Having been Rylee and Maisyn’s music teacher … since … um … birth, I was thrilled when their mom, Amber Whitt, replied to my Patch/Facebook query: “Does anyone want to have some summer fun together?” with a “Pick me!”
We settled on an adventure that was nearby and free.
My teenage son happens to be the world’s most fabulous 15-year-old and fantastically loved by young children, so we invited him along.
The Interactive Water Fountain is located on 2nd Street in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, near the Clock Tower, so it took us less than 1/2 hour to get there. Our directions said to park at the “Blue” garage. After first ending up at “Green,” we finally found “Blue,” but after walking through the “Red” garage to get to the fountain, we decided that lot would have been the most direct place to park. But hey, it was all part of the adventure!
When we arrived, around 11:30 a.m., kids were playing in the water. We claimed one of the few umbrella tables for our picnic lunch and towels.
My son texted his dad with a laugh, a picture of the fountain and message that said, “This is what all the hype is about?” but we soon discovered more fun than we could have imagined.
The spray area is part of a simple, outdoor plaza/park with fountains that spurt “randomly” (there’s a pattern that’s carefully engineered, I’m sure,
but my brain couldn’t compute it) until every once in a while all of the spouts shoot at once, much to the delight of those standing on the plaza (yes, this mama was right in the mix!)
Amber brought some toys for the girls: a plastic watering can, a few balls and some stacking cups, but the most fun came from the classic "Red Solo Cup" shooting in the air until it flipped over.
We played for a while, ate our lunch, then took a walk by the river, which Maisyn called “The Lake." Following the boardwalk to the falls in front of the Sheraton, we had to leap over a few missing boards (time for some repairs!). My son was a great protector of the girls, holding hands and giving piggy back and shoulder rides. (Amber said that on the way home, Maisyn was still talking about her new friend, referring to him as “That Boy,” even though they had reminded her of his name several times.)
Kody pointed out some carp in the river, we admired the falls, and were headed back for more fountain fun when we decided to “do a show” in the empty amphitheater.
It reminded me of what my daughter once discovered at a park
amphitheater when she was Rylee’s age: while a “show” is fun anywhere, any time, a REAL STAGE makes it even more entertaining.
We took turns “doing shows.” Maisyn and Kody did a horse show (Kody on his hands and knees with Maisyn as the rider), Rylee did a tap-dance/“glow-pop” show with her lighted sucker purchased at the nearby snack shack, and I sang “The More We Get Together the Happier We’ll Be.” Then, Maisyn talked her mom into doing an “acrobatic” routine where she climbed up her mom’s legs and flipped. Then her mom raised her into the air, Maisyn executing a perfect toe-touch any cheerleader would envy.
We laughed, we sang, we cheered with uproarious applause, moments we’re sure to remember. Who would’ve thought bringing life to an empty stage would be one of the day’s highlights?
But isn’t that what life with kids is all about? Entering their world, daring to be kids alongside them, and embracing imaginative play and the sense of discovery that we sometimes lose as adults? Aren’t these what makes every day with our kids fun? The substance of life with little ones?
When I asked Maisyn what she liked best about the day, she said, “The fount’in, the lake and the stage.”
What was Rylee’s favorite show? “The tap-dancing with the lollipop.”
Kody’s favorite part?
“I liked being the horse,” my 6’2” teenage athlete laughed.
I couldn’t help but thinking of a time when a friend told me he wished his kids’ cousins were closer in age to his kids; the cousins were so much younger.
"There’s just nothing there for my kids,” he said, noting that they had little in common.
Though at the time I kept silent, I knew that older kids have much to offer younger kids, and vice-versa. That was my conviction when I invited my
son to come along to the fountain, and he unequivocably proved the truth of that value.
"I can’t get over that boy of yours!” Amber said. “I don’t know of any other teenage boy who, for no reason, would spend a summer afternoon being adored by two little girls!”
He is pretty great, I'll admit. And I love, love, love the Whitt children. My son discovered that he does too.
There are probably other teenagers who would enjoy spending the day with a 4-year-old and 7-year-old. Likely more than we think. They just haven’t been invited yet.
I’m so glad we took the time to be together, despite the age gap with our kids. Sometimes we have more in common than we think.
The Interactive Fountain at Falls Square is open Mondays from 11 a.m.- 10 p.m. and Tuesdays through Sundays from 10 a.m.- 10 p.m. Phone: 330-971-8135. Free parking and admission, public restrooms available in the lower level of the building to the left of the plaza (as you are facing the amphitheatre).