Sacramento’s mash-up of rural and urban plays right into the hands of families on the lookout for fun. Triple-digit temperatures make cooling off a must for the entire family, and the opportunities for water-borne adventure are plentiful, from rafting on the American River to plunging down the steep, twisting slides at Raging Waters, to the garden hose in your backyard. Are you all wet yet? C’mon in, the water’s fine.
Contrary to popular belief, it’s not always advantageous to have intelligent children. Suppose, for example, they figure what you’re up to with that chores thing? It’s sad but true: The little tikes will turn on you in a second. That’s why you’ve followed the lead of Gary Coleman’s parents this summer: Teach the kids a valuable skill now so you can exploit them to the hilt later.
Hollywood is where the money is, and your future child actors are the combination to the safe. They’ve got ample talent. Can’t you just hear them now? “I’ll just die if I don’t get a new iPod cover!” Brother. Needless to say, they’re the star pupils at the B Street Theatre‘s acting camp this summer. In a few short weeks, Buck and Timothy Busfield have transformed them into living, breathing ATMs. Think of them as your retirement policy.
Now it’s time to shop around the video of the camp’s showcase event, in which your children played the leading roles. No one has to tell you that the Busfields are, as Tony Soprano might put it, “connected” to all the right Hollywood people. Cross your fingers and be patient. Your working days are numbered.
You did the right thing and brought your kids home from the aquatic center, but no one awarded you a Good Samaritan merit badge for it. In fact, without a doubt, your summer has grown infinitely worse.
Oh, you tried to ignore the little brats. You confiscated their cell phones, gave them a couple of squirt guns, threw them in the backyard and locked the back door. You paid no attention to their whining and gave them the same stupid speech about gratitude your parents used to give you.
Communication has been reduced to the slamming of bedroom doors. The gates are splintered and the gutters are hanging from the roof. You’re overcome with guilt and even your spouse chimes in about how insensitive you are. You sit on the couch, arms crossed, in a state of disgruntlement, watching summer-replacement series while your significant other rounds up the kids and takes them to Vic’s Ice Cream for a brain freeze. At least they’re happy.
Family life is all about balance. A $30,000 motor home that gets maybe three miles to the gallon on one hand versus new pencils for the kids this fall on the other.
Hmm. Decisions, decisions.
OK, screw the road trip. There’s a River Cats game on this afternoon. You head over to Raley Field (www.rivercats.com), where $25 buys a piece of Home Run Hill for the whole gang. You gobble hot dogs, slurp down big fresh-squeezed lemonades, snag pop flies and cheer on the home squad.
On the way out, you stop by the box office to buy some tickets for future games, making sure to get some on Saturday nights, when the Delta breeze is blowing and the fireworks are flying. It’s like taking a trip without ever leaving the barn. Ain’t that America?
OK, maybe you should have told the kids, back in June when you were bribing them with ice-cream cones, that the ultimate summer adventure you were planning for them, a trip to the California State Fair, wouldn’t even begin until August (this year the fair runs from August 17-September 3).
No matter. You’ve made it through the traffic and you’ve left the car waaaaay out in the dusty parking lot at Cal Expo. The noise and sparkle of the midway and the scent of deep-fryer grease lures you all on. It’s 105 degrees in the shade, not that the kids notice it. They max out on cotton candy, fried foods and rides, and puke on your shoes and still keep going. They’re enthralled by the baby animals—tiny pink piglets and a baby calf struggling to get to its feet. They laugh at the dorky exhibits submitted by sad, unambitious counties and marvel at the moving dioramas of gold miners and the like.
Afterward, it’s off to the Greek food stand for a tasty and reasonably healthy dinner of gyros, and then some tasty and unreasonably unhealthy funnel cakes for dessert. It’s been a long, fun but stressful day, and so you and your mate sneak off one at a time to the cool, shady wine pavilion for a little tasting and relaxation. Summer adventures don’t get any better than this.
Listen, you’re never going to live down not getting that pool. You might as well take out a second job now and start saving up for next year. Meanwhile, you do what you can for basically ruining your children’s summer.
You could start by logging on to www.cityofsacramento.org/parksandrecreation/recreation and downloading the Summer Aquatics Brochure to sign the kids up for swimming lessons.
Then, once they know how to swim, you can take them out to Raging Waters, where excitement and adventure are the name of the game.
But guess what? All that stuff costs money, and you’ve got an in-ground pool to save up for. So you bust out the SPF 50, get a wide-brimmed hat, a rickety lawn chair and a big bottle of iced tea for yourself, and drag the decidedly old old-school Slip ‘n’ Slide down from the garage rafters. Free water play all summer—what’s not to love? Who knows. Maybe you’ll still be the most popular family in the neighborhood.