Monday, September 7, 2009

Summer's Last Rites

It is a rite of passage.

There is a moment in time when a child realizes that he is, without argument, taller than 48 inches.

He has grown. He is a BIG kid. The amusement park might as well have been designed for him and him alone.

Well, it certainly wasn’t designed for me exactly, or at least no one mentioned to me that you had to be 48 inches tall and younger than 38 years, give or take (at least for a few of those rides).

It started innocently enough. The park opened in the 1800s and many of the rides are quite old in design. The roller coaster debuted in 1938, at a time when people were not necessarily used to five-point harnesses and break-neck speeds.

The Merry-go-Round was beautiful. The Ferris Wheel was delightful. The bumper cars were Andrew’s dream come true. Crashing into Dad made his day.

George liked the airplanes and balloon ride and the train too. Gladys’ favorite was the Ferris Wheel, no the roller coaster, and the . . . “Can I give you my top five?”

While Jay enjoyed the under 48 inch rides with George and Gladys, I took Andrew to the other side so he could ‘introduce me’ to the bumper cars. After all, every seven-year-old ought to have the opportunity to crash into his mother. And, we decided to find the roller coaster too.

I am not a roller coaster fanatic, but I really enjoyed the roller coaster at Idlewild. It was that right mix of fast and curvy without shaking apart my joints. And, although it wasn’t break-neck speeds, there wasn’t any restraint per se, which left it appropriately exciting.

But, then my dear husband called me on the walkie-talkie to let me know that the little ones were having SO much fun that he would need some extra time. And, so, Andrew and I decided to go on a few extra rides.

I should have known better. The balloon ride had made me mildly dizzy. I had to find a stationary focal point while on the teacups. I went on the Spider anyway. Somehow, for some reason, our car decided to spin out of control.

I could no longer see. Everything moved so fast. My world became a blur.

We went aroundandaroundandaroundandaroundandaround. And. Stop.

Oh, my, my my my my pleeeeeasse stop. They let out the other riders soooo slowly.

I staggered off the ride like the town drunk.

“Let’s go find your father,” I said calmly.

“We have plenty of time, Mom. Let’s go on another ride.”

I looked around frantically for somewhere to sit. Every ride I saw seemed to spin.

“Let’s go find your father,” I heard myself say again. But, I knew he wouldn’t be ready yet and probably wouldn’t hear me where he was.

“Mom, how about the bumper cars?”

The bumper cars did not spin. I could drive myself. That would be fine. We stood in line. I held myself up on the railing, hoping the nausea would subside – wondering when I had ever felt so sick. The flu? The food poisoning in Greece? That unfortunate night with those Australians? Was it that bad?

I could barely stand.

I began to wonder if my face had actually turned green.

After buckling myself into the bumper car next to Andrew, I noticed that the building had begun spinning. I only had a few seconds before the operator would check our belts.

“Andrew, I might hurl. You go ahead. I’ll watch from the side.”

I carefully got up from my car and headed out of the bumper pavilion. I had made it. I leaned up against the soda machine, assuming that I would lose my lunch at any moment. I thanked myself for refraining from any funnel cakes. I had had a good lunch.

I might even be fine. Maybe.

And, sure enough, I was fine, (although it would take nearly two hours and lots of water before I could even go on the Ferris Wheel). Andrew jumped happily off the bumper cars and we went, slowly and deliberately, to find Jay.

It was only later, during the late-night departure from the park, that I realized my son had experienced another rite of passage. He learned a new word. And, I am so proud that he learned it from his mother.

“So, Mom, what does ‘hurl’ mean?”


Flea said...

Bwahahahaha! My kids all know what hurl means, but that is TOO funny!

I had a similar experience at age 38! I always loved the spinning rides, but riding two of them back to back in 105 Oklahoma heat - same result. I didn't hurl, but it was only by the grace of God and some pretty strong stomach muscles that it didn't happen.

*Moi* said...

Gladys looks soooo sad. I remember when Becky (my older sister, author of Locks of Love) was taller than me...those days were grim.

Brigette said...

I hate those wild rides. I'll be the one with the under-48 inch crowd until they're all over 48 inches, after which I'll wait for the rest of them at the exit.

AreWeThereYet? said...

48" tall -- now that is a great topic for a post! And I love that Andrew learned the word "hurl" from his own mother. How hip...

Brigette said...

I'll go you one better -- my kids learned the word retard from their mother. How awful is that?

Angela said...

We have one above and one below 48" as well, but they both know what hurl is! I once got nauseous on one of those spinning seashell rides and it took me an hour to recover. And I'm usually a rollercoaster gal. My taller kid doesn't want to try the bigger rides and neither does my husband, so I either pass it or go with my 72-year-old mom!