Scott Levine.jpg

Scott Levine

Associated Press

Two things became increasingly obvious during the past week.

I’m slow. And my assistance is not needed anymore.

By slow, I mean physically (hopefully I’m still OK mentally), which many would argue shouldn’t be a new revelation. But when my wife, daughter and I trekked to Dubuque over the weekend to enjoy a water park, and then returned home to go bowling for my daughter’s first time, I found out the hard way about my new deficiencies.

This was our first time as a family going to a hotel for a weekend, so we were a little nervous. We didn’t know how our almost 2-year-old daughter would react in a tight space, but only a few minutes into our hotel room, we were shown how she would cope in the smaller room.

Instead of running laps around the bed, my daughter decided to run into the closest, close the doors, and then play her own version of hide and seek, which revolved around her opening the doors every so often and not allowing us to actually “find” her. Eventually, she wanted company, so I squeezed my way into the empty space, laughing every time my daughter opened the doors to reveal light, before returning to darkness.

When that routine got tired, we headed to the pool, where I showed off amazing swimming skills. OK, maybe my abilities aren’t that amazing, but no one cared since the entire park featured water that went up to my shoulders (and since my daughter is inching closer to my height, that’s pretty shallow).

Besides being impressed by the layout of the park, the water’s depth played perfectly with bringing a toddler. She immediately ran into the “baby” portion of the building, where water sprayed her in the face from the various fountains and sprinklers. At first I couldn’t tell if she was crying or laughing, but by about the fourth time of being doused by water, I think she enjoyed it (or she has an odd way of telling us when something’s wrong).

When we finally reached the basketball hoop portion of the pool, my daughter was ready to “shoot,” or at least that’s what she told me. However, this water was too deep for her to stand, forcing my wife and me to hold her in order to keep her head above water. This is where I realized my help was not appreciated.

She wanted to swim, just like Mom and Dad. But little did she know, I took years of swimming lessons to learn how to kick my feet. My explanation didn’t work and she wanted to show her sea legs.

Now I’ve always been told to introduce people by allowing them to sink or swim, but I figured that would land me in jail, so I opted for a distraction, by suggesting going down the large slide to take our mind off things. Luckily that was a nice diversion and she loved riding on Mom’s lap down the big slide.

Unfortunately, my daughter hasn’t been versed in the “no running” policy of pools, and since I’ve lost a step in older age, she usually sprinted out of the pool, racing back in line to go down the slide again. By the end of our trip, she didn’t want to get out of the pool, making it even harder to explain our next destination of the Mississippi River museum.

But she conceded and enjoyed the museum, which featured oversized fish, live exhibits and her first movie theater experience, which consisted of 3D dinosaurs and fish.

Our weekend activities weren’t over, though. We went bowling to finish off the weekend, marking our daughter’s first time on the lanes.

With her little bowling shoes, a pink ball and a menacing look, my daughter stared at the pins and readied herself to hurl the ball down the lane.

After begrudgingly allowing me to assist with her throwing the ball, she flung the ball down the lane, and about five minutes later, seven pins fell. We were excited and gave ourselves a nice round of applause.

With three pins left, we eyed a spare, and once my daughter threw the ball, she wanted to see if she could beat the ball down the lane this time, escaping my grasp and sprinting down the lane.

Without thinking about the oil permeating on the lanes, I took off, proceeded to fall head over heels, and landed on the only object I tried to avoid — my daughter.

Because of my slow reflexes, I caused quite a congestion on lane 4, and my partner, who happened to pick up the spare, wasn’t too happy with my inability to stay upright.

Needless to say, bowling didn’t go over as well as swimming, especially since our mishap happened in the first frame. She didn’t want me as her partner anymore, relegating me to the sidelines, while Mom assisted (with my wife as the helper, my daughter didn’t pick up another spare. I’ll let you be the judge on whether that’s a coincidence or not.)

It was a weekend of firsts for our family, which is something that’s happened consistently over the past two years. Now as long as the next “firsts” weekend doesn’t involve any collisions with a 1-year-old, my body will likely feel much better on Monday.

Follow Scott Levine on Twitter @ScottLevineCH.

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