parents!  Since they're nearly twice the age of our oldest daughter, we had to try to find activities that weren't skewed too far to one age group or the other. 

As luck would have it, their favorite activities involve getting as wet as possible!  All the better if there's any risk of hypothermia!  So after spending a day at the beach, a day at the lake and a day at the pool, we heard that the local waterpark (Wild Rivers in Irvine) has Monday night carload discounts after 4 p.m.  So hubby and I left the little girls home with the grandparents for a pizza party and loaded up the minivan with the aforementioned neice and nephew, plus our 7- and 5-year-old daughters.

Here's what I learned from my experience:

1.  You should always check the depth of the landing pool before sending a semi-swimmer down a slide.

Can you guess what we didn't do?  When we first got there we played in the wave pool for a while, then decided to look for some slides.  Our 5-year-old (we'll call her Diva) looked them all over and basically said, "No way!"  So instead of the great big ginormous twisty slides we found a couple of shorter slides with a small drop into a pool.  They looked pretty innocent--you could see the top and the bottom.  What we failed to realize was that the landing pool was actually 8' deep.  And also that the velocity of the slide caused the rider to plow into and well below the surface of the water.  Needless to say, this was not a good start to our sliding adventure!  After rescuing Diva (myself,  I might add), the lifeguard proceeded to chew us out for sending such a fragile little flower into such a life-threatening situation.  Of course, it wasn't life-threatening enough for HIM to actually jump in and save her, although he did offer to jump in and rescue my sunglasses from the bottom of the pool.

2.  The main clientel will be teenagers.  They will be horny.  And obnoxious.

Perhaps it's different during daytime, but we were one of very few families there in the evening.  I kind of felt like Dian Fossey dropped in the wilds of Africa to study the gorillas.  Except that there was way more concrete and this species was less hairy, wore very small bikinis and roved around in giggling same-sex packs.  Or maybe it was like that scene in Mean Girls when Lindsey Lohan's character visualizes the kids at the mall as wild animals?  We used the same philosophy as we use to deal with bees: If you don't bother them, they'll won't bother you.

3.  It doesn't matter how hot it was during the day.  Once the sun starts to go down you will freeze.

Luckily, as I mentioned before, our children all show a predilection for water temperatures  better suited to penguins and polar bears.  At the beach, the water temp was 60 degrees!  That's only two degrees above the average winter temps and a good ten degrees below average summer temps.  Didn't stop them at the beach and it didn't stop them at the waterpark.  Even though it was 90 degrees that day, the carload discount is for after 4 p.m. so that didn't leave many pre-dusk hours.  And I'm pretty sure they don't heat the water in the least.  By 6 p.m. hubs and I were trying to use our (apparently less than awesome) powers of persuasion to convince them that they would rather get out and go to McDonald's for dinner.  We left at 7:45 p.m.  Brrr!

4.  No matter how fat you are, there will be someone fatter.  And no one will care. 

I don't mean this to be in anyway rude or mean.  It was truly one of my greatest fears about going to a water park.  You see, you cannot wear cover-ups or T-shirts or shorts or even rash guards over your swimsuit on the slides.  Even walking around with a towel is problematic because you have to find a place to stash it before each ride.  So basically it's just you in all your bathing suited glory walking around for all the world to see.  Here's the thing though: Everyone else is doing the exact same thing.  However self conscious you feel?  I'm guessing that everyone else there is feeling that exact same way.  So that whole OMG-I-am-so-fat-must-suck-in-my-gut-do-I-look-thinner-when-I-do-this? feeling kind of wore off after a while.  I wonder if that's how it feels to go to a no swimsuits allowed spa?  Not that I'm ready for that yet!

5.  If you go on any rides that involve riding on an inflatable inner tube, you will want to hold your butt well up off the bottom lest you enjoy the water thrill that is the chlorine enema.

No, I am not going to elaborate.  Just trust me on this.

6.  You will realize that you paid $5.00 per ride.

So I mentioned that whole "check the depth of the pool" thing up there?  This is also important because after your semi-swimmer has to be rescued, she will refuse to go on any more rides unless Daddy can hold her.  This will be against park regulations.  At the end of the afternoon, you will manage to convince her to go on one additional slide for a grand total of two--you do the math.  Furthermore, the older kids will decide that it is much more fun to play "bean each other with a volleyball" in the swimming pool.  Just like they could have done for free all day long at the Y.  At the end, though, you won't care--you'll just be happy to be back in the car with the heater blasting.

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