Sheltered Islander: Parental Guide to Water Park Survival

As we enter summer, hundreds of kind-hearted, child-loving but delusional parents all over the East End will be taking their precious children to water parks. They envision a wonderful family day with well-behaved children who wait patiently in long lines and speak politely to others—including their parents. And at the end of the long day, on the long ride home, the children say, “Gee, Mom and Dad, we had such a wonderful day. Thank you for spending your hard-earned money on us so we could have a cherished family memory.” Ahh…the dream never dies. But just in case the day doesn’t go as planned, here’s a few tips on how to survive a day at the water park.

1. The level of aggravation you experience at a water park is directly proportional to the amount of alcohol you consume. Make a thermos or two of daiquiris. Plus, use a syringe to inject vodka into half a dozen fresh oranges. If the kids get way out of hand, sit down, give them them virgin oranges and have a vodka orange. That will dull the aggravation, and you will look like a politically correct, nutritionally conscious parent giving your young children oranges instead of junk food from the concession.

2. Do not buy all those expensive sunscreen lotions. The kids hate them and fight with you when you call them over to reapply. Cheap T-shirts and a jar of Noxzema is all they need. The fact that Mom’s expensive makeup is being melted off in the hot sun and her hair will look like hell at the end of the day is enough of a sacrifice.

3. Hire a babysitter. Whatever she charges, it’s worth it. Leave her and the kids at the gate. Tell her she just has to show up at the exit in six hours with the same kids, preferably alive, and you will consider her job well done.

4. Based on the fact that your kids are always good for other parents and vice versa, find another set of parents in the water park, with the same-aged children, who seem like nice people. Talk to them and arrange a swap. You take their kids home with you, and they take yours. You both meet back at the same water park on the same day next year and swap kids again. Sometimes, to be an effective parent, you can’t stop at thinking outside the box, you have to think outside the bouncy house.

5. If you don’t mind looking silly, here are a few things you can do to ensure that your next water park trip will be your last: Don’t bring enough money for snacks. Embarrass your kids by getting stuck sideways in the water slide tube. Be the only parent in the whole park who needs the lifeguard to get out of the three-foot deep pool. Be the parent who stands up in the pool just as their old bathing suit gives out and stays in the pool behind them. Do these things correctly and the children will never want to go to another water park with you again.

6. One very old but tried-and-true way to deal with the water park is to fake the kids out. Claim car trouble on the way to the park. Appease the critters by driving to the nearest drive-through fast food place and get them their Happy Meal of choice. Next, go to the nearest store and buy a Slip ’N Slide, a large box of ice pops, and a few packs of hot dogs. Set up the Slip ’N Slide in your backyard, and stuff them with hot dogs and ice pops until they pass out. After this, as the last one falls, you may declare victory.

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