Last summer, I’ve wanted to take Max to a water park. He loves the water since he was an infant, so I thought it would be right up his alley. Last year we never made it. This summer, life continued to get in the way. When we were up in NYC, we went to a sprinkler park in Brooklyn and Max seemed to really enjoy it. So before this summer comes to an end and school started back up, I made a point to take him.
Yesterday was that day. I took the day off from work and Max and I had a Daddy and Me day together. The day was nearly perfect (more on the not perfect part later). Max is only 4, but he has a pretty good sense of his schedule. So when he went to bed Wednesday night, he figured he would be going to Nana’s house in the morning and that Mommy and Daddy would be off to work. I purposely didn’t tell him that I would be home with him on Thursday, because in the past, when he anticipates something fun for the next day, he ends up waking up at the crack of dawn because he’s so excited.
The first thing he asked when he came and woke me up was “Can we go to the park today?”. As I’ve posted about previously, one of his favorite things is to walk along the nature trail at a nearby park. He loves collecting tadpoles, bugs, leaves, pinecones, acorns etc. Since the water park didn’t open till noon, I said sure we can go. So after breakfast I packed a few things and we headed out.
It was nice being at the park during the week. Very few people, so it was nice and quiet. The whole time we were on the trail, we only saw one other group walk by. When we got down to the stream, I handed Max his little net. He crouched down at the waters edge, and looked into the water. Eyes darting around, looking for something he could scoop up. Last weekend, the stream was very shallow. Been a hot and dry summer, so not a lot of water flowing down it. We had some heavy rains Monday night, so the water was much deeper today. I saw him dip his net in and when he pulled it out he said “Daddy, I got one!”. I walked over and saw he had a nice sized bullfrog tadpole. We dumped the tadpole into his little habitat box and continued to search for more. We scooped up a few minnows and few other tadpoles, and then things quieted down. We couldn’t find any more tadpoles or minnows. Then I spotted something in the sandy bed of the stream.
I saw something really tiny wiggling around, trying to hide under a small rock. At first it looked like a tiny water snake. I pointed it out to Max, and his young eyes noticed it had 2 arms and 2 legs. So wasn’t a snake. Best we could tell, it appeared to be a young salamander. I borrowed Max’s little net and scooped the little guy up. Max was so excited. His eyes lit up as he watched the little lizard swim around inside the habitat box. Compared to the tadpoles he had found, this thing was super tiny. Being the smart little guy that he is, he began turning over rocks under the water of the stream. As he did, we saw other tiny salamanders scurry for cover. In a few minutes, we managed to scoop up about 5 in total.
I explained to Max that 1) We needed to leave some behind so that they could grow up and have more baby salamanders next year and 2) Because I had a surprise planned for us this afternoon. So after about 90 minutes of scooping up tadpoles, minnows, and salamanders, we headed home for some lunch.
After lunch, we changed into our swim suites, put on sun screen and headed out to the water park. On the drive I told him where we were going. At first he was upset. When I said water park, he thought I meant the one in Brooklyn. So he thought we would have to drive 5 hours to get to it hehe. When I explained it was only about 20 minutes away, he started asking questions. “Do they have a big pool?” “Do they have slides?” “How deep is the water?” “Can you go on the slides with me?”. As we discussed it, he got very excited. Before long, we were pulling up to the entrance.
After standing in line for our tickets, we threw our stuff in a locker and headed over to the kid zone area. It featured shallow water (from 6 inches to about 3 feet), pipes that shot water, a mushroom waterfall, and lots of stuff to climb on. Max was drawn to the little obstacle course area. He was a little nervous at first, so I climbed up the cargo net with him at my side, crawled under the little waterfall tunnel (which was easy for Max, not so easy for Dad), and went down the little slide back down into the water. Max noticed a taller slide further up. I explained that I couldn’t go on that one (had to be 48 inches and under), and that he would have to do it himself. I walked him through the process, showed him the path he had to go to get in line and he was on his way. The first time he came down, he was a little timid, sitting upright and dragging his feet a bit to slow himself down. After 3 or 4 times, he was leaning back, pointing his toes and flying into the water like a torpedo. Doing whatever he could to get as much speed as possible.
