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by C. Jeanette Tyson

The other day I did something stupid and said, out loud, where is my head? To which my daughter Maddy replied, you left it in the kitchen.

I seem to be doing a lot of that lately. 

Exhibit A: A trip to an amusement park in August in Texas with two five-year-old’s. Currently, according to my personal cranky barometer, it’s a hundred and ninety-two in the shade, if you can find any. Georgia asphalt doesn’t begin to describe it. I hear people talking about the Austin City Limits Festival and I think I wouldn’t go stand in Zilker Park for three long, dusty days if Bob Schneider himself pushed a ticket down my bra with his tongue. (oops, is this a family site?) My damn palm tree is dying, it’s so hot.

And amusement parks -- aren’t they generally paved with the aforementioned asphalt and crowded with thousands of large, sweating bodies trailed by squalls of small, sweating bodies?

Where was my head?

Was it back in my own childhood, remembering trips to the small yet popular water park where we rode plastic logs down water-filled chutes and most of the fun was being soaking wet and walking around that way for much of the day? There were the usual hot dogs and long lines but also a certain pride earned with squishy shoes.

Was my head in the office, where a heavy load of summer projects had scuttled my plans for a week-long August ascent into someplace cool, dry and high, like Idaho, or maybe Wyoming?

Was it in a lawyer’s office, where a couple of policy-bound yahoo’s decided that for the next eighteen years the exact dates of my summer vacation had to be decided in March?

Nostalgia, guilt and rebellion are a volatile mix. And did I mention it was a hundred and ninety-two? 

I took the kiddos to Sea World. First we saw the Clydesdales. Maddy is currently in her horsy phase and didn’t question the fact that they were the only animals in the park that couldn’t breathe under water. So I didn’t have to explain the whole Anheiser Busch thing.  

Then we saw the dolphin show. This was the big hit for my son, Jackson. The show had a plot. It was funny. The performances were flawless. Maybe he has a future in small, independent film-making. 

Then, of course, we saw Shamu. Ah, Shamu, the killer whale so talented it can be in three states at once. Interestingly enough, when telling people about our trip, the first thing they want to know is whether we got splashed. See what I mean about squishy shoes? It’s a badge of honor, mama. The answer is no. I was completely thrilled to be able to just walk straight into the show without waiting and see other people get splashed. And my kids didn’t know any better. 

So the only thing that got wet was my eyes. Not really. Well, a little. I mean, all that killer instinct pirouetting on a pimply teen’s whistle…how does that happen? As a mother I wouldn’t promote swimming alongside a mass of nerve endings with sharp teeth. But then, perhaps, I am among the throngs who misunderstand. Because there is real, earnest bonding that goes on, according to the accompanying slide show. All cynicism aside, I thought it was pretty amazing, even if it wasn’t funny.

After that there were penquins, popcorn, sharks, ice cream, a ski show, more dolphins and comparison shopping at the many souvenir shops.  

My kids, who I applaud for being generally very game, lasted about five hours. Then we skeedaddled across the freeway to the Hill Country Hyatt.  

Consider this resort the bouncy seat of the post-toddler set, the thing that’s not only going to rescue you from insanity but, dare I say, make your life seem enchanted.  

Let me first say that, although the hotel, golf course and spa are quite lovely, this is definitely not the place I would choose for a romantic assignation.  

But with the kids, it’s incredible. First, everybody’s kids are screaming up and down the halls at all hours, not just yours. There are hayrides and s’mores in the evenings and family movies shown on the lawn every night.  

By day, there is the Hyatt camp, which will keep the kids busy while you’re having your back rubbed or your swing analyzed or your toes painted.  

Maddy got her hair corn-rowed; if only I’d thought of that at the beginning of summer. Jackson passed on the face-painting. 

But the main attraction is the four-acre water park, and mainly the Lazy River, a circling current of water that sweeps everyone along in a friendly LA freeway kind of way. Tubes float randomly. You just grab one, then lift your feet and loft your beer. After a few rounds of this, my kids decided they preferred being swept along without the tubes. We would go around and around and around the loop until I called a dizzy time-out. Maddy and Jackson then jumped from the cool river to the hot tub. (I wonder, sometimes, just what little things will be left to amaze them when they’re of some kind of age.)  

When we weren’t floating, hayriding or having Maddy’s hair done, we hung out in our bathing suits and played cards. And ordered room service. Kids love the exoticism of room service and eating on the bed. I like it, too. The food wasn’t all that terrific but it was terrifically kid-thoughtful.  

Our August holiday was short, a mere two days. But it was awfully sweet. We got plenty wet.  

And when we had to leave, the kids cried Shamu-sized tears.  
C. Jeanette Tyson is a freelance writer and mother to Maddy and Jackson. Her award-winning branding and advertising work can be seen at thethinkkitchen.com



I I I I I I I  

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