What did I do for my birthday? I took my kids to the Atlantis Water Park in Clarkesville, Indiana, 17 minutes from my front door, wearing my two piece bathing suit with the brown and pink spaghetti-strap top and the brown mid-thigh swim skirt. And no...that's not me in the photo.
We rented a tube and went to the lockers to put our things away. I was expecting a coin-operated locker, but instead saw that tiny padlocks were affixed to each locker. As I went back to the booth, I noticed a old man sitting next to a box that had a sign on it for lock rentals.
"I bet you don't take credit cards," I said. "Can I pay at the ticket window?" He held up his hand, motioning me to wait while he helped a couple in front of him. When he was done, he gestured with his fingers to approach.
As I got closer, he began rummaging in his box for the lock and said, "We don't want you to go through that trouble. What's your name?" Then he proceeded to just hand me the lock and record my name with the lock number. After we were done at the park, I handed the person at the box the padlock and key, and turned to walk to the car, when the person stopped me with, "Wait, you get this back," and handed me two dollars. Dazed, I vaguely remembered a deposit, was glad to get it back and replied, "Thanks, I almost forgot." As we got to the car, I realized that it was a mistake, because I didn't pay the deposit in the first place, and I had no way of returning it without getting someone nice in trouble.
The park was fun. My seven year-old was quite a bit upset about not getting to go down the big slide, because she has to stand on her toes to pass the height test. Her older sister encouraged me to go while she played with her in the Kiddie Pool. Then it was my turn, while my 12-year old went down the tube slides and I splashed across the pool with my youngest. As my daughter was backing her way to the life guard, I noticed that I was inadvertently giving him cleavage views as I was reaching down with my hands to splash. I can only imagine what he must have been thinking as my daughter raced by him to the slide calling me "Dad!"
Then there was the wave pool. We spent practically all our time hanging out in the rolling surf. Finally, when I had enough and was waiting on my girls, I dried out in the hot bright sun on the deck chairs and then headed to the shade by the lockers to put on my brown top and brush out my hair. Meanwhile, a young man sitting in a deck chair was obviously filming me on his cell phone from just a few feet away.
Once the kids finally tired, about 15 minutes before the park closed, we drove to downtown Louisville to drive slowly past the Louisville Slugger. Then, on a phone call from my wife, we finally found a Vietnamese restaurant (La Que) and grabbed a combination pho to take home.
Meanwhile, my mother had called to wish me Happy Birthday, Shirley had called to invite me out to the club and Brandi, DeeDee and Braneisha had left Happy Birthday balloons with their names on them and a card on my apartment door. She called to make sure I got them. When she started to come by the apartment later after 9, I happened to see her as I was closing the windows. She came over and we chatted at the window for a little while and she promised we would get our time together later, understanding that my focus is on my kids while they are here.
Tuesday night, it was a pleasant surprise to watch Despicable Me in 3D with my children for the low price of 6 dollars a ticket each, because, apparently, Tuesdays at the Rave are Super Tuesdays and every movie all day is only 6 dollars.
Finally, I got a chance to talk with my daughter about the great parts of having a "Girl Dad." I explained that she has a very special "Girl Dad," that most girls don't get to experience. I enjoy doing nails and makeup with her, going shopping and just talking about whatever. She didn't lose her Dad. When we were done, she was grinning from ear-to-ear. She was back.
And I got some good bonding time with my older daughter as well, mostly through trusting her with spots of independence in the park while I took care of her little sister, playing together in the wave pool and just watching the two them have a really good time.
And I have a ton of Birthday Wishes on Facebook, and they started coming in faster than I could reply to them all. I still owe a few Thank Yous.