Three summers ago, we got season passes to the Six Flags amusement park that is not far from our home. Kai was five years old at the time, and we went quite often that summer. We hung out mostly in the section for very young kids, both in the amusement park and the waterpark section.
In the subsequent two summers, we did not go one time. Kai had outgrown the little kid rides, and was too small and/or too scared of the full-size roller coasters and water slides.
But after our fun weekend at the indoor waterpark a couple of weeks ago when we celebrated Kai achieving Level 3 at school, Kai indicated that he wanted to go back to the waterpark at Six Flags.
With temperatures hitting the mid 90s on this holiday weekend, yesterday provided a good opportunity to make our return.
We got there early to minimize the wait time in what we expected would be an extremely crowded park. With Kai having to pee up to several times an hour lately, we were nervous about possibly being stuck in the car for a couple hours.
Fortunately, though, the line to get in was much shorter than expected.
We got to the main entrance and had our picture IDs made for our season pass, and then made our way over to the waterpark. It opens later than the rest of the park, and we would have to wait about 20 minutes for it to open.
Kai was restless waiting. It was a challenge to keep him calm. Was it going to be like this all day waiting in long lines for every water slide?
But when the gates opened, he was content.
We started out on the lazy river. It is supposed to be relaxing, as you float on tubes down the slow moving waterway. But my son was the only kid who thought of it as a thrill ride.
Even though Kai can swim, and enjoys diving underwater for rocks and shells, he hates being splashed in the face with spraying water. On the lazy river, there are several spots with fountains of water spraying the riders. Kai was terrified each time we approached those areas, urgently telling us to move in the direction away from the water, and approaching a state of panic if we didn’t move away fast enough.
After one loop, we decided to try something less scary – a six-story tall waterslide.
Kai was a bit nervous as we waited in line. But he did not approach the panic he had on the lazy river. And when the three of us got in the big round tube and started down, he was thrilled – in a good way. He loved the ride and wanted to do it again.
Later, we tried other slides, and he enjoyed them just as much and he wanted to go again, over and over… well, in between going to the bathroom anyway.
It was hot. And as the day went on, I got very sunburned. (My wife had made sure Kai had sunscreen, but I was frying). I was constantly thirsty (though I made sure Kai stayed hydrated). I was getting tired. But I wasn’t about to stop or suggest going home as long as Kai was having fun.
A few times, the wait in the lines got a little too long for Kai and he got angry. But then the line started moving and we avoided having to leave. And each run down the slide made him forget his anger and he wanted to go back in line to do it all over again.
When we finally made our last run, we were surprised that the workers were shutting down the waterpark. It was closing time.
We had been there eight hours.
When we got home and I was grilling up a late dinner, Kai looked at the map of the park as he reminisced about the day. He told my wife, “I love Six Flags.”
My wife and I were surprised at how well he had handled the conditions. Kai had tolerated the heat and the lines and had a lot of fun. It was not something that he would have been able to do before.
And so, for us, it wasn’t just a fun day at the waterpark. It was another little milestone achieved.