We rented a huge water slide for our Labor Day weekend party. There were eleven kids and just as many adults at my house and the slide was worth every penny. It had two slide lanes and the kids had a blast racing each other to the bottom. They spent hours climbing the slippery ladder, gripping the rope as they climbed toward the sky. The summit of the slide stood 22 feet above the ground. It wasn’t called the Tsunami for nothing. Wet, muscled bodies of kids ages 4 – 14 slid down and splashed in the water below.
After our BBQ dinner was served and the black plastic trash bags were over flowing with red solo cups and soggy paper plates, the adults donned their suits and braved the Tsunami. Kids and parents paired up to have tandem races. My neighbor even went in her dress! The 30-Somethings felt like kids again, laughing and wiping away mascara smudges, as our kids watched with eye-rolling giggles.
As I pulled myself up the ladder, I spotted my son, Sam at the bottom waiting his turn to begin his climb.
“Sam!” I yelled, motioning with my hand for him to climb up to meet me.
I stood aside and let the other kids pass until Sam and I were together. We reached the top, dripping hose water and breathing in the faint smell of canvas and mildew.
“C’mon!” I beckoned, sounding like a 12-year old girl with my voice screeching over the sound of the dual blowers.
Sam sat in front of me and Uncle Patrick positioned himself in the lane beside us. Together we yelled, “1 – 2 – 3 – GO!”
I pushed off as hard as I could, trying to get purchase on the wet slide. I wrapped my arms around my son and felt my stomach leap into my throat as we descended.
SPLASH! We landed in the pool at the same time and almost emptied it with our enormous wake.
Sam jumped up and pumped his fists yelling, “THAT WAS AWESOME! THAT WAS AWESOME!”
His voice cracked under his excitement. Adrenaline pulsed through him as he shouted his delight.
I lumbered to my feet, hiding tears behind my water-soaked face.
I hugged Patrick and laughed.
The moment when my serious, subdued son let out screams of unadulterated joy was pure magic. Never had Sam reacted to a gift or toy with such enthusiasm. I stood in the pool at the bottom of the slide and the entire world melted away from me. All I could see was Sam, pumping his fists in Michael Phelps fashion, not from something I had given him, but from something we did.
I’ll remember that moment for all of my days.