I promised Ittybit we’d go.
Blessing? Curse? I know many-a-parent (and grandparent) who are trying to avoid that particular stretch of Route 9 for at least another month now that the rides have come to life for the season. But I promised.
The Champ’s been here before -- a few times during the past two seasons to be exact -- but he was of an age in which he was neither interested nor conscious enough to notice the candy-color amusements and the tiny tots lining up to ride.
It's possible we could have eked through our afternoon outing without the boy's involvement. He fell fast asleep on the 30-minute commute and his temperament beforehand indicated he needed the shut-eye.
There was also a satisfying breeze that, with all four windows open half way, cooled the car nicely. The Dad was more than happy to wait with the boy and practice his ability to sleep in a reclined bucket seat whilst I braved the tortures of the big-kid rides.
I agreed to make our first ride the Tilt-a-Whirl, vividly remembering the gastric upset from last year's excursion, but theorizing a full stomach back then may have been a contributing factor. It had been hours since I'd eaten, perhaps I'd be safe.
I was wrong.
Oy, motion sickness, how cruelly you've crept up on me in my old age.
I fought my way past her other favorites -- the parachute ride, the cautions for which we read AFTER asking papa, the heart patient, to accompany her the first year we visited; The tiny roller coaster, which jerks so violently in its turns that I always feel in jeopardy of falling out; and the Scrambler, the name alone is enough to explain why I walked past saying NO! NO! NO! -- to the car.
"Your father will have to go on those rides with you, Ittybit. I just can't do it."
In the parking lot, we stood for a second watching the boys snooze. And then I pounded on the window.
"Can you go with her? She wants to ride the Scrambler. I. Just. Can't."
"Gee. Thanks a lot," he said peeling himself out from behind the steering wheel and taking her hand.
As I sat in the car with the snoozing toddler, I could see her Dad's head and shoulders snapping backwards as the cars whipped around. She's too small to be visible from my vantage.
I will the boy to wake up. "You don't want to miss this," I whisper over and over. "Playland ... Playland ... Playland."
I didn't want to miss it either.
Louder: "WAKE-Y, WAKE-Y EGGS AND BAC-Y."
One eye opens, and then the other.
Still groggy from sleep, he’s still rubbing his eyes as I’m whisking him around the park, looking for his sister.
We find them near the boats, which is perfect as there is no finer first ride you can take than those boats floating around in a mechanical river.
I'm a giddy. Poised with a camera ... ready to take a picture from the same vantage my father took one of my sister and me.
Together they sit. He scowls. She rings the bell. He scowls some more. She rings the bell louder. He starts to cry. She stops ringing the bell to comfort him.
When the ride stops, I lift him out as Ittybit scrambles out next, translating his sobs.
"He's not a fan of the boats, Mom. Not enough aventure. ... He's a high flyer, I think."
As he smiled and waved his way through a plane ride a few minutes later, she proved her point.
My kids are thrill-seekers unlike their old mom.