When I pictured our family vacation at a small resort on a lake in Minnesota, I envisioned lovely sunsets, quality beach time and s’mores around the campfire with my favorite people. What I did not picture, however, was myself on a banana taxi.
The banana taxi is an inflatable tube raft that seats 12 people who straddle the bright yellow tube that is pulled along the water by a ski boat. Passengers take a seat on the banana and hang on to a small piece of rope in front of them. I had no idea that our banana taxi ride would teach me some valuable life lessons, remind me of some that are all too easy to forget, and become a cherished family memory.
1. Be the Fun Parent on Occasion
“You’ve gotta go on the banana taxi too! C’mon! It’ll be fun!” my tween daughter implored.
I was dubious. “I don’t think parents do that, honey, it looks like it’s all kids.”
Another dad standing nearby said, “I did it last year.” I presumed that meant he was hopping on the banana again. Wrong. He opted out this year, and the taxi was full of tweens and teens with my husband and me sandwiched in the middle of them.
We were the only parents on the ride, and my tween seemed okay with this fact. Actually, she seemed downright pleased. She said that we were fun and that is what family vacation is all about.
2. Go Wild, Not Mild
There were two options of rides: mild and wild. The very young staffer handling banana boat registration (how does one include that on a resume?) cheerfully informed us as we signed waivers that the mild ride was full and we would be on the wild ride.
I expressed some concern that perhaps that was not where we of the middle-aged belonged. She said, “It’s not so bad.” Then she laughed maniacally.
It was pretty bad. That boat driver did, in fact, take the term “wild” seriously. He went fast. Really, really fast.
He made sure to crisscross over the wakes he created, sending the banana and its riders high into the air. He made sharp turns that created what I’m sure were 3Gs (okay, maybe not). It was, in fact, wild.
3. Hang on Tight
Sometimes, on the banana taxi and in life, things get unexpectedly bumpy. There’s not much you can do other than hang on tightly. You do what you can, and that’s enough.
Even when it isn’t enough, you fall off and get back on. That’s okay, too.
4. Enjoy the Ride
This taxi ride lasted a lot longer than I anticipated. We got our money’s worth, but I also had more time to think about the fact that my obituary may have included the phrase “died in an unfortunate banana taxi accident.” When I realized that such phrasing would be awesome, I enjoyed the ride.
I still feared for my life (and my dignity), but when I was able to relax a bit, I had a whole lot more fun.
5. Trust Your Kids to Handle Themselves
When my tween flew off the first of many times, I looked back, worried. She popped up to the surface with a very strange look on her face and then broke into a huge smile.
I later asked her if the weird expression on her face came from the surprise of falling off.
“Oh no, the falling part was awesome. The weird look must have been because my bathing suit bottom was down around my ankles, and I was pulling it up. Can’t get back on the banana taxi half-naked!”
No, no you cannot.
While her comment will haunt me for the rest of my days, I was pleasantly surprised by how her humor and composure held up under what could have been mortifying circumstances. She certainly was more together than I would have been, which is one of the many reasons why I stick with one pieces.
6. People Can Be Kind
When we returned to dry land, I realized that neither my husband nor I had fallen off the banana taxi.
It was a family vacation miracle!
Actually, no, it was not. As I ungracefully dismounted from the banana, the driver said that he had tried to take it easy on the side of the boat on which my husband and I were sitting. Something about us not wanting to break bones and sue him. But really, I think he was trying to be kind to us, and I was grateful.
That said, our ride was no leisurely cruise on the lake. I know it was a bit crazy because my child went on her second banana taxi ride the following day, without us.
She couldn’t wait to sign up for the wild ride, and returned from it livid because the driver went slowly and no one fell off. She said, “It was nothing like yesterday. Yesterday was wild and awesome! Today was like it was for all the old people.” That day, there were no adults on the banana taxi. Figures.
7. It Will End
The bumpiness will end. Either the ride will slow down, or you will find calmer waters. Your child wanting you on the banana taxi will end. And that will, to your great surprise, make you sad.
At least I can say that I enjoyed the ride and laugh about it, and the double entendre, for years to come.
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