With one last heave, I set you on the platform in front of a yawning black hole I was hoping would swallow us both, shoot us down three stories, and out the other end. Your little hands clenched into white fists as your arms locked into right angles while you danced with itchy feet towards me.
“You ready to come down, Baobao?” your mom yelled from down below. “I’m here waiting for you!”
Your face scrunched up blending all your features away. “Pa. Pa. Pa,” you said through quivering lips. I didn’t even know you knew the Chinese word for scared. It was the first time you had intimated fear.
“It’s okay. I’ll go down the slide with you. Together,” I said, pointing at the slide opening. It was darker than I thought it would be, as I tried to peer over your shoulder and down the tube slide looking for some daylight. Nothing.
The opening of the tube slide was big – more than half the size of the platform Baobao stood on. Perhaps the architects of this thrill ride thought people would be more inclined to just go down a spacious but uninviting opening over squeezing one’s way down the platform.
“Pa. Pa. Pa,” you continued. The slide echoed in support.
“Come on. We can do it together,” I said with a smile.
“Pa. Pa. Pa.”
“I’m not going to carry you down all those platforms.”
You continued your (un)happy feet dance and just stepped off the platform. My hands shot out and slotted into each of your armpits to catch you.
“Okay, okay. Let’s go down. No slide.”
“It’s all right,” you said.
Yes, it is all right.