Sliding Into Fun

“I’ll hold your hand mommy. It can be scary to walk across the net. Try not to look down.”

I bend over sideways to hold my five-year-old’s hand and awkwardly walk across a net 100 feet in the air, all while staring at the sky so as to avoid height-induced vertigo.

“We’re almost at the other side mommy! Good job!”

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My husband took my daughter to the Malahat Skywalk for a Pro-D Day and she came back bouncing up and down.

“The slide is so fun! I was sad you weren’t there.”

So, we went again, as a family, so she could show me the cute wooden bear in the forest below the pathway, the amazing view of the Salish Sea, the aforementioned “adventure net” at the top of the structure and, of course, the 20-metre twisty slide she raved about. I heard about the Skywalk slide. The slide she loved was one of the reasons I hadn’t visited the attraction yet. Heights and adrenaline are not exactly… my thing.

When we arrived, I saw that the slide started halfway down the structure.

“Oh that doesn’t look so bad,” I thought. Until we walked to the top, did several five-year-old-designed “challenges” across the net and waited in the long-weekend-sized line up listening to people scream as they went down the “so fun” slide.

My husband offered to hold our spot in line while we headed down to the playground, a welcome distraction and a chance to release a nervous pee. The mood at the bottom of the Skywalk was festive: there was a band, a campfire, hot dogs and ice cream for sale.

My daughter had a great time climbing on the beams on the playground. Then I got the text from my husband that it was almost our turn, and we ran up, my daughter giddy with excitement and my heart pounding.

I looked over to the sign “If you are uncomfortable in confined spaces or rapid tilting, you should not participate in the spiral slide.” The words “YOU WILL SLIDE AT HIGH SPEEDS!” were highlighted in all caps. I couldn’t exactly plead ignorance now.

I asked to go first to get it over with. My daughter coached me saying “this is amazing yay yay yay!”

I practiced my mantra in line. “This is amazing yay yay yay. This is amazing yay yay yay.”

“Okay,” I thought to myself, “If I say that line, I’ll be down by the time the phrase is complete. It’s only supposed to take eight to 10 seconds.”

I sat down at the mouth of the metal tunnel, placed my feet in the mat, and scooted myself down the descent as my daughter cheered from behind “Go mommy!”

As I sped down the slide, I repeated her mantra. “thisisamazingyayyayyay, thisisamazingyayyayyay, thisisamazingyayyayyay.” I was still not down. How many times would I have to repeat this phrase? “…thisisamazingyayyayyay, thisisama..”

The light opened above me, and I looked up relieved at the attendant beside me.

I had done it. I made it down the slide. I hopped out and pulled out my iPhone, ready to capture my daughter eight to 10 seconds after my exit. I caught her exhilarated smile as she hopped out and gave me a hug.

“That was so fun! You did it mommy!”

“Let’s film dada now,” I suggested.

We both crouched down at the base of the slide and turned on video mode to record dada’s “whoaoaoaoaoaoaoaoaoaoaoaoao” all the way down.

“Ice cream!” my daughter yelled as she ran off to the concession. And my husband and I trailed behind at our glacial adult pace.

“Yeah, next time I’m walking down,” I muttered under my breath.

Sometimes it’s hard to know what lessons to teach our kids. Should I have taught her to listen to your gut and not have tried the slide? To follow directions by obeying the sign and its warning that it was not meant for people like me? Was I right to show her that going outside your comfort zone is sometimes worthwhile?

That day, I decided to put on my big girl pants, take a deep breath and join in my daughter’s excitement. To do something I never would have done without her insistence and kindergarten-aged coaching. I took the leap and slid into fun.

Julia Mais
Julia Mais
Julia Mais is a policy and communications professional in Victoria B.C. She looks for beauty in the everyday through writing, photography and the outdoors. She lives in a messy, cheese-filled home with her husband and young child.