We took our kids to Sea World this summer, partially because we wanted our kids to love us more. In our minds, we were going to go to Sea World, and see the animals splashing around joyfully, and our kids were going to smile and hug us, and tell us how thankful they were that we were their parents. We were all going to hold hands as we walked around the park, and at the end of the day we would share an ice cream shaped like a dolphin and talk about all of our favorite things from the day.
Unfortunately, it didn’t work out that way. My daughter didn’t want to share her $9 drink with my son, so they argued about that for most of the day. My daughter also wanted to by a $30 stuffed dolphin that you can buy at Walmart for $5, so she could take it home and lose it in her closet. My son didn’t want to ride in the stroller, he either wanted to run around the park uninhibited or he wanted someone to hold him. Whenever he was being held, my 6 year old wanted to be held too. If you haven’t ever walked around a crowded park in 100 degree weather holding two children I highly recommend it. It’s an amazing experience. You will sweat in places that you didn’t know produced sweat, and eventually, the combination of three people in a confined space sweating, will lead to your bodies sticking together, which will lead to all of you being hotter, which will lead to more mysteriously located sweat.
The most frustrating thing for me about the trip, was when we went to the dolphin show. If you’ve never been to Sea World, there is a seating area right up front near the gigantic tank where the show takes place, called the Splash Zone. The seats have little signs on them letting you know that if you sit in this area, you will get wet. This was going to solve all of our issues. We got there early because there is limited seating in the Splash Zone. We would be able to cool off, the kids would be immersed in the Sea World experience, and we would post pictures on Facebook with all of us soaking wet, smiling, and hugging each other, and everyone would know that we were great parents and that our children loved us.
Me and my son sat down in the splash zone, and I waited for all of my parenting dreams to come true. Then, with about 5 minutes left before the show began, my son started complaining and we had to move. We sat in the middle of the bleachers, in the beating sun, with no chance of getting wet. I watched in disappointment as all of the people in the Splash Zone got wet when the dolphins did their tricks. From where we were we couldn’t see under the water like we could have if we’d sat up front in the Splash Zone, so we didn’t get to see “behind the scenes” as the dolphins swam and played and prepared for their jumps. My kids were too worried about getting wet, so we watched the show from a distance, like most everyone else, but in my mind, we didn’t really experience it.
I encourage you to find ways to get into the Splash Zone in your life. It’s much better to experience things than it is to watch them like everyone else around you. You might have to walk around wet for awhile, and it might be a little uncomfortable at times. You may have to get there early, and wait more than others, but it will be worth it. An experience is much more valuable than a viewing, and I think too many of us are watching life, rather than participating in the show.
Sit up front in class, ask a question, ask another question, be the first one to arrive and get some extra reps or some face time with someone you respect at work, go on an adventure, risk something, speak the truth even when it is awkward, try something that makes you uncomfortable in an effort to grow. Get in the Splash Zone.
(PS, please know I’m mostly joking about my experience with my children at Sea World. Mostly)