We were given family passes to the local water park as a Christmas gift. These passes also include other area attractions, so we’ve been putting them to good use. However the existence of the passes meant that I had to find the energy and mental fortitude to brave the crowds at the local water park. We did and had a good time. After the first trip the kids spent the trip home full of plans for the next time. Today was our next time. We went again and had fun again, but several interesting things happened. The kids did not feel intense about getting to do every single new thing. They were much more willing to settle down with a preferred activity. As a result we didn’t have to do as much negotiating. Also, when it was time to leave, the kids didn’t argue. They remembered last time, how crowded and hot things got as the afternoon progressed. Going home was just the end of this outing, not the last view of the water park forever.
It got me thinking about scarcity and expense. When a trip to the water park is a rare event, there is pressure to make the most of it. This is particularly true if the expense is high relative to the budget. A once-per-year special trip is more likely to be filled with stress, crankiness, and sunburns as everyone stays longer than optimal for enjoyment. As I walked out of the park, I could see it in the faces of the other park visitors. Some of them were determined others relaxed. I’m becoming quite enamored of multiple relaxed trips instead of once-in-a-lifetime special trips. On the way home the kids joked and laughed about food. They were not full of plans for next time. In fact, a couple of the kids said that they actually prefer regular swimming pools. This was music to my ears, because I do too. This is why in all the years previous to this one, we’ve not gone to the water park. Now the kids know that this is not something to lament. A couple of water park trips are enough for a good long while.
The other thing I learned is that I don’t like to go down slides backwards. I much prefer to see where I’m going so that I can anticipate all the dips turns and drops. This should not surprise me as I spend so much of my life trying to anticipate what comes next.