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Suburban Island

Rainy Days & Roller Coasters
Saturday, Jul. 05, 2003, 10:34 p.m.

QUESTION: Why can't I win at the ball toss game?

WHAT I LEARNED: You're never too old for a day at the theme park.

My recent trip to a theme park for my son's birthday turned out better than I had expected. I was pleasantly surprised by the whole experience, as I was not sure, upon agreeing to the adventure, that I would be much more than a chauffeur and a credit card for 4 kids. I was wrong about that. The day turned out to be the perfect balance of time with the kids and time for myself.

Yes, it did rain all day on and off and the sun never did peek its smiling face through the grey clouds that spread across the sky like a coating of monochrome candy cotton. Yes, I did have to break out the dreaded rain poncho, and by the time I did it hardly mattered anymore. This is because I was already soaked through due to a poor decision on my part to indulge in a swirling swing ride that caused the rain that had suddenly begun to fall in earnest to fly off the roof of the whirling ride in wide drenching sheets that immediately splashed across all crazily swinging riders. Yes, I did have to pay $35 for 1 pizza and 5 sodas and then $25 more a little later in the evening for some warmed over sandwiches and 5 more sodas. It is true that I had to drag a large bag of arcade stuffed animals including several plush Patricks, Sponge Bob's starfish sidekick, won by all 4 kids - in a spurt of skill mixed with sheer luck - back to the car when its heftiness began to outweigh its girl attracting power. And okay, I did find that I seemed to be the only single rider in the whole park.

Additionally, I did have to sit in the back seat of a car on the turnpike ride with some kid with a heavy foot and an inability to notice vehicles slowing ahead which was a bit traumatic for everyone except, strangely, the young driver. My carousel horse always stopped at the highest point causing me to clamor down from the saddle in the more unladylike of ways. The cool necklace I bought at the gift store broke after 2 hours when the awesome cross with the sparkly stones in the center slipped down my top forcing me to retrieve it where it had momentarily come to rest in my bra - another unladylike moment if I’ve ever seen one and perhaps a message from above not to indulge in any more cheap jewelry. I did have to share a funnel cake 5 ways – a first for me. During the excellent fireworks display and all the way back to the car, it is a fact that I had to pretend that I didn't know the 4 boys up ahead of me as some awesome chicks were digging on them and I didn't want to spoil the action. I was alone again until I turned the key in the ignition and all 4 tired but happy kids jumped in and we trailed out of the park, hurrying to attach ourselves to the tail-end of the dwindling traffic leaving for the great humming Interstate that led back home.

In spite of all of that, there are a lot of perks to taking teens to the theme park. It might be the perfect mix of alone time and group fun. I found the follow advantages to this approach:

  • I had company for every meal - even if I did have to pay,
  • The kids were willing to go on a few rides with me including an in-the-dark roller coaster and a 3D show and even kicked in a few rider-pointers,
  • The hours I poured into dragging my kid to Little League paid off at the ball toss where my request for someone to win me a Sponge Bob stuffed pineapple house was immediately complied with by my son who won the prize with the first toss,
  • I got to ride the carousel twice - which has got to be the most relaxing ride in the park – without anyone but the ride attendant secretly snickering,
  • I was able to sit through a singing and dancing extravaganza in the heat of the day without talking anyone into why it would be fun,
  • I was able to sit quietly by the lush plumes of water that shot like geysers out of an expansive fountain in the front of the park and drink a second cup of coffee for the day without a single hurry up being uttered,
  • I was able to use my cell phone as a satellite command center for tracking the kids throughout the park and planning appropriate rendezvous points – keeping maternal anxiety to a minimum,
  • I didn’t have to keep up a steady stream of conversation with anyone,
  • Nobody cared that I looked like a drowned rat halfway through the day including me.

Hurray for rainy days and roller coasters.

DETAILS: Coffee: needed to stave off headache due to consumption of cooler beverages on the 4th + Listening to: the last few fireworks + Observing: lazy day for all of us + Thinking: I wish it could be Saturday every day + Weather: hot, hot, hot

Today’s Suburban Strategy: A fond farewell to N!xau.

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