Last week I watched my kids go parasailing. They had a blast. Taking my kids parasailing over the Pacific wasn’t something I had ever really considered doing. But to explain that I have to back up. Three years ago, while on a family vacation in upstate NY, I committed a heinous parenting faux pas.
Excuse me, I helicoptered.
We were vacationing at the lake, with my parents and cousins. For one sun and fun filled day, we rented a boat. The boat came with a giant inner tube and a tow line. You get where I’m going?
My sons, then 10 & 7 had some experience with this type of activity. Their summer camp hosts power boat activities. “PBA” is when they get to straddle a giant inflatable banana, zooming and bouncing over waves, hanging on for dear life. I can just picture their grinning cheeks flapping in the wind, like a happy labrador with its head out the window. Yay! The joy!
But I couldn’t relax.
Just before we left for this trip, a friend had messaged with a tragic cautionary tale. One of her daughter’s good friends had been suddenly killed in a freak boating accident, when she fell off a float that was being towed. The story was fresh in my mind, that day. Also spinning my propellor was our own inexperience at boat driving, the crowded conditions on the lake and how much I really just wanted to sit back and enjoy my beer without the constant panicked visions of dismemberment.
“Slow down!” I chastised my husband, every time the boat picked up enough speed for me to have to hold onto my hat. He rolled his eyes at me, slowing down, but not without that telltale twitch in his jaw.
“You know this is perfectly safe. I’m not going to kill our kids…”
“Faster!” screamed the three boys on the float in the back.
“Slower,” I responded.
It wasn’t to be. After some harsh words between my husband and me and a suggestion I trade the beer for a xanax, this activity was called for bad weather. I was the bad weather.
I’ve never lived it down.
“Remember the time we were boating on the lake and you wouldn’t go above 3 miles per hour?”
“Remember how slow you made us go on the float?”
“Remember how UNfun it was when …?”
Cut to last week when the same cousin was visiting, this time on our turf. On his bucket list for the trip, was parasailing.
“We want to go parasailing too!” my kids said. Quickly followed by, “Hey mom, remember when we were at the lake and…”
After reviewing the company’s profile and safety messaging, and doing a few deep breathing exercises, I finally relented.
“I’ll let you on one condition,” I said.
“Really?” They leapt on it.
“You can go if I never have to hear how lame I was back at the lake. That story gets retired.”
“Deal!” They shouted.
Out on the Pacific we leapt over waves in the speedboat. The parasail unfurled and billowed out behind us, impossibly large and bright against the relentlessly blue sky.
“You two, you’re on first!” the wrangler said to them.
It was all happening so fast I barely had time to reconsider. I didn’t get my camera settings right. I fumbled with the Go-Pro as I handed it to them. And then poof… away they sailed. Up into the sky. A tiny dot. My kids were at the end of a rope, hovering 800 feet over the ocean. I remained at sea level.
“How long should I leave them up there?” The driver asked me. I squinted and tried to see their faces with my zoom lens. Were they smiling? Were they screaming with terror? How long should they stay UP THERE?
“Whatever the regular amount of time is,” I smiled through my gritted teeth. The boys had been told that it was 7-10 minutes so I figured that even if they hated it, they were prepared to endure that long.
I need not have worried. Their smiles were evident from about 400 feet and lasted for almost four hours after. Happy puppies.
The worst part of going first? They could not go again. The best part of letting my sons go parasailing?I never have to hear about that time on the lake, ever again.