Wednesday, October 22, 2014

When Did Rides Become Scary?

Love family weddings!  

We all donned our finest duds and left the kids with sitters.  After years worth of interrupted conversations (thanks to a slew of little ones), we discovered we actually enjoy talking to each other!

Love the smiles radiating from two of my favorite guys:  my brother and Dad.

My very favorite guy!

The next day we headed down to Bloomington for IU's Homecoming.  We (my brother and sister-in-law too) tried our best to blend in with the co-eds, but the fact we brought seven kids aged us all!

Never actually made it to the game.  It's much more fun to climb stone walls and throw rocks in the creeks!

The annual Sample Gates photo tradition continues!

After the kids tired of campus, we headed over to Oliver Winery for play around the pond.

Cousins:  so much better than brothers (says the boys).

On Sunday, we headed over to Six Flags in St. Louis for Fall Break.  One of the first stops was the Ferris Wheel.  Connor was skittish about the height.

Slowly he began to warm to the idea.

Finally, he relaxed and enjoyed the ride and view!

The rest of the day we hopped from ride to ride until we practically collapsed from exhaustion.  

 St. Louis: Day Two.  

We traveled up to the top of the arch in an elevator the size of my shower.  (And yes, all six of us crammed into that space!)

Some viewed the journey to the top as a cool ride; others saw it as an instrument of terror.  

The picture that made the ride to the top completely worth it!


Appreciating the magnitude of the arch height!

After the arch, we filled our tummies at Fitz's Root Beer, as recommended by one of our neighbors.

It just didn't seem right to leave the place without trying a root beer float.

Of course, I had to make sure it was OK for the boys, as any good mother would.

And then we waddled over to the Forrest Park boat yard to burn the calories off on a paddleboat ride.

Day three:  St. Louis Zoo trip.

Caleb matched his wardrobe to the excursion!

It was as if he died and went to lizard heaven!

When I was a kid, my parents took us to lots of interesting places.  We traveled to many of those destinations on airplanes.  I recall those flights fondly.  I remember snacking on salty peanuts while downing sodas (a childhood novelty) and jamming on in-flight headphones.  Never once did I worry about safety.  Not once.

Weeks ago, I flew to New Jersey.  The minute the airplane taxed down the runway, my nails clutched the armrests,  making deep indentations into the leather.  My pulse quickened.  I offered up a few prayers.  My mind started to race.  

I thought about the pilots.  

Did they look old enough to fly? Did they get enough sleep?  Will they be checking Facebook when they should be scanning the control panel?  

I analyzed the plane.  

Did it appear sturdy?  Are there any cracks on the wings?  Did the engine sound solid?

As I spiraled into a wave of worry, I wondered when flying lost its appeal.

I had these same thoughts when we ventured to Six Flags this weekend.

As a child and teen, I adored amusement parks.  I gravitated towards rides that soared to unthinkable heights, whipped around curves, and pulled riders through loops.  Not once did I fret about structural soundness or operator error.  Not once.

But this weekend was different.  As I stepped onto each ride, my blood pressure rose.  Frantic thoughts raced through my mind.

Can this (seemingly) wimpy steel track clutch our cars?  What is Plan B if a cord snaps?  Does the teen manning the ride truly know what to do if this car skids off the tracks?  Did the engineer who designed this ride have the foggiest idea of what he/she was doing?  

The fun of the ride seemed lost on me.  

How and when did this happen?

I'll blame years of watching news reports and Dateline specials that cover accidents and tragedies and after each segment feeling like I learned just a little more of what "not to do."

I'll blame being a mother of four children and feeling like I have the responsibility to be around for a while to make sure the boys brush their teeth and date respectable girls and eat their vegetables.

I'll blame age and the feeling that life is fleeting and perhaps I don't want to meet my demise on the log ride.

But being a Fraidy cat is not a good think.

In fact, it's contagious.

It trickles down to one's children.  

I noticed this too when we went to Six Flags.

One son, particularly susceptible to his own range of phobias, fed on my unease.  He eyed the Ferris Wheel and refused to step foot in the car.

After much cajoling and coaxing, he (and the rest of the family) hopped into the car; we settled in for the rotation.  

At first, he was very apprehensive.  I was too, but I tried to mask my discomfort.  But as the wheel continued to spin, and we soared upward, he started to relax.

At the top of the rotation, the wheel stopped.  Chris made a joke about "being stuck."  I smiled (secretly plotting his demise when we hit solid ground!).

The nervous son gazed at the view.  A kaleidoscope of leaf colors blanketed the landscape and decorated neighboring hills.  The view was seemingly endless and absolutely spectacular.

He said, "You could only get this view from the top!"

I agreed and thought about the truth in his statement.  

The depth of beauty and joy this life has to offer can only truly be experienced if uninhibited or prevented by fear. 

 This is what I want my children to experience.

And so this is what I must model.

I vow to spend less time fretting and more time praying.  

And then, I plan to smile and enjoy the ride.

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