We recently took Caleigh to a local splash pad to see if she liked it. She loves swimming, but we weren't sure how she would react to water splashing in her face.
Caleigh's cousin had her birthday party at this park and at the time I couldn't wrap my mind around how she could participate without me holding her and getting soaking wet at the same time. We didn't get in and didn't stay at the party very long due to the heat, but by the time we made it home I knew we were going to have to try it somehow. I woke up in the middle of that night and thought about the KidWalk. I'm pretty sure that splash pads are not on the approved usage chart, but I was willing to risk it in the name of summer fun.
So flash forward three weeks and we have a splash pad lover. We woke up on Thursday and I made the quick decision to try it. Caleigh was hesitant at first and mainly kept her head down. We tried a hat to block the sun, but quickly figured out that she didn't really want it on her head. We had Caleigh's Crocs on her feet instead of AFOs, because I wasn't willing to ruin her new tennis shoes. After she got tired, Caleigh's ankles weren't looking so hot with each step, but she did start out strong placing her feet flat on the ground.
Caleigh warmed up to the idea pretty quick really. The biggest thing was that there wasn't any music playing. I had to explain that electronics can not get wet. Caleigh said she understood. She walked all over the water area without music. A huge milestone. Perhaps we can use the KidWalk in other venues as well. Who knows?
The park was busy. All of the parents were under a covered picnic area just watching their kids play. Not one said a thing, but I could feel and see the stares. Once we were there for awhile, and Caleigh started walking more and more, the other children got curious. This is the first time we have taken the KidWalk in public and honestly it doesn't look like anything the typical kid is used to. The number one question was "what's wrong with her?" We got a lot of "Why is she sleeping?" Why does she move like that?" "Does she need a nap?" Of course, Caleigh was without her voice being that it is electronic and all. I answered for her the best I could. Most of the time telling them that there isn't anything wrong with Caleigh. What is funny about the whole thing is that the majority of the questions and disgusted looks came from the little girls. The little boys could care less, but man were those girls judgmental. It starts so very young, doesn't it? The questions didn't bother me much. What did bother me was that Caleigh had to stand there without her voice and listen to all the questions regarding her differences. I wanted to protect her. It made me feel helpless as Caleigh's mom.
Even with our little social experiment we loved the splash pad. I guess I can look at the questions as a way to buff up my answers to curious children. Maybe I'll get the perfect response down pat. We will definitely be going back soon. Apparently this is a popular trend in our area so there are many of these parks for us to try out.
Oh, and the KidWalk recovered beautifully. It sat on our driveway in 100 degree sunny weather drying out. You wouldn't even know it was once soaking wet!
I'm so glad we didn't stay home and chicken out. I had a stomach sinking feeling when we pulled into the parking lot, but we got out there and did it. We showed up and made it work. I'm proud of us.