Until last weekend, Dar had never been to a water park. Then again, he wasn’t the only one. On our family’s drive out to Waterworld California, I asked wifey, “Have you ever been on a waterslide?”

“Of course.”

“When?”

“Orlando.”

“You went to one of the water parks there?”

“Sure.”

“Really? Cause when I was in Florida I went to four Disney parks and two Universal parks, but not the water parks.”

“What is a water park?”

After a little questioning and answering, the truth emerged that wifey had been on a log ride. Never a waterslide. (Wifey didn’t grow up in the U.S.A.) I had to explain what a waterslide is: like the concrete slide at our beloved nearby Codornices, but with a lot more length, plastic, and water.

As of Saturday morning, only one member of our four-person family had ever been on a waterslide. And…as of Saturday evening, same.

I chickened out. I didn’t dare take Dar on a waterslide, because I didn’t want him to have some kind of major freakout. He doesn’t love losing control, and plunging down a watery flume might have pushed the wrong buttons. I thought maybe if he was in my lap, we could have a success, but I figured, and was right, that Waterworld won’t allow that. When I asked, when I played the autism card, they gave me that same look that parking attendants give when I flash our handicapped pass. The lips disappear behind the teeth. Can’t help you.

And I truly do understand. What Dar needs is his own waterslide for his initial foray, like the one that Camp Winnarainbow took from Marine World. I wanted to try him on small ones, but he didn’t like standing in the queues. Speaking of the baby/starter ones, I tried to cajole mom and brother into just one ride. Nope. Dar’s brother is more risk-averse than Dar. He takes his cues from his mom that way, heh.

I figured Dar would love a water park, because of his relationship to flowing water. Every day he asks for a bath; every bath he plunges his head if possible; every time we pass flowing water features on the street, he’s drawn to them like a dog to another dog.

But I also anticipated challenges, and certain predictable problems arose. The main issue was that after he found one site with desirable amenities (spurting/gushing water, mostly), it was very hard to convince him to change sites. Basically, he screamed every time we asked him to move. No idea what parents thought, watching me drag this hysterically screaming child along the pathways. Lucky for me the general ambient noise at a water park is pretty darn loud. A lot better for Dar, and us, than, say, a white-tablecloth restaurant.

If you know Waterworld, let me tell you Dar’s favorite locations. He loved the lazy river. Wifey got us a double-inner-tube (a floatie that resembles the number eight) and my two kids rested in its two holes as I pushed them along the flowing river, the water about the height of my waist. Of course, we managed to do it wrong. Of course, some teenage lifeguard managed to yell at us because Dar was sitting too high in the inner-tube. Bleh. I was trying to keep Dar from falling into the hole. He didn’t like it when he was in the hole with his head surrounded by rubber. Little did I realize that Dar preferred just walking with his head above water. After I learned, that was fine, except that it was hard to keep my two kids from drifting apart. Ah, live metaphors.

Waterworld, in Concord, has two big playgrounds. Dar liked those, though he stuck close to the parts with water popping out of something. Never really got him into any of the many other playground features.

It was the same with the wave pool. He didn’t care for the waves, less for the floatie, even less for the wave pool’s mushroom umbrellas that rain down…uh, rain. Oh but he DID love the water incoming from a waterslide endpoint-pool, flowing over many rocks into our basin. He was all about watching it fall over his hands. I got very lucky, because he wanted to sit on the rocks…for hours (if I’d let him). A kid next to him, smaller than him, stood on the rocks and got immediately whistle-blown.

Lifeguards are just doing their (summer) jobs. They can’t let a kid stand on wet rocks, fall, and hurt himself. Dar’s default position was just on the correct side of safe. Which let me and wifey relax. Ahhhhhhh.

And the sunscreen even held up!

Relaxing on Saturday was even more relaxing than usual, because it’s hard to drag a smartphone around a water park. (Hence the few photos you’re seeing.) You kinda have to put it in a locker, and we did. I mean, yes, I relax at other times, but let’s face it, even (or especially) when I’m supposed to be relaxing, I check that phone too often. Toward the end of the day, I got the phone out of the locker to find out that while we were splashing around over-chlorinated water, some alt-right maniac had driven a car into peaceful protesters in Charlottesville. Life and justice demanded attention again.

But we had a first venture to a water park, and by our standards it was a terrific success. Next time wifey will even wear a bathing suit. Next time someone other than me might even do a waterslide. Who knows? Excited for Waterworld 2.0.

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