You can lead a kid to water, but it might cost you

Sometimes the idea of a thrill ride is very inviting, especially when that thrill ride is somewhere else.

As you get closer to the ride, and begin to appreciate how tall it is or how fast it goes, the thrill can slip into fear. I’ve had this experience, and now my son has, too.

We were visiting a hotel that housed a couple of enclosed water slides. We had to bide our time in a regular pool for a while because a thunder storm had closed down the metal slides. My son has a love-hate relationship with water, so we passed the time having a squirt gun war that consisted of him squirting me and then complaining of Geneva Convention violations every time I attempted to squirt him back.

He rarely entered the pool, though the water barely reached his waist, because standing up to your hips in water is half-way to the horror of putting your head underwater. It’s a slippery slope, and even a four-year-old can figure out that the slopes must be slipperier around the pool, or they wouldn’t yell at you so much for running.

Just as our little swimmer was in danger of getting wet, we learned that the slides had reopened. We hurried back, excited about the thrills that lay in store. In our minds, those thrills were enclosed completely within the envelopes of our comfort levels.

1900 water slide

I didn’t get a picture of our water slide. Fortunately, these 110-year-old kids got one of theirs. Just imagine this, with more metal, curves, and color.

At the stairs leading to the top of the slides was a wooden squirrel with a measuring stick. The squirrel said you had to be yea tall to ride the slides. While I picked out a two-person tube, my son approached the squirrel. Every step of the way he carefully examined the stairway that rose so high that it disappeared into the roof of the building.

I could see the exact moment when that squirrel changed his tune. As my son drew close, the squirrel whispered that you have to be shorter than the line to have an excuse for not riding the slides. My son stood up next to the yard stick. Too his dismay, he learned that he stood a good two inches above the exemption line.

Stripped of his technical disqualification, the boy’s only recourse was the ugly truth. “I don’t want to go.”

Caution can be a good thing. This boy’s cautious nature has surely saved us trips to the E.R. Yet, what parent wants their kid to be the one who is sidelined by caution while the other kids are having fun? There has to be a middle ground. That middle ground was the tube slide.

Mother and father conspired to trick coax the boy into helping us carry the tube up the stairs. At the top, it took 15 minutes of negotiation and the bribe of new camouflage shorts and a trip to the toy store to get him into the tube. We had to launch quickly, so he ended up riding with his mother.

playing in the kiddie pool

Fearlessly protecting his little brother from water spouts in the kiddie pool. No time for any more thrill rides.

I went down both slides, and the one he took was much less intense. Still, he did not enjoy it. This made us feel bad for a while, but it didn’t harm him, and now he gets to collect his rewards. All in all, he’s a better man for it.

As for the parents, well, the slides were supposed to be cheap entertainment. Let’s see how much that one ride ends up costing us.