The girls wanted to go tubing for Hanna’s birthday and I was very excited to make their wish come true, other than, I had just had a wisdom tooth pulled and my face looked like half-Liz and half-fun-house-mirror-punched-with-a-cantaloupe including the grainy skin.
I asked Chloe in the morning if my face looked different. She said, “Yeah, those black marks under your eyes make you look really, really old. Bye.” That was sweet. I liked knowing that the bags detracted from the saggy, silly putty my right cheek looked like I had glued on.
I knew I couldn’t put on a helmet strap and/or face plant into a pile of rocks with the current state of my cheek sack. That’s actually on my list of recovery instructions; no hot foods, nothing crunchy, no tight helmets or face plants into piles of rocks—for 24 hours.
I was a little hesitant about setting sail to Chloe’s tube, especially since we had never tried anything like this before, I wouldn’t be in the water with the girls and I had just read a rather disturbing article about a young couple who threw their four year old son off of a 27 foot bridge. How could ANYONE do that to a child? Watch out for those rocks, Chloe!
I decided on my hike back up the hill, I would meet the girls at the end of the lazy river, take pictures and help them carry their equipment back to the rental shop.
Except after the second step on my trek, I had a strange Mommy-moment when I started to think of all of the things that could go wrong. Flipping out of the tube, gushing currents my kids weren’t strong enough to battle, Kevin Bacon in a River Wild, lice from the helmets, someone needing a snack and the food was in the trunk!
I started to run towards the end, face throbbing, Crocs sloshing. I would run and panic and that little Mommy-voice that never shuts up in my head was shouting, “Get going! You have to beat them to the end! They’re all going to drown! You’re as bad as that Mom with the kid on the bridge! Do you even have tea-tree oil at home because your kids are definitely going to have lice after this!” Then the voice said, “Okay, they’re probably dead but you need to slow down. You’ve been trying to run in Crocs for like three minutes.”
I made it to the end. I ran/walked most of the path and It. Was. Far.
And then panic struck again. Where were my kids? Had they already finished the route and walked back the wrong way? Were they still in the water—did I have time to drive my mini-van back and pick them up? What if I jogged back to get the van just as they were getting out of the water and some random weirdo in a shiny, yellow helmet offered them a puppy to get into his car? How can these Crocs not have broken with all of this random running? These shoes are fantastic!
I did run back to get the van but had to stop to help a girl who wiped out on her bike up the hill in front of me. I had Band-Aids and ice packs and napkins and always hope if one of my kids (if they survived the tubing) was ever in a similar situation, someone would stop to help. She was sort of grateful and the park ranger who pulled over eventually was even more so, asking first if I had hit her with my van and then did a double take when my face reminded him of those prosthetics they use in movies.
I made it back to the end of the river and had five grueling minutes to spare while I waited to see if one, two or all three of my kids had completed the course.
If they make it back, I’ll know I made an awesome parenting decision to let them try this adventure on their own. If they make it back but without a shoe or a helmet or a life jacket, deep breath, we can live with that. If one or two but not three make it back, I am emotionally obligated to call the Mom who threw her kid off of the bridge and apologize for being so judgy and then create a joint website with her about stupid things Moms do they will never forgive themselves for—all profits to go to the makers of Crocs (for children).
Guess what? Three kids (not saying whether they are mine or not) made it out alive. There were a few tears and crooked helmets, bruised egos and a half-smile.
And I still look like a chipmunk with a wad of chewing tobacco in my mouth.