When summer begins, Orlando comes to mind as one way to celebrate the warm season. The parks there are close enough for a two-day escape without making me delirious with the stress that vacations create. There’s no plane ride or an airport involved and I’ll be home again before you can count to three (days).
But there is backlash when you mention SeaWorld. So much so that when I think of SeaWorld, I think of the backlash. Many opponents are upset about how they contain their sea animals and the cruelty of it, but I admit it remains one of my favorite parks to take my kids to during the wide-open summers. I have years of breezy strolling-through-the-park memories from our visits.
There are few lines in SeaWorld; just crowds moving across the park together and finding seats together and oo-ing and ahhh-ing together and getting soaked together before herding off towards another show together.
It’s never been a place of rushing. The crowd moves in unison in the same direction, simplifying the task of walking alongside strollers and determined two year old's wanting to walk outside of mom’s sweaty arms. It makes what could be a long hot day less rushed and chaotic.
When I am tired from the togetherness and walking, we follow the map to the children’s play area. I’m exhausted but my daughter is bubbling with the excess energy she drank up while sitting still during the shows. Our visit last year went the same as it always does; herds, togetherness, feasting, ice-cold watering holes in the summer-heat temperatures, and then the peaceful relaxing playground. But while in my peaceful whatalovelydaythishasbeen haze last year, out of my focus came a woman wearing a SeaWorld shirt screeching at me as she appeared from the shadows of the slides and bridges’ darkness. First just a distant sound but as she came closer, I heard her desperation asking me to tell my daughter not to run on the playground. Did I fall asleep into a funky heatstroke induced dream? I listened intently as she explained, with her dust of distress coming off of her in sprays, why she didn't want my daughter running. There were young ones on the playground that she was worried about and was asking the bigger children not to run.
I wasn't sure how to answer her so instead I watched the angst of her past few days (or years?) come out of her orifices. Puffs of her dust kept coming from her clothes and pores and out of her ears and I watched it settle around her, never touching my sweaty skin.
My daughter now next to me, taking this image in with me, two against one. We were both quiet and intact while Mrs. SeaWorld opened her vents and spewed on us. I let her. I saw it in her eyes and in her hands and her shoulders and in her dust trail. She was spent. How many hours had she been out in the hot sun with 1.2 million children, and for how many days? Also there beside her, still and invisible, were whatever problems she had going on at home. I waited for the frustration and the anger and the nerves and the worry to settle at her feet in front of me.
Quiet, her sad eyes now looked to me for a response, as did my daughters'. My daughter now thinking she was in quantum trouble because she had caused the playground lady to lose herself.
I simply said, “okay.” Mrs. SeaWorld was expecting my sympathy and rebuttal but I was still in my peaceful slumber looking through her cloud of spent dust and wanting her to feel better. She blinked the fog from her eyes and found herself standing alone in her gloom. She squirmed her explanation of her concern for the little ones one more time before lunging off to monitor a playground full of children at full throttle.
I looked to my confused daughter, who was open-mouthed curious of the next words out of my mouth. “You’re fine, hon. Don’t let her ruin your fun.”
She decompressed after I spoke, then felt safe to judge and convict the playground woman and her silly request. I realized that she didn't see the same woman as I had so I explained that she was probably ready for a break (or a vacation) and that staying on the other end of the playground was a good idea. Its vastness would make that easy and would allow me to go back to my peaceful state.
Mrs. SeaWorld has never left my thoughts completely. She always revisits when thoughts of Sea World and backlash do. Maybe I could have said something to comfort her. I could have asked her to sit down and talk, or offered to get her some water, but I think she got what she needed. An “okay.”
As she walked away with her own thoughts and feelings about what had happened, she has probably never forgotten that day either. I hope that it’s a moment in time that she can forgive herself of. Life can trip us up sometimes, but if we wait for the dust to settle, we'll see clearly again.Follow Katherine on her Twitter account @BeingAWoman for her #DailyChallenge that can make life less of a challenge. 🙂 Read an excerpt from her book by following this link and clicking on the book image. ~