A few years back we made the mistake to bring the girls to the water park. One of those fun park where you have to bring your kids only once to be bound for life and that is exactly what happened:The water park became an unmissable appointment of our Italian summer holidays. In fairness it is a nice and fun family day out and at the end I can have churros topped with sugar.
Years of practice made us experts on picking the right day to go to avoid an excessive crowd. This year we have been particularly lucky because the day we picked was slightly cloudy in the morning and must have discouraged some of the customers.
The downside of a not overcrowded water park is that the queues for the slides are not humongous and you double the runs. Don’t get me wrong, that is good considering how expensive the entrance is, but in the evening when finally home you sure feel it on your legs. All that climbing stairs carrying heavy dingies or airbeds leaves your legs heavy and aching…..but certainly worth it.
In the last fifteen years, I started to suffer from vertigo and I don’t cope well with altitude. My husband and mother say it all started after my bungee jump; my doctor simply says it happens to the most with age, in my case it is just quite premature.
My family knows it and usually spare me the two highest and steeper slides, until this summer.
The fact that over our Easter holidays I made it through a rope bridge above a river must have given them the impression that I was ready to face my fear of height.
They are not good at reading people and obviously, they mistook the terrified grin I had printed on my face for the entire length of the bridge for a bold smile of satisfaction. Sometimes I really wish I had been born with one of those hard serious faces instead of my round friendly one. If you have one of those sure nobody can be confused when you are pissed.
Anway, my happy smiley face and my fool soul let them convince me to go to a new slide. A single person high and steep one.
They tried it and say it is nice and easy and not scary at all. Daughter number two, who is usually more prudent, tried it too and confirmed me that it is super cool.
So here I am climbing the endless stairs, carrying my airbed and checking the ones are going down, or to be precise the ones are flying down and stopping clumsily in atrocious tumbles under the water.
Nearly guessing what I am thinking, daughter number one starts teaching me all the tricks to not tumble at the end, to get faster or slower etc etc etc.
My head is full of information to remember and as more as we approach the starting platform as more the pressure is rising and as more I think that this is a real proof of maternal love, not giving birth without an epidural.
I carefully study all the people in front of me to see what they do and I am now excited because it does look fun, but at the same time terrified to slip before they call the green light or to fall.
My family goes first and before I even realised it they are gone and left me behind.
I am on the starting platform with my airbed ready in position and my big butt up in the air refusing to kneel down in case I slip. My fists are tightly closed around the handles of the airbed. The green light is up. The water park guard whistles in the attempt to make me go but I am not moving.
“Mam, it is green you can go”, he says.
“Don’t you think I have seen it, you idiot? I know I can go I just don’t want to go!”, I think but it is really not the case to be polemic. I lay down on my belly and let myself go.
It is fun, very much so, but unfortunately I am too busy trying to remember all the instructions I have been given to enjoy it. I am so focused on my head, and to be honest so tense, that I don’t realize my elbows are too wide and they are rubbing against the side of the slide. Halfway through it is when I noticed it!The pain is now unbearable, I quickly take my right elbow in. Why just the right one? I have no idea, maybe in the fear and pain my brain get selective. Who knows?!The only thing I know is that when I eventually got to the end, (without tumbling or drawing, because at least my head was in a perfect position), my left elbow had left a trail of blood and flesh behind. Rubbing it on the dry plastic at the high speed I badly burned it.
During the day the blood was replaced by the discharge of white stuff. It was gross and very much painful every time the chlorine water hit the wound, but because the adrenaline is much stronger than the pain I agree to try that vicious slide one more time before we go.
“After all, what can go wrong? I now knew exactly what to expect. I knew how to make a perfect not slippery start, I knew how to hold my head and I knew how to position my elbows.”Ready ,steady ,go.With a sincere and excited smile I went.
Unfortunately, I totally forgot about my feet. My feet that while they were not in the picture on the first fall,(I genuinely can’t remember where I put them), they now decided to make themselves protagonists and hanging out the airbed for the entire drop leaving me with two round blisters.
With a dignified and stoic attitude I silently suffered for the next days and I silently sucked up all the jokes made about my latest waterpark adventures and my burnt wound resembling a square of cooked lasagne. Being the spiritual person I am, I decided to follow Sun Tzu word,”If you wait by the river long enough, the body of your enemy will float by”.
It took nearly a week but at the end, I had three bodies floating in front of me at once.
We rented a pedal little boat with a slide to go in the open water for a swim and some dives. I slid down in a clear and crystalline water, had a nice swim and with extreme satisfaction I looked at my darling husband and daughters astonished faces. Their disappointment for not being able to joke about me not using the slide was palpable. Happy and content I went back on board. They are not easy to surrender and started to show off sliding on their belly. A provocation I didn’t pick up: I might be clumsy, proud and stubborn, but I am not an idiot! Sadly, I can’t say the same of them that busy showing off and laughing they dived straight into a little colony of jellyfish. Screamy, itchy and burnt they were soon back on board too.
“Karma my friends, this is pure karma!”.The jokes are all mine and of my lasagne shaped elbow now!!!