A couple weekends ago, we played tourist with my parents, traveling through through Wahiawa, the North Shore, ending at Kailua Beach. It just so happened that Madison and I spotted a few playgrounds (ones that weren’t identical to the ones at CORP and several other places on the island) that day. I casually mentioned that it might be nice to visit those playgrounds one day. Well, that day came today.
We drove with the ocean on our left and everything else on the right. “Look out for playgrounds,” I told Madison. She clutched her Ziploc bag of strawberry shredded wheat with her left hand and looked out the window on her right. “A playground!” Madison shouted. Ironically, the first playground she eyed was the Oahu Special. Luckily for us, it was only one of three playgrounds on the campus. The one Madison found was unlike any other we’d seen before, and of course, that’s what the Playground Tour is all about.
Madison’s a big fan of cargo nets. Perhaps this affinity finds its origins in our repeated viewings of American Ninja Warrior. Maybe it has grown through experience like at SeaWorld’s playground. While she said that her favorite aspect of this playground was the spinner, she spent the most time climbing on the cargo net. In addition, there was a metal slide, one of these climbing deals on the left, but sadly, no fireman’s pole. I had the camera on video mode whenever Madison got onto the spinner. I was hoping to capture her coming off the spinner dizzy. It was my hope that she would take two disoriented steps and crash into the earth in the most hilarious way possible, thus affording me the chance to challenge for America’s Funniest Home Videos’ monetary prize. Though in 2013, I suppose I would have to settle for a thousand likes on Instagram, YouTube, or Facebook. Attention is the new currency. Sadly, though perhaps for the best, Madison did not get dizzy enough to plow into the soft play surface. Madison and I played for twenty minutes or so before moving on towards the next playground. “I love that spinner,” Madison said. “Next time you have to get mom on it,” I said. “Yeah, yeah!” she said. Lynnette might simultaneously break the spinner and the record for unintentional comedy by a mother-daughter team.
Our next stop was Laie Elementary. At least that’s what I think it was. I don’t know. Madison just yelled at me from the backseat and I took the next right. I cannot overstate the importance of having the ocean on the left and everything else on the right. It just makes things a billion times easier. I pulled off Kamehameha Highway and into the circle near the Mormon temple. We parked the car in the shade and had to walk through the school to get to the playground Madison saw from the main road.
There were no slides, no monkey bars, no fireman’s pole. It was just a metal and plastic semi-circle with a spider web made out of cargo net. Life just works out sometimes. Madison took to the net with aplomb, and though she probably would have preferred shoes and something to tie back her hair, she never complained. Who knows, maybe she liked the added degree of difficulty.
Since there wasn’t much to this set, Madison only climbed across it four or so times before we made our way back through the school. We stopped at several other play sets, but I wouldn’t classify them as adventurous. I was just getting warmed up, but a few miles after we got back on the road, Madison said she wanted to go to the beach already. This kind of bummed me out because I was positive there were at least two more playgrounds before Kaneohe. Still, it was nearing midday and we hadn’t eaten lunch yet. My guess was that Mad really wanted to surf.
We ended up at Kailua Beach (as per the recent usual) and came up against three challenges. It was cloudy. It was extremely windy. The water was rough. We gave it a go anyway, and our go didn’t last for very long.
From the rise above the shore, the water looked rougher than usual. At first, I thought that it might have only appeared rougher because we had been to Ko’olina last weekend. Eventually, the sound of the shore break convinced me that it actually was more violent than in weeks past. Madison tried to get on the boogie board, but we struggled to get out past the crests of the shore break. It was a few steps short of a fisaco – Madison screaming while the waves pushed the nose of the board into her face, one of my hands on the board, the other on Mad’s back. “I want to go back to the sand,” Madison said after she caught a wave in the face. We rode a wave in and she screamed the whole way.
Mad put on her tube and we got right back in the water. Madison was able to stay above the water this way, and kicked out away from me. Since I basically just try to keep Madison between myself and the shore I let her drift towards the sand. Well, she was in the wrong place at the wrong time. She got in front of a wave as it crested and it swallowed her. I could see her suit through the sand and white wash and got there just in time to steady her as she stood. I wasn’t too frightened since she succeeded in the pool yesterday, but her spirit was taken down a few notches. “Why is it so rough today?” she asked, wiping water from her face. “I don’t know,” I said. “We can just stay here a short time,” she said. And we did.
We ate lunch at that center adjacent to the district park. Madison pounded a fruit bowl from Aloha Salads and I got a cheesesteak from Pepper’s Place. “Hey dad, I love you,” she said, after swallowing a strawberry. “I love you too,” I said. “Can we look around the stores here after we eat?” she asked. I knew it! “Yes, sweetie, we have some time,” I said. She smiled in the way that makes her eyes almost disappear. The way that makes her look so much like her mother. She rotated between her fruits and my fries and we enjoyed a nice lunch which Lynnette would later be jealous of over Instagram. Instagram: Lots of pictures of food, but also bringing families together.
We emerged from the Tetsuo Harano and I shouted “What? Samurai, Mad?” “What did you say?” she said. “Samurai!” I repeated. “Why are you yelling?” she asked. Honestly? I really wanted Samurai’s soft-serve. “Um, not yet,” she said. I got the impression she didn’t quite know what I was talking about. When we pulled into a stall in front of Times and Samurai, she figured it out. “Let’s go to the snack store and get something for you and something for me,” she said. “Samurai!” I shouted. “Samurai!” she called back. She picked Bubble Tape. She saw my soft-serve being made and said “I can share with you, too.” Shocker.
When we finally got home, we showered, I did a load of pool/beach laundry, and then something amazing happened. Mad took a nap! Sure, her fort had to remain erect, I had to bring her futon into the living room, turn the AC on, and sleep next to her, but hey, SHE TOOK A NAP. No idea what we’re doing tomorrow, but it will be difficult to top today’s leg of Playground Tour 2013.