While he was up at the top waiting in line, he spotted the “lazy river”. So we headed over that way. The tubes in the lazy river were huge. So he kept slipping through the hole in the middle. So he wasn’t a big fan. After a minute or so of fighting to stay in the tube, he decided it was much more fun to just swim down the lazy river. We did lap after lap. Throwing empty tubes out of the way and weaving around people. The faster we went the more he loved it.
After the lazy river, we headed over to one of the larger tube rides called “Cannonball”. There were two tubes. A green one that was fully enclosed, and a blue one that was open at the top. I asked Max which one he wanted to do and if he wanted to sit on my lap the first time he went down. He said he wanted to do the green one and that he wanted to do it “all by myself”. So I waited for him to go start down the green tube and then I made my way down the blue side. I figured being heavier, I would make it down quicker than him. Much to my surprise, when I got down Max was already in the water, which was about 4 1/2 feet deep (taller than him). I watched as the lifeguard popped out of his chair. At first Max was a little freaked that he couldn’t touch the bottom. But then the little swimmer in him kicked in and he calmly swam over to the ladder and pulled himself out. I walked over and was expecting him to say he wanted to go back to the kid slide, but instead he ran towards the stairs of the Cannonball and said “lets do it again!”.
The 2nd time down, he said he wanted to do the blue open tube. So I did the green one. Holy crap, the green side was so much faster than the blue. No wonder he made it down ahead of me. When we got down into the water, he said the blue side was boring. So I let him go back up the stairs and let him do the green slide one more time. I as amazed at how quickly he shot out of the tube. But he didn’t seem the least bit intimidated. Much braver than his father for sure.
All in all the day was great. We stayed at the water park about 4 hours, and on the way out, Max said “Well that was fun”. Mission Accomplished!
Now onto the part that made the day not so perfect. On the way in to the park, they have locker rentals. So I rented a locker so we could throw my wallet, keys and our backpack in it. When you rent a locker, they hold your drivers license until you return the locker key. I turned in our key and got back my license. When we got home, I got my wallet, and other stuff out of the bag. It was then that I discovered that my license was not in my wallet. I remember walking with it in my hand as we walked to the car in the paring lot. Between getting Max in his seat, turn on the AC, laying down towels so the seats wouldn’t get wet and loading up the trunk, I guess I dropped it. I called the lost and found at the park and they said noone had turned it in. But they took my name and number and said they would call if anyone did. Fingers crossed that someone finds it in the parking lot and brings it to the lost and found or mails it to me. A little nervous driving to work today knowing I didn’t have a license, but duty called. Will let a few days pass to see if anyone finds it. If not, I guess it’s off to the DMV for me for a replacement.
The last two things I regret is 1) Not bring a camera and 2) Not taking Max to the water park sooner. The park closes down after Labor Day, so it’s only open another week or so. It’s relatively inexpensive (about $30 for the two of us), and it was a great way to spend the day. Next time I’ll definitely bring the waterproof camera so I can capture some fun moments and preserve the memories.
Overall it was a great day. I was very impressed at how well all the kids behaved. I sort of expected chaos and kids throwing water at each other, and cutting in line, and all sorts of mayhem. It was not like that at all. The kids as a whole were very well behaved. Parent’s seemed to pay close attention to their kids, and it was a very family friendly place. Also very clean and well maintained, which is always nice.
There is another county run water park a little further away. They stay open till Halloween. If the weather stays warm enough, I may venture up there one day with Max. It features a 475,000 gallon wave pool. I think Max will love that! There is also mini golf and a 2 acre lake that is stocked with fish for fishing. So even if the weather doesn’t stay warm, that may be a fun place to take Max fishing for the day.
As I checked on Max last night before I went to bed, seeing him totally zonked and fast asleep made me feel good. I tired the little guy out and we both had fun in the process. What more could a guy ask for?