Sunday, November 29, 2009

Transitional Thanksgiving

Surely on some level, I feared that the Child had outgrown the one tradition, the only tradition that our two-member family ever had, the one time each year when I could say to myself that I was an OK mother. The parenting books all seem to agree that traditions are the key ingredients to a successful family; those traditions create fond memories for decades to come.

It was challenging for me to come up with a family tradition in the first place.  My imagination just couldn't wrap itself around the concept.  The family from which I emerged was not a good model, to say the least.  The only tradition I recall from that family was the one where I end up alone in my room, crying, for hours on end.

The Child always liked to be in water, so eventually, after seeing numerous ads for waterparks on the Disney channel, a light bulb went off in my head.  I don't like being out in the sun, and several new indoor waterparks were springing up across the U.S.  Hmmmm....maybe a trip to an indoor waterpark might be a good idea.....

In my usual style, I spent several days researching indoor waterparks.  I read thousands of reviews, both professional and parent-generated.  The city we live in has a couple of indoor waterparks, but for anyone willing to drive for an hour, one of the biggest and best in the country beckons.

Three Thanksgivings ago, The Child and I experienced our very first tradition with a trip to the huge indoor waterpark an hour away.  We were both very impressed- awestruck, really.  The enormous lobby, several stories high, was decorated to the nines with the waterpark theme and Christmas lights to boot.  The gift shop was the size of Walmart, with clothing, toys, books, food, movies, you name it.  When I spied the Starbucks, I thought I'd died and gone to heaven.

Our room was just as impressive as the lodge itself- it was spacious, clean (practically brand new), tastefully decorated and even had a microwave and refrigerator.  (The Child is impressed by microwaves since I believe the raditation is dangerous and don't own one myself.)

The waterpark itself, located inside the enormous lodge, was stunning.  The Child happily entertained himself there for hours while I spent most of my time listening to my iPod and reading.  When he felt like drying off for a while, there was a captivating magical quest which required participants to run throughout the lodge searching for clues. The game arcade was the icing on the cake.

The only disappointment was that time passed too quickly.  Check-in was 4pm, followed by check-out at 11am - a time schedule typical of most lodging these days.  We frequently talked about our next visit throughout the year, and our second visit was highly anticipated and enjoyed.

This year, I could tell that the Child's level of anticipation was not the same, but I attributed that change to the fact that he's now in Middle School (6th grade).  Middle School tends to change people.  But he didn't even want to swim this year.  He half-heartedly played a few games in the arcade, and then just wanted to watch a movie and play a little Nintendo in our room.  Time passed slowly.  I fought back tears on the long drive home.