Living Columns & Blogs

A most difficult and unexpected challenge

This past weekend my son and I headed to Target.

The goal was a croquet set and a slip and slide. The croquet sets were mysteriously missing, but the slip and slides were plentiful.

In the past, we have had inflatable pools, but my husband invariably complains that the are too hard on the grass, my son complains about the bugs and the slime that grows when the water isn't emptied regularly is just plain nasty.

Despite the age range on the slip and slide being 5+, I thought we would give it a try in our backyard. I remember having great fun on my long yellow plastic slip and slide as a kid. (Even recalling one episode as a teenager when the weather started to turn cool and we — unknowingly to my father — plumbed the slip and slide with hot water straight from the inside tap.)

Wow has the world of slip and slides changed. There were so many designs and options for the slip and slides. I eventually picked out (after vetoing the tunnel with the chomping alligators for $40) a double slide (so my kids can run simultaneously) with inflatable kick-board things for $17. I don’t remember needing the inflatable kick-board things when I was a kid, but they seemed as though they would be kind of helpful now (or maybe that was the adult in me talking).

We brought the slip and slide home, found the battery-operated air-inflator thing (amazing we found that in the mess of boxes to be unpacked still) and set it up. My husband suggested we set it up where there is an ever-so-slight incline in the yard so they could easily slide down. I scoffed — I didn’t think they needed the additional help from gravity.

I slathered my kids up with sunscreen, put their bathing suits on, and we went to the back yard.

They couldn’t quite figure out what to do. They both tip-toed up and down the lanes giggling about the water sprinkling on them.

I showed my son the very deceptive ad on the front of the box with the kids whizzing (on their bellies) down what appears to be a 50-foot sliding lane. He looked intrigued. So he laid on the plastic, belly first, and attempted pushing himself with his toes.

Not surprisingly, he didn’t fly at lightning speeds down the lane.

I spent the next 20 minutes or so trying to explain to run up and lie down on the plastic to absolutely no avail. He ran down and jumped onto his knees (and slid about 6 inches), ran down and then laid down on the plastic (with no momentum behind him)…

Finally my husband came out and did what I was only slightly tempted to do — perform an example slide.

The physics weren’t on his side.

And then we gave up. The kids walked up and down the plastic, treating it like a sprinkler.

A little while later one of his friends arrived. She hadn’t any experience with a slip and slide to this point. Two tries and she was flying down the plastic with water spraying up into her face.

We have finally mastered the slip and slide and it appears to be in the running for “favorite summer water toy."