Laughing alone in the kitchen this morning with a slow-motion video running through my head, it was continually replaying a scene from the water park yesterday. Bill was at work and I was at an indoor water park with the Will and Liam. Relaxed in a plastic chair and thinking how nice it is to watch them. No longer needing to hold their hands, protect their faces from the water, protect them from the big kids, or remind them of the safety rules. I watched and worked on extracting pure joy from their faces and pulling it into my reserves. Their smiles filled me up.

As the Dip In Theater for younger kids became more crowded in the early afternoon, there were tons of people to watch. Right in front of me was a family of four. Mom and Dad were sitting in the shallow water as their toddlers maneuvered the slide and splashed around next to them. The parents had very serious faces and looked like they were fulfilling their duty: protecting their children from the big kids and reminding them of the water rules. I didn’t see them smile. Were they worried about their kids? Was this their first visit? Were they in shock over the chaos and noise?

With more people, the area at the bottom of the slides was a bit crazier than in the morning. Will and Liam careened down the slides then rode the gush of water at the bottom where the slide spilled out. Then a boy, not mine, created a new trick: jumping in front of the slide as the kids came down. Then the kids at the top weren’t waiting for the bottom to clear. Then the ones that flew down were congregating at the bottom as the next child burst down and took them out. And suddenly Liam was standing at the bottom of the slide, splashing and giggling. I had been relaxed all day, but this new chaos was interrupting the natural rhythm. I decided to go in and remind Liam to step back before someone took him out.

I saw the “1 foot” sign at the shallow pool’s edge, so I took an athletic, giant stride, leading with my right foot, over the edge. The confusing part was not feeling the bottom of the pool at what should have been the “1-foot” point. And the looks on the serious parents’ faces were full of concern as I nearly landed on their family of four. Think of an orca breaching then falling into the water sideways. I did the latter part of that move. The mom and dad, probably after confirming none of their young were under me, immediately asked if I was OK. I looked from Dad’s tattooed arm three inches from my face to their wide eyes. “Oh, I am fine” – as if I fly through the air like this daily, unharmed. I somehow stood up, which may have been a funnier feat to watch than the actual fall. Trying to disguise a hobble with speed, I continued on course to move Liam away from harm’s way.

Duty done, I gently walked back to the water’s edge. Aha, the water is only a foot deep, but add the wall height and the total step-off was a solid two feet minimum. Back in the viewing arena, I plunked down in my chair, where I took inventory. Grazed right knee. Funny pain in my right toe – it probably took the whole weight of my botched launch/landing.

Quietly trying to control the reddening of my cheeks, I smiled at my boys and made eye contact with no one. Simply sat there repeating the line that has gotten me through many plane rides by myself with Will and Liam crying and screaming, so often right behind the first-class cabin: “I will never see any of these people again.”

Still laughing with a purple toe,