When planning our family vacation, I had never heard of the banana taxi. I certainly did not picture myself on one, yet somehow I ended up straddling the inflatable yellow raft pulled by a speedboat, hanging on to a small piece of rope for dear life.
I had no idea that the banana taxi ride would teach me valuable life lessons, and remind me of some that are easy to forget.
1. Be the fun parent on occasion.
“You’ve gotta go on the banana taxi, too! C’mon! It’ll be fun!” my tween implored.
I was dubious. “I don’t think parents do that, honey, it’s all kids.”
Another dad nearby said, “I did it last year.” I presumed that meant he was hopping on the banana again. Wrong. He opted out and the taxi was full of tweens and teens, with my husband and I sandwiched in the middle of them.
We were the only parents on the ride. I was mortified, but my daughter was okay with it. Actually, she seemed downright pleased. She said that we were fun. That is what family vacation was all about.
2. Go wild, not mild.
There were two options: mild and wild. The 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. We would be on the wild ride.
I expressed concern that “wild” 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 longer than anticipated. We got our money’s worth, but I had time to think about whether my obituary would include the phrase “unfortunate, unexpected 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 I laughed a whole lot more.
5. People are kind.
Neither my husband nor I fell 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.
In our defense, the ride was still not a leisurely lake cruise. I know this 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. She was livid because the driver went slowly, and no one fell off. “It was nothing like yesterday,” she said. “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.
— Shannan Ball Younger
Shannan Ball Younger is a writer living in the suburbs of Chicago with her husband and tween daughter. She blogs about parenting at Mom Factually and weathering the hormone hurricane at Tween Us on ChicagoNow. She grew up in Erma’s home state of Ohio and was thrilled to attend the Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop in 2014. Her essays can be found in the anthologies My Other Ex and The HerStories Project. She was part of the Listen to Your Mother Chicago 2013 cast. You can also find Shannan on Facebook and Twitter.