Mrs. Gore Slips and Slides (and pays for it the next day)

A couple of weeks ago, after a full season of photographed birthday parties and social gatherings, wherein our clothing was carefully chosen and our hair was meticulously groomed, I made a total departure.

Total.

Departure.

No cameras and no other adults around, I made an unprecedented decision, and wearing my super-awesome matronly swim dress…from you guessed it, Dillard’s (complete with “waist cinchers” and “hip slimmers”)…I spent the afternoon playing on the Slip n’ Slide with my children and 3 nieces.

It was my 2nd time ever to “play” on a Slip n’ Slide.

If I haven’t told you 54 times already, I am the baby of the family, as well as the only girl. Thus, by the time I had arrived in the Slip n’ Slide stage of life, ours was all ratty and tatty and had been slightly eaten by mice in the garage. When we did pull it out for birthday parties, it was teeming with reckless pre-teen boys, and my timidity and fear (and good common sense!) kept me safely in the house with my Mama.

That’s why I was 22 years old before I ever had the opportunity or the inclination to partake in any kind of  Slip n’ Slide fun.

{would this also be a good time to confess that I never learned to ride a bike? No? Okay. Some other time.}

My cousin’s elementary-aged boys were visiting that summer, and although my parents were hosting them, it was my job to keep them entertained during those long summer days in the middle of nowhere. Setting up a fancy new Slip n’ Slide my Mom had purchased just for them, I watched them make a few runs, and then, in a moment of spontaneity and perhaps a bit of unfulfilled childhood longing, I thought I’d finally give it a try.

Their cheers for me echoed through the distance as I made my stance and set my eye on the target. “Go!” I yelled in my head, and my legs began to run toward the long, yellow plastic runway, crunchy heat-scorched Oklahoma grass breaking underneath my bare feet with every heavy step I took (I’m dense in more ways than one). Reaching the Slip n’ Slide, I lunged, and jumping into the air, I flew

and landed with a thunk, flat on my stomach, the rain-thirsty Oklahoma ground beneath me as rock hard as my skull.

The same skull that I could feel my brain rattling around in as I laid there on the Slip n’ Slide in acute discomfort, vowing never to come near one again.

But it’s true…time has a way of healing all wounds…and Momnesia has obviously made me an absolute lunatic…so when I saw my kids suiting up to go play in the water at my Mom’s house this summer, some kind of madness overtook me. I felt young. I felt spontaneous. I felt charitable, and I didn’t care one whip if my hair got wet or if my cellulite made an appearance.

The kids stared at me, aghast, when they saw me come outside in my bathing suit, not because I was huge or weird looking or an uninvited guest, but because…I was a grown-up.

“You’re swimming?!” my 8-year old niece, Abigail exclaimed, a smile of disbelief lighting up her face.

“Yes!” I replied, with a laugh, which was soon echoed by all the kids as they gathered around me, the novelty of having someone who usually sits in a rocking chair while they swim dare to venture across that secret boundary that keeps kids in the pool and grown-ups comfortable and, most importantly, dry.

“Come on!” they shouted in a cacophany of young voices, 5 sets of hands pulling me toward the Slip n’ Slide.

But I needed to buy some time. Stagefright had set in and I wasn’t ready yet.

“So how do you do this thing?” I asked tentatively.

They gladly demonstrated, each child explaining to me the hows and whens of the Slip n’ Slide, and before I knew it, ready or not, it was my turn.

I stood in position and stared at the obstacle before me. Gee, it looked like fun with its runway of sprinklers on either side and the little pool at the end surrounded by a soft, inflatable ledge …

But it was so far down on the ground. And I felt so stinkin’ tall, the Goliath of the party…no, scratch that….I was the more like the big dumb giant on “Mickey and the Beanstalk”…

“How do I get from here to there?” I calculated in my mind.

But then the encouraging chants of the Lilliputians around me did their magic, and I was off like a retired racehorse, running…and praying…and positively flinching at the thought of having my brain rattle inside my skull like it did 8 summers ago.

Well…the result of my fear and over-thought resulted in a truly sad display of old-lady Slip-n-Slidery, an awkward slide/fall/lying-down/roll that eventually landed me at the finish line, freezing, exposed, and perhaps bruised…but I had done it, and my brain was still resting comfortably inside my spacious skull. As the children swooped down next to me on the Slip n’ Slide, a well of laughter bubbled up from my soul, and mingled with their happy giggles.

“Help her up!” Abigail said, and I felt those 5 sets of hands on my bottom, hoisting me up like I was truly ancient. It amused me to realize exactly how old these kiddos thought I was…and didn’t I feel the same way about my own Mom until I had children of my own?

I took a moment to glance at the expressions on the faces of my own children to gauge what they were thinking of their silly Mama, and what I saw there completely made my day: Gideon was obviously excited, a huge smile lighting up his entire face. But Rebekah’s smile was one of pride and a little bit of wonder, and I noticed that she kept sidling up next to me to hold my hand and partake in the fun right alongside me.

This observation must have spurred me on, and the childish mentality that had overtaken me that strange summer day said “That was fun! I wanna do it again…”

And so I did.

Over and over and over again.

Sometimes I ran and slid with the kids, sometimes I performed alone while they cheered for me, sometimes I stood and threw them down the runway like little rocketships, and finally, I just sat down on the Slip n’ Slide and, instructing the kids to grab my wrists and my ankles, allowed them to pull me all the way down to the end.

I can’t recall ever having so much fun swimming in my entire lifetime of memories.

But there are 2 morals to this story:

1. To my dear young ladies who feel self-conscious in a swimming suit, there is a bright future ahead for you – someday (sooner than you think), you’ll be flopping around on a Slip n’ Slide like a beached whale and won’t care a bit about all your wibblies and wobblies. Because no matter what you look like, you’ll be the most popular girl at the party.

2. The Biblical truth of reaping and sowing applies even to Slip n’ Slides. In this particular instance, the sowing was full of unparalleled excitement and joy; the reaping, however, was 100 degrees of painful. Meaning, I had my fun on Slip n’ Slide Day…but I couldn’t move for 3 days afterward. Pain. Muscle soreness. Headaches. Aches ALL over. Ouch.

Thankfully, there was no permanent damage, and my ego was soaring so high from the sowing that I was able to keep my temporary pain in perspective. But once I was able to move again, I mozied back over to my comfortable rocking chair on swimming days, especially after it was pointed out to me that there there is an age recommendation on the Slip n’ Slide box: ages 6 – 12. So that explains it.

I suppose my Slip n’ Slide days are over.

Now maybe I should see about riding that bike….

6 thoughts on “Mrs. Gore Slips and Slides (and pays for it the next day)

  1. I was chuckling throughout this entire post (even though I already knew the story – an attribute to your fabulous writing skills), but the age recommendation got me for sure. So funny! Also, beached whale my behind. You’re so incredibly gorgeous!

  2. Oh SO MUCH FUN!!! I was laughing and giggling and -girl, I know all about those waist cinchers, etc – but I had a blast vicariously playing on the slip and slide – and I’m 51!!! so thanks for that! Love you, love you, love you all!!!! Isn’t it amazing the look of admiration on our little girls’ faces when we do something they haven’t yet quite mastered (or don’t care to)? My Hannah is 12 and she still proudly tells anyone who will listen — my mama plays Mario!!! Thank you for your beautifully detailed stories of your family – they encourage me.

  3. Dear Mrs. Gore, this has got to be my most favorite post of all times !!!! Haven’t we all felt like this at one time or another and depending on your age probably more often than we care to admit. Keep playing, life is short here on this earth and the memories that you “all” are making are priceless !!!!!

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