The school year is almost over for James, and today was Splash Day. He has waited all year for this day to come, and has been especially excited since the salesman at Stride Rite said the new sandals he tried on could be worn in water, "like for Splash Day at school." Nice little sales tactic there, by the way.
This morning, James jumped out of bed and asked for his swim trunks and his sandals. He could not wait to get to school and splash, whatever that might entail. So we left happily in anticipation of a wonderful day, with the promise of summer waiting just around the corner.
And then we saw it, the gigantic, inflatable water slide with a pool at the bottom, parked in the middle of the church's basketball court, just waiting for its littlest victims. James kept a brave face and seemed excited by the slide, but I, if I'm being honest, immediately felt a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach.
See, James hates jumping castles and inflatable things. Whether it's their size or the noise, or a combination of both, he has never had any desire to climb inside one and start jumping, the way most kids are drawn to them. We get invitations to play dates and birthday parties at jumping places quite often, and sometimes we go, and sometimes we don't. When we do attend, James and Rhys hang around my ankles for an hour while I half-heartedly attempt to coax them inside a jumping castle. It's not any fun for me, with sweaty, screaming children, loud music blaring, and that funny feet smell you always encounter, so I kind of get why they don't really like the experience. Add water to that combination, and it's a lot for a little guy to endure. Still, I feigned excitement and left James with his classmates, half expecting a call to come pick him up early.
When I returned at the end of the day, his teacher immediately, and with some surprise in her voice, let me know that James did not enjoy Splash Day at all. She was able to coax him down the slide exactly once, but then he refused to play in the pool at the bottom and did not want to run through the sprinklers with his classmates. Instead, he chose to sit on his towel and watch.
And you know what? That's okay. I'm proud of James for trying the slide, because it looked really high and he must have been terrified. He was able to conquer his fear long enough to try it and decide that it wasn't for him, and I think that's an honorable thing to do. He didn't cry or throw a tantrum, but just sat out, in his quiet way, much like me when I was little.
I was the kid who had training wheels way past everyone else, who held onto the wall at Skateland birthday parties, and who was terrified of learning to drive. Pools are not my thing, either, and swimsuit season doesn't bother me in the least because I just don't buy one. I turned out okay (I think?), even if I do march to a drum that nobody else can hear.
James did what he wanted to do, and was confident in his decision. I can respect his wishes, and I told him he can skip Splash Day next year if he really wants to. No harm done.
When Ryan came home tonight, he asked James how his day was, and he said, "Great! I didn't like the slide." Just like that.
He's over it already and looking forward to his last day of school.