A couple of weeks ago, the kids and I went to Florida with some friends. It was an amazing trip. I didn't get to do a vacation with the kids last year - was so busy with divorce and house selling that it didn't happen. I realized, after this trip, how much we all really needed the break from life.
We flew into Destin/Ft. Walton Beach late on a Saturday night. While standing in line for a rental car to drive 2.5 hours to our final destination, the kids were running around the baggage claim area burning off energy. There was a big display of brochures advertising various activities next to the rental car desk. Cecelia (8), oops I mean Ce-silly - she asked me to change her blog name to a pet name her second grade teacher called her - picked up one on parasailing.
"Mom! I've always wanted to do this! Please can we parasail?"
Me, yawning. "Um, OK maybe? Let me look into it tomorrow." I still had the drive in front of me - unknown territory in the dark - and was a little anxious. I was thinking parasailing? Really? How had she even heard of this? I did it once back when I was 15 or so, but hadn't thought about it much since then.
We arrived safely around 2:30 in the morning and had a magical week with friends and lots of kids. Ce-silly was relentless about the parasailing thing throughout the week. On Wednesday I finally picked up the brochure. It advertised that kids 6 and up could participate, which put Jack (6) into play, if he was willing. More enticingly, we could all ride together. I called the place in Destin and they said they would reserve us a spot at 9:45 on Saturday morning, leaving us plenty of time to parasail and catch lunch before our return flight to Little Rock. Everyone else drove, so it would just be us three. Catch was to convince Jack.
"No way, Mom. I'm not doing that."
I explained the process to him, told him I had done it and he would love it.
"What if the rope breaks?"
"I'm pretty sure the rope won't break. Haven't really heard of that happening. I think you will be fine, but it is up to you. You can stay on the boat if you want, and I will sit with you."
Ce-silly has amazing lawyer-like powers of convincing and negotiation, and by Saturday, Jack was game. We boarded the speed boat and headed out of the bay to the open ocean. We listened to the instructions of the guides and got to watch a couple of people go before us and return safely, so Jack was excited when it was finally our turn. We harnessed up and sat on the front of the boat.
As the boat sped up, the rope loosened and carried us 800 feet up into the air. It was surprisingly quiet up there - I was in the middle of Jack and Ce-silly. Much quieter than on the boat where the motor competed with the 1980's music. Seagulls and pelicans flew by. We watched a plane carrying a bank advertisement in the distance. Jack turned to me in amazement.
"Mom, this is my dream! My flying dream. You made it come true. Thank you so much. I love you."
My heart melted all over my thorax, despite the fact that I worried I had peaked him out at age 6, and it would be all downhill from here. I noticed that his hands were clenched on the ropes.
"Jack, you can relax your hands, if you want. Sit back into the seat. You will be fine. Did you notice down below, how the sun is shining all sparkly on the water? It looks like diamonds, doesn't it?"
He nodded in assent. Ce-silly said, "Mom, I have to pee. I wonder what it would be like to pee 800 feet in the air?"
I laughed and told her - "Well if you have to, I understand. But hold it if you can - we'll find a bathroom as soon as we get off the boat."
"OK, I think I can hold it. Mom, you know what? This is the best 10 minutes of my life. Only I wish it was a little faster - might be more exciting."
Just then the boat slowed us down and dipped our toes into the water before taking off and carrying us back into the air. Ce-silly got her thrill.
We landed safely on the boat and snuggled up happily to watch the last two rides. Both kids and I were sitting serenely, dazzled by the experience. Maybe we'll go again next year. I had to pay $20 bucks for photo service, but for once, I was on the other side of the camera.
Here's to safe landings for everyone.