Thursday, August 6, 2009

Amusement Parks Through Mom's Eyes

This summer, we've had two opportunities to visit amusement parks. While we were visiting my parents in the Myrtle Beach area, we included a stop at the Myrtle Beach Family Amusement Center one night. My parents generously bought the kids ride bracelets, and gave us some tickets to accompany them on a few rides.

Yesterday, the kids and I turned in our free tickets from the Six Flags reading program and met some friends for a day of rides and fun.

Both days, I was struck by just how much fun I could have not going on rides. In MB, BigBro and I went on the Log Flume, laughing maniacally and getting soaked, together. Then DH went with him on a Wild-West ride, and rode along as Princess drove the antique cars. But the rest of the night, we stood alongside the rides, waving, smiling, and snapping pictures. And it was one of the best times I've ever had at an amusement park.

Until yesterday. Three of us moms, corralling 9 kids around Six Flags for about 7 hours, was, by far, among the most fun I've ever had. The whole day, I rode only three rides: the antique cars twice (once driven by Princess and once by LilBro) and the Mine Train roller coaster once (with BigBro). But I had the best seat in the house for some really neat experiences: BigBro's first "real" roller coaster... the over-thinking and worry he was doing in line, getting caught up in the facts about the coaster that were posted in the queue, the panic in his voice as we headed up that first big hill, the giddiness as he realized that he was safe and having fun, and the beaming eyes and huge smile as we pulled back into station, safety bar was released, and BigBro realized that he had done it...and survived to tell.

I watched Princess try some new rides that had always scared her, as well as enjoying some of her old favorites with LilBro. Princess reveled in her role as the "big kid," holding LilBro's hand, making sure he was strapped in for the rides, guiding him back to me when the rides were over.

And LilBro, happy to go on the same rides over and over, giddily splashing in the pop-up fountains. When it was his turn to drive me around in the antique cars, his voice tightened in fear. His eyes were nervous and he clung to me in line. We climbed into the car, I put my foot on the gas pedal, and told him to steer. Within seconds, the fear was replaced by this calm confidence. He could do this. It wasn't scary. In fact, he was pretty good. Look... the car never went off the track, and didn't crash. Wow! He was a great driver! When we finished our loop around the course, my frightened little boy had been replaced with a self-confident young driver, who wanted - desperately - to get back in the 25 minute line to do it again. Alas... there were 8 other children who didn't fancy that idea, so the antique cars will have to wait for my little Indy 500 driver until next summer.

When I was a teen and in my 20s, I loved going to amusement parks. I loved the rides. I always stayed until the park closed... trying to squeeze just one more ride into the night. It seemed to me, at that time in my life, that it could never get better than that. I was tall enough for all of the fun rides, I could stay out as late as I wanted, and I had the stomach and nerves for even the craziest of coasters.

Those days are far behind me. The Mine Train is my top speed these days, and I am much more likely to be standing on the sidelines versus standing in the long lines. But the fun hasn't stopped one bit. That younger version of me never knew just how much fun it would be to watch my children enjoying rides: their joy, their giddiness, their innocence, and their self-confidence.

I doubt she would have believed me, if I could have told her, anyway.

1 comment:

  1. It was a fun day. I was not sure how we could handle 9 kids, but they all seemed to have a good time. I'm glad you found your tickets!