Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Schnickelfritz conquers the slides

I have to brag that for a small rural town, we have a wonderful pool.  There are spashing features in the shallow side for the the little ones.  The gentle slope of the walk-in area provides a place for moms to sunbath and still enjoy the cool water.  There are two 2-story, squiggly slides affectionately named ketchup and mustard by the local kids (each brightly painted to match their name-sake condiment).    But looming in the 8 ft section where the afternoon sun doesn't shine are two short slides.   After sliding down the enclosed tubed, the swimmer faces a two foot drop into the deep water.  The blue one is straight and the yellow one has a 90 degree turn at the top.  These two slides kept my son from having an enjoyable day at the pool ALL last summer. 

He so desperately wanted to go down them, especially when his younger friends did so without fear.    Sometimes he would get in line  but always give way to those behind him and eventually step out of line all together.  He almost breathed a sigh of relief when the lifeguards would block off the steps to the slides--apparently the glare of the setting sun would make it hard to see in the water, creating a safety hazard.  I wavered between offering bribes if he was successful to feigning indifference to try and relieve the burden he was placing on his shoulders.   He would spend precious swim time studying the slides from every possible angle of the concrete pool deck.  He would watch the happy sliders and interview them as them climbed the ladders out of the water.  He did everything just shy of asking the pool manager for the scematics.   If knowledge was all that was necessary to overcome fear this ordeal would have been over a long time ago.  The stumbling blocks were always the same: the water was too deep, the drop was too high, he wasn't allowed to wear his goggles.

Today was our first trip to the pool this season.  As we left the car my Schnickelfritz informed me that today was the day, he would go down the slides before the friends we were meeting arrived (I suppose he wanted to avoid the pressure as this was the younger friend who was already a slide veteren).   I prayed that this was not the beginning of another long summer.   We went over the facts together: he'd already been in deeper water, he had left his goggles off before.   He marched straight to the slide as I went in search of lounge chairs in the shade.  The next thing I knew HE HAD DONE IT!  My mother's ears picked up his voice shouting to the lifeguard what he'd just done.  I got a hearty thumbs up as he got in line for the other slide.  And then it was as if he had to make up for last years lost summer as he went down both slides over and over and over.

Now how do I tell him that the Church camp he's going to next week has one of those airbags that launches them into the lake like on Wipeout?

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