Water park, great equalizer of humanity.
Waves of humans stripped down to the skivvies we call bathing suits. Nothing and nowhere to hide.
The throbbing sun bakes this oasis, this jewel of blue on the drought-worn prairie. We flock to the relief of the pool. We gather at the watering hole: elephant, antelope, crocodile, hyena.
My child, energized by the water and the people, skips between activities. I follow as his guardian and his insurance that he won’t swim alone today.
We begin with the obstacle course. Training for American Ninja.
Children slip across floating lily pads. They scurry and swing along rope webs. They drop and dog paddle ferociously to the finish line.
I observe, taking note of my offspring’s competitive streak. Between his father and me, he didn’t stand a chance of missing that trait, poor thing.
Herds of middle schoolers run together in co-ed packs. High school girls saunter like giraffes in triads, while high school boys buzz in larger, amorphous groups, joking and oblivious to their surroundings.
Tattoos litter bodies. They punctuate skin and recoil like secret sin exposed in the sunlight.
A dragon crawls around a woman’s torso. A cross marks a man’s bicep. A clover nips a lady’s ankle. And on another man’s chest, the infant footprint of his son who now swims beside him, a baby no more.
The hip, young women have accentuated their navels with piercings. Glittery rhinestone stars. All I can think of is how this will look should these girls grow up to bear children. Their tummies bulging with pregnancy, I imagine the star navel rings popping like buttons on shirts. Timers on turkeys.
Soon my child is ready to move on. Bravely I stand, the only person older than 16 in line for the slide.
There are two water slides. The orange closed tunnel and the blue open air. Like closed and open MRI machines.
My child screams with delight as the giant, orange anaconda swallows him whole. Down into its narrow, black throat he disappears. I’m next in line.
I’m usually not claustrophobic, but the tunnel seems too long and too dark. I whiz around curves and pray for light. I wonder if this is what it feels like to die.
A burst of sun and water and the snake spits me out. Has my child survived?
He’s already back in line to slide again.
We traverse the lazy river. We revisit the obstacle course, and I think it must be his favorite thing. Then we see it.
Children run to the foot of the great bucket. The alarm bell rings faster and faster as the bucket tips. A torrent of water splashes down on the crowd of shrieking kids. They disappear in the flood. They scatter as the water dissipates and drains away.
This. This is the thrill of the day.
I stand beside my child the next round. We watch the white water crash toward us. Drench us. Wash and cool us.
We are alive. And for a split second this summer, I am a child again.
How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know Him. 1 John 3:1 NIV 1984
What’s your favorite summer memory?