Today saw the Little Ones and me 'Follow the Frog' as the marketing slogan urges, and make the annual pilgrimage to the Paphos Waterpark. Like the once-in-a-summer trip to the fun-fair, the waterpark excursion is one that I dread, but that I arrange because it brings so much pleasure to my children.
I resent the cost. Adults (that's anyone over 12) pay 29 Euros each, children (3-12) pay 15 Euros, infants enter for free – and that's the off-season rate in September! No food or drink may be brought in, and the price of a meal is high – 12-15 Euros for a burger, chips, drink, and ice-cream. For us to go as a family costs an arm and a leg, so it was with relief that I heard first Best Beloved, then Alex, then Sophia, express no desire to go.
Zenon, Leo, and I arrived at the gates just as they opened at ten this morning with our bags including some water smuggled from home, set up camp under the trees, and spent the rest of the day there.
I am not into places like this. I hate the rides: whizzing down water chutes, spinning through Black Holes, climbing volcanoes that spout water? Not my thing. Floating down the Lazy River in a big yellow ring or splashing in the kiddie pool (the kiddie slide is about the fastest I can cope with) is about my speed, but anything else – forget it. I hate the smell of suncream and the sight of oiled up, sweaty, roasted skin... And queueing for twenty minutes in the sun? No freakin' way...
But when we arrived, I realised that my days of having to deal with all of that is over. I no longer have to follow the Little Ones around and deal with crowds, sunburn, and feeling ill on water-slides: Zeen and Leo can both swim, are big enough to look after themselves, and don't want Mum around twittering at them to 'be careful'! They dumped their towels and sandals and rushed off leaving me to contemplate a whole day's chance to read in the shade: ok, it came with a hefty price tag for entrance and meal, but on balance, my kids had a great time being completely engaged and active – no sitting at the computer or in front of the tv, no bickering, no fights that needed defusing... And Sophia and I spend that much on a morning of 'female bonding' with pedicures, lunch, and such.
I made forays out from under my tree to go with the Boys from time to time to watch them on a ride, or to take pictures. Leo loves the Lily Pads, and Zenon was keen to try diving. Zenon and I shared a ride in a double ring down the Lazy River, and I remembered taking both boys when they were babies (has the waterpark really been open that long?) Leo and I had lunch together, and Zenon went off by himself to eat at a later stage. We shared icecream and sips from the clandestine water bottle.
The lifeguards shooed us out as they started shutting down the pumps at 5 p.m. By then, Leo's teeth were chattering, and even Zenon had had enough. I had made it through the whole of The Way of the Warrior – book one of the Young Samurai series in which Zenon is currently immersed. He had made friends with a boy from England who is leaving tonight but hopes to come back for a visit next year. They traded telephone numbers, and each family headed to its separate car
Next year I will not dread the ritual nearly as much -- might even find myself looking forward to it!