Here are some tips if you happen to visit Schlitterbahn or another park in the near future.
1. Plan to visit about mid-season--somewhere between 'new, ambitious lifeguard' and 'jaded, seasoned lifeguard.' If you go early, the lifeguards are like hawks and, quite frankly, whistle-happy. They've never had so much authority and are eager to assert their new-found power. If you hit the parks in late August, the lifeguards have become bored with standing in knee-deep water for hours on end and have perfected the art of harassing the guests--as much as they can get away with. So that gentle push at the top of the slide becomes a bit more of a whiplash-inducing shove; that courtesy splash to cool you off takes a more menacing tone.
|Our kids at Schlitterbahn|
2. Leave any inhibitions about how you look in a swimsuit back in the minivan. Trust me, there will always be someone who looks worse in theirs. But there will also be someone who looks better--and she's probably 15. You, too, can stare at her smooth thighs and imagine them dimpled with cellulite in about 10 years, if it will make you feel better.
3. If you decide to travel to the park in your clothes and change in the locker room, make sure your children have their swimsuits. Otherwise you'll have no other choice but to purchase a suit in the gift shop--one that looks like a Kmart clearance cast-off at a Nordstrom price. And, trust me, when your daughter develops a serious case of inner-thigh chub-rub, you'll have to buy a second, less modest suit for her which will eat up your entire souvenir T-shirt budget. Dagnabit!
4. Come to terms with staring at back hair, tacky tattoos and suspicious moles for most of the day. The majority of your time at the park will be spent standing in line, looking at strangers in a way you'd rather not. The person behind you in line is returning the favor.
5. Develop a family code word for 'you have a weird booger in your nostril.' Ours was 'tornado.'
6. Understand that real men pierce BOTH nipples, fo sho.
|My idea of a water park!|
8. View your time at the park as a spa day--one where hydrotherapy was the only thing on the menu. You will be so waterlogged by the time you leave, you don't dare eat a piece of bread for at least 48 hours. I made that mistake and couldn't button my shorts.
After about four hours of water fun, we called it a day. My girl asked when we could come back. I told her we'd come again as soon as her other brother (a college student) could find time to go. I didn't tell her that he'd be taking my place as her tubing partner.