Calvin turned nine last week, and chose to celebrate this momentous milestone by going parasailing with his dad on the Abu Dhabi Corniche.
"Maybe you shouldn't go with us, Mom," Calvin said for the hundredth time, as I doggedly followed them to the Family Beach (entrance Dh10 for adults; Dh5 for children). "You'll freak out when we go up," my husband said. "I won't," I lied glibly.
Leaving our shoes on the sand, we paid the man at the small booth on the beach and, with an instructor and an attendant leading the way, waded into the freezing water to get on the boat.
We bumped out to sea on high, choppy waves, steadily getting wetter as the spray flew up on all sides. Calvin stood in the middle of the boat, hands on hips and chest thrust out, like a small bedraggled pirate, while I hoarsely shouted empty threats at him. In the end, taking pity on me, the instructor and my husband went over and held Calvin in an iron grip until the boat slowed down. Then father and son were strapped into life vests and harnesses.
"Give me your iPhone, Mom," said Calvin. "I want to take pictures from the sky."
"Back soon," said my husband, as though he was going to the shop.
The instructor flashed the thumbs-up sign and, cables straining, they were airborne, swaying in the wind and becoming smaller and smaller until they looked like a couple of bugs hanging on to a billowing, multicoloured flower. By then, the soft wind that had been blowing when we left the beach had became stronger, and I turned to the instructor.
"Are they safe up there?" I asked. "Yeah," he said in amusement. "Listen to your son. He's talking non-stop."
He was right. Now and then, I could hear Calvin's incredibly loud voice falling and rising in the wind. The boat chugged to the far end of the Corniche, made a U-turn before Mina Port and then headed back, all the while reeling them in. The wind was whacking Calvin around like a marionette, but my husband had his arms wrapped tightly around him. "You know what you have to do, Calvin." I could hear my husband talking calmly as they swooshed down. "Legs parallel to the ground. Do it now."
They made a perfect landing and Calvin, who managed to kick my husband a few times in his haste to get out of the harness, immediately ran over and gave me a hug. "It was wonderful up there, Mom! I saw a giant turtle and a jellyfish and a whale and a dolphin!" he said breathlessly as the boat puttered to a stop. "And one very scared mummy."
A single parasail flight (about 30 minutes) costs Dh175 per person and Dh300 for two people. Visit www.empros.ae for more information.