How do you solve a problem like Maria? No idea. How do you solve a problem like Dar? I don’t really know that either, but I know that we try things that have made him smile in the past. One of these is taking him to water parks. Another one of these is avoiding previous mistakes at water parks. This last weekend, we made sure to avoid arriving at the park during the minute it opened, to avoid those queues that bring out Dar’s screamiest side.
Instead, we arrived ten minutes later. We didn’t have to wait, really; security just needed time to go through our backpack. (Leaving the backpack in the car – leaving Dar’s snacks in the car – would have created more chaos than it prevented.) And even that time elicited screams. Dar could see the geysers up ahead and this put him on Freak Out. He barreled through the next gate while we hurriedly showed them our passes. What does Dar do when he arrives at the fenced-off geysers? Nothing. Stand in their beautiful wake. This is enough for him, and so…it’s enough for us.
I ought to repeat that last sentence as a mantra. Because even as I type it now, it goes against my instincts. I want to try everything, like Shakira says in that song in Zootopia. Yesterday I was at Whole Foods with Dar. Even though Dar has had more than his share of meltdowns at supermarkets, I noticed that the fresh food bar area had just rolled out some incredible-smelling newly cooked food. Yesterday I let Dar walk up to randos and mess up some shelves (I cleaned them later) so that I could make myself a lunch consisting of a tiny bit of about twenty different food items. Reader, it was DEE-LISH. (Trade offs.)
And I have a similar approach to a place like Hurricane Harbor. I want to sample a little bit of everything. Instead I have to keep reminding myself to focus on what works. In the case of Dar, yes, we eventually pried him away from the geysers, so that we could take him to the wave pool. The wave pool is is happy spot. Every time I tried to show him something that he might like just as much, for example a waterslide or a watery playground set or a lazy river, he just screamed and took us back to the wave pool.
What is a wave pool, you might ask? Oh, it’s this ginormous swimming pool, at least twice the size of an Olympic pool, that starts at a depth of nothing (you step into it without stepping down) and gradually descends to a depth of about three feet. That’s about a foot shorter than Dar, which works out very well for him. Waves roll in for about five minutes, then stop for about another five minutes (I don’t know the exact intervals). Dar loves this. As it starts, he hops on his heels with excitement. He plunges in and out of the waves like a seal, but somehow more happily.
The last time we’d been to this water park, we rented one of those inner tubes from them that looks like an “8,” with a hole for each of our two kids. Let’s call this kind of inner tube a “double” and not a “single,” the latter being the normal inner tube. Last time at the water park, at the wave pool, I plopped Dar in one ring of the double and clung myself to the other side of the other ring. Sure, there was a weight discrepancy, but I could manage it by judiciously managing my weight on the tube. We both had a lot of fun that day – I mean he was grinning from ear to ear.
This last weekend, however, we rented a single. So much for sticking to what works. It made sense because only Dar’s brother really wanted to use it. At some point I tried to put Dar in it (solo) in the wave pool. At first he protested, then he let me, then I tried to cling to the side as I’d done in the previous paragraph, then I could never get the weight right, then Dar screamed some more, then I let Dar out to return to his favorite thing, hanging around the waves solo.
And when I say it’s his favorite thing, I think he did it for about five hours on Sunday. No snack breaks, no bathroom breaks. Just plunging in and out of the water. He loves loves loves it.
I can personally take or leave the wave pool. I mean, when Dar’s there, it’s hard for me to zone out on my phone, because it’ll get wet or I’ll lose track of him in the crowd. (This is why you’re not seeing a good photo.) So…I wouldn’t exactly call it a perfect day for both of us. But: all evidence suggests that Dar is very, very happy in the wave pool. Crazy happy. Extremely happy. In twenty years I want to be able to say we tried to make him happy when we could.
But is it really a life, when it’s just a day of repeating something over and over? Or maybe I’m learning that’s what life really is? (Whoa. Mind. Blown.) I mean the bottom line is that maybe I should learn to love him doing something so repetitive. By the same token, maybe I should just keep repeating this same blog post. Maybe I should just keep repeating this same blog post. Maybe I should just keep repeating this same blog post. Maybe…(kidding)