Fear and Loathing at Calypso

by Allison We've been sticking close to Ottawa this summer due to my son playing competitive (read: constant) baseball.  My husband had the week off this week, so we planned a couple of activities with the kids, including going here. This would be our grand family adventure, our glorious summer pilgrimage. We would arrive early, we would leave late. We would laugh mockingly as we defied  gravity and tighten our sphincters in the face of danger. It was going to be epic.

Did I mention that my kids are totally lame?

Okay, that's unfair. They're not daredevils, they've never been daredevils, I have no grounds for expecting them to be daredevils. The distinctly un-epic nature of this adventure was a combination of the unknowable and the unfortunate. I thought the park might have some slides that fell somewhere between zebra-striped four-foot-long kiddy rides and scream-til-your-throat-bleeds gut-wrenchers. But it really didn't. Unless your seven and ten year old are adrenaline-junkie thrill-seekers (which I realize a good number of them are), there just isn't a lot for them there. I have a policy where once a year or so I push the kids to do something that scares them because I know how great it feels once you do it. This policy went horribly wrong in the Midway-Octopus-Ride Incident of '07, (and don't think Eve failed to bring that up today), but usually it works out splendidly. So there we were in the lineup for the Canyon Rafting ride, because we could all go together and hey, four family members in a raft, what could go wrong? Okay, it was a little embarrassing standing there with Eve sobbing in terror while I patted her back saying 'it'll be fine, it'll be fine', and then Angus said 'my stomach feels a little sick' which is not-terribly-sophisticated code for 'actually I just realized I'm scared crapless', but we persevered! We stuck it out! We stooped to the ignominious level of telling them how much it cost to get us all in here and chucking them in the raft and hoping they'd be too scared to complain on the way down.

It was... okay. It was less of a fiasco than the Octopus Ride Incident. However, Eve was most emphatically done after that. We  spent a bit of time in the wave pool and had our picnic.  We went down the Jungle Run a few times, which was lovely. Then Angus said he would go down the Fast Track with me. Halfway up the stairs I realized he had really just said it to make me happy and was wearing his 'I'm approaching the steps to the guillotine' expression, so I told him I had already pushed him to do one thing today and I wasn't going to do it again, but I really hoped he would do it because I knew he'd enjoy it and feel great after. So of course he gritted his teeth and conquered his fear and loved me for it, right? Oh hell no, I went down that sucker ALL BY MYSELF.

Also, note to self? Don't use Neutrogena sunscreen next time. We got home and Eve looked at me and said "you got sunburned, Sister. I mean... Mother."

Oh well. It was an adventure. Of sorts. I did eventually apologize for tossing around the word 'wussy' a little extravagantly ("How can you call me that? You're my mother!" "I know. I'm the mother of a couple of WUSSIES.") Truthfully, I wouldn't have done any of that stuff when I was their age either. Thankfully, it never would have occurred to my parents to spend that unholy amount of money in order to give me that opportunity. It's not my kids' fault we clearly have too much disposable income.

A few people told me they have heard nothing but negative reviews of Calypso.  I don't know -- the weather was great when we went and it wasn't too crowded.  If my kids had actually been willing to go on any slides, it would have been a great day, nearly worth the admittedly high price.  I would advise buying tickets online to skip the ticket line-up, remembering to bring cash for the parking (which I agree with everyone is stupid), and packing a cooler which you can leave by the wave pool, since on-site food is naturally overpriced.  And only bring your kids if they're the kind who laugh in the face of danger.  My kids tend to prefer to paint pink hearts on the face of danger and invite it home to watch Vacation With Derek.

Tomorrow? They can play with the hose in the front yard. Safe, unthreatening and free.

Allison occasionally looks up from her book to parent her two children.  She blogs over at Bibliomama.