Thursday, March 21, 2013

On Grandkids and Amusement Parks

So we took our oldest grandkids (Noah and Reese) to Silver Dollar City yesterday.  (They are 11 and 8 respectively.  I’m sure Noah wants to be older, but the fact that he is still 11 saved me about ten bucks on the admission price.  Yea for 11!)  We were able to take them because they are on Spring Break.  In fact it was the first day of spring.  But I guess God forgot to check the calendar—it was 43 degrees with a cold north wind.  But we dressed for it.  And so did thousands of other people.  I couldn’t believe the crowd—long lines for everything: tickets, roller coasters, and funnel cakes.  I understood the roller coasters but funnel cakes?  And trust me on this: most of the people in those lines did NOT need to be eating funnel cakes.  But it’s an amusement park after all; you pay a king’s ransom to get in and pay a king’s ransom for a funnel cake; so whatever amuses you most, I guess, you go for it.

But I digress.  You know, it’s just a different deal when you take grandkids to an amusement park.  We took our own kids to amusement parks when they were growing up, and we enjoyed it.  But it’s different when you take your grandkids.  Here’s some of what I noticed:

Grandkids live in the moment; grandparents feel the need to reminisce about stuff.  Why did I feel the need to tell Noah and Reese about what Silver Dollar City looked like when I was a kid?  Why did I feel the need to have them walk across the swinging bridge (which used to be the entrance to the City)?  Why did I want them to ride the stuff I rode when I was growing up?  When I saw a DVD of the four episodes The Beverly Hillbillies shot there 1967, why did I have to tell them I came one afternoon and watched them film?  They don’t even know who The Beverly Hillbillies are.  So grandparents feel the need to reminisce.  Is it some subconscious effort to help grandchildren know us better or is it more of a desire for some deeper connection of our childhood with theirs?  Beats me.  All I know is that too many of my sentences started with, “I remember when ….”

Grandkids get frustrated at long lines for the rollercoasters; grandparents are just grateful for short lines at the restrooms.  Enough said.

When grandkids get on a ride, they think: “Man, this is gonna be fun!”  When grandparents get on a ride, they think, “Geez, I hope I don’t get sick, hurt, or require chiropractic attention when this ride’s over.”

There was one ride Reese wanted to do but Noah didn’t.  It’s called the Barn Swing.  It’s a kind of double-pendulum deal.  They strap you in tighter than an astronaut.  Then the two arms of the pendulum start swinging in opposite directions until you are somewhere in the stratosphere looking straight down at earth.  (I think the guy who made the record jump from a plane in the stratosphere used this for his training.)  Anyway, I didn’t want to ride it.  Noah wouldn’t ride it.  Dayna certainly was not going to ride it.  But that’s another thing about grandparents: we’ll do stuff for our grandkids we wouldn’t do for anybody else.  So I told Reese I’d ride it with her.  That was all Noah needed to give it a shot too.  So the three of us (after a lengthy wait in line, of course) got on that contraption.  Reese was excited.  I wanted to get it over with.  And Noah was nervous.  While we were waiting in line Noah kept saying to himself, “I’m going to find out if a I’m a man or a mouse.”  And once we started going up, up, up, and looking straight down, down, down, Noah started screaming, “I am not a man!  I am not a man!”  When the ride came to a merciful end, the man next to me who had heard Noah shouting that during the freakier parts of the ride turned to me and said, “I’m glad he was saying that,” meaning, “Because if he wasn’t, I would have been.”  Reese wanted to ride it again.

Anyway, all in all it was a great day.  We all left the park frostbitten but no worse for the wear, and we made some shared memories—which, though not important to grandkids (yet), is very important to grandparents.

The day reminded me of those MasterCard commercials from a few years ago.  (Here I go reminiscing again.)  But you remember those commercials, don’t you?  This would be my version.

4 admission ticket$ to Silver Dollar City: $276

Three sandwiches, two small salads, and some chips for lunch: $47

A day with the grandkids at an amusement park: priceless.

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