For anyone who didn’t already know, The Hubby and I met while operating rides at Six Flags Great Adventure. We learned the ins and outs of how theme park rides work, from locking and unlocking cable cars to balancing a Ferris wheel (if it’s not balanced properly, it can be harder to stop — or even run backwards!) and everything in between. Even when we weren’t in uniform, we practically lived in the park that summer. We knew the layout like the backs of our hands, where each ride was located and the quickest route to get to our favorite ones. We knew we loved being in the park and riding the rides.
We didn’t know way back then, at the tender age of 19, that twelve years later we’d be the married parents of a crazy, funny, adorable toddler.
…Who has turned out to love rides, too!
My brother-in-law, who was a preschooler when The Hubby and I met, now works for Great Adventure in the rides department. He gets special tickets for his family and friends to use, and he kindly gave all of them to me. I figured that since Joshua Bear isn’t two yet (although his birthday is rapidly approaching!), his admission to the park is free — so why not take him and see what he thinks of the rides? I could only hope that he’d be a fan…and if he wasn’t, it wouldn’t be like I wasted a ton of money on park admission.
This past Monday, we went back for our third visit, and our second time as a mommy-and-me trip.
And for the first time, Joshua went on a few rides alone.
And he LOVED them!
Let me just say that, at 19, I didn’t know or care about what the height requirements were for “kiddie” rides. I knew that you had to be a certain height to ride without a parent, but the fact that some rides had a maximum height allowance was news to me. So, you can probably imagine my surprise when I took Joshua to a ride called Bugaboo, strapped him in, and was told I couldn’t ride when I tried to buckle in alongside him.
What do you mean, I’m too tall to ride?! My little boy needs me to ride with him! He’ll try climbing out of the ride while it’s moving if I’m not there with him!
I remember quickly shuffling out of the ride area, pulling my camera out of my back pocket, and waiting for Joshua Bear to start screaming and crying because I had left him, all while looking straight down at the ground.
And when I looked up, this is what I saw.
He didn’t need me.
My little boy wasn’t so little anymore.
The rest of the day continued just like this, my not-so-little Bear holding my hand while walking into each ride area, letting me help him into the car if needed, getting strapped in, and then plastering a huge smile on his face as each ride carried him around to new corners of his imagination.
He explored a whole new world and discovered another level of independence on Monday. I think I was more afraid of leaving him alone on the rides than he was of being left to his own devices. Actually, now that I think about it, I don’t think he was afraid at all! We got to practice letting go of each other a bit, and we’ll get to continue doing so as he keeps growing and changing and becoming more independent.
I wish he’d be my tiny Bear forever, but at the same time I can’t wait for him to grow up and change the world. And when he does, I will always be there to hold his hand if he needs me.
What a perfectly imperfect day. 🙂