A wave pool of chlorine, a giant slide and rubber mats filled their day. Golf in miniature form, bumper boats and race cars on a track, they did them all. Yet there was one ride in which the child eyed and begged, a roller coaster on a wooden track. The mother shook her head no, but the kid nodded yes. Unfortunately for both the giant ride could be seen from every other spot in the park.
As they floated on the waves in the pool he would say, I want to ride that, and point to the track. No, you can't ride that, she would reply.
Standing in line climbing to the top of the huge slide he would say, I want to ride that, and point to the track. No, you don't understand. You can't ride that, again she would reply.
Again and again, each place they would go he became more and more focused on the roller coaster until the end of the day when they had done everything else in the park. Finally the power struggle became too much and he threw his last ditch effort as she tried to lead him away. The dreaded fit, screaming, crying, flailing, a public outcry for help. Call it what you will but if you call it a test of wills you'll have to say he won. She grabbed his arm, knelt down to look him in the eyes and said, We'll go over there and we'll ask the people if you can ride but I assure you you are not old enough, not tall enough. They won't let you ride. To this reply he settled and took off toward the ticket stand.
A teenager sat in a booth. There were no lines. The boy looked up to the mom as she proceeded to prove her point. Hello, she said, my son wants to ride this roller coaster but I don't think he's tall enough. Doesn't he need to be bigger in order to ride this ride?
The teenager pointed to a sign off to the right, a measuring stick of sorts. Have him stand next to that.
The boy clearly three to four inches too short looked at the teenager with pleading eyes somewhat swollen from the earlier fitful cry. The mother looked at the teenager as well but with the request, See, he's too small. He doesn't measure tall enough. He can't ride this ride. Please tell him so.
He's okay. Close enough, the teenager replied.
You're kidding me, the Mom said as she shook her head and gave up the money.
The teenager smiled and the boy ran up the platform toward the ride.
They were the only ones, that mother and child, who opted to ride that ride. Put at the front in the line of carts by another grinning teenager, strapped down with a flimsy belt, now gripping onto a silver bar, the mother looked at the child. Hold on, she said. He looked up at her and smiled.
Clickety clack. The cart went slowly up the track.
The mother knew what was to come and she told the son, Hold on, boy. It's gonna get fast. We're going up a hill and we're gonna go down.
The boy stared straight ahead.
They reached the top. The mom threw up her hands and screamed.
The boy gripped the silver bar and stared straight ahead.
The mother screamed and the boy remained silent. Motionless, gripping the silver bar.
Finally they were back where they started. The same teenager walked up to the cart. Do you want to go again? He asked before lifting the bar.
The mom looked at the son who continued in what looked to be a catatonic state, his knuckles white from gripping that silver bar, Well, son. What do you think? Do you want to go again?
All the screams he had meant to scream but couldn't due to a frozen state came out in that one moment as a resounding no. No, he did not want to go again.
That day he left that park mad at her and she couldn't help herself but smile.
Grateful she'd never have to ride another ride.