Friday, May 20, 2016

Park It

I spend a lot of time with the kids at the park. But I'm the first the admit that "going to the park" isn't always as fun as it sounds. On a good day, it means the kids and I trek out to New Farm Park for a half day playing in the two-storey spider web among the banyans. On a bad day, it means we steal half an hour on the sad scrap of undeveloped land squeezed between the dock, the parking lot and the marina office.

Lately, Erik and I have been beset by Guilty Feelings regarding the kids. For although one of our family mottoes is "You Get What You Get and You Don't Get Upset,"* let's be fair. We're six weeks behind schedule. The girls are stuck in a marina with a total lack of other children, an excess of biting flies, and two increasingly cranky parents. The odd outing to New Farm isn't really cutting it anymore.

And so Erik hatched a Cunning Plan.

"I've been thinking," he said.

I froze. In my experience, Erik normally follows those words with something life-altering, like "we should take a sabbatical," or "I'd like to take that project in Papua New Guinea."

"Y-e-e-e-e-s," I said cautiously, trying not to imagine what is could be this time.

"The girls have been so patient with all of our nonsense," he said. "We should give them a fun day. I was thinking we could take them to Dreamworld,"

For those of you east of the Pacific, Erik was not suggesting we euthanize our children; Dreamworld is a theme park south of here. Roller coasters, water slides, overpriced candy floss; just the sort of thing I lived for when I was eleven and now can't tolerate without my seasickness meds. Expensive: sure. A guaranteed migraine: you betcha. But I didn't need any convincing. Erik's idea was a winner.

Wednesday morning, we woke the girls with the news. Waiting until the last moment was pure self-preservation; we wouldn't have gotten a moment's peace if they were permitted to anticipate The Big Day. We ate, jumped in the car, and headed south to Gold Coast. (Not 'the' Gold Coast; it's a city, not a region as the name might suggest.) We arrived just before opening, primed and ready. And noticed that everyone waiting with us was a parent with a child under five. Erik and I each raised an eyebrow. A hazy memory of the website swam back to me - something about a Wiggles concert, but I'd foolishly assumed it would be in the evening. Duh. How quickly the habits of small children are forgotten. The concert was set for 10:30am, and not a moment later.

And so it was when we pushed through the gates, we saw this:
Strollers, strollers, as far as the eye can see.
Wiggles avoided, we made our way to the actual rides, and the fun began.

The girls knew their own minds regarding the rides from the start. Indy: high thrill. Stylish: more moderate. It took me a little longer to find my groove. In the excitement, Erik was easily able to convince me to go on rides that were way out of my league. Anything with spinning or prolonged upside-down sections put my medication to the test. I spent a lot of time with my eyes closed, promising my inner ear that it would all be over soon.

But my greatest mistake of the day came when I agreed to try the Giant Drop. It is exactly what it sounds like: they haul you 39 storeys into the air, make you wait, then drop you. Ha ha! Doesn't that sound fun? Obviously I was hepped up on adrenaline, because I said yes. Here is my recollection of the ride.

Amy's internal dialogue
Okay, we're strapped in and ready to go! Yay, we're going up!
Wait a minute. I just remembered something important.
I'm kind of very scared of heights.
Plus I get agoraphobic.
Oh my god, there is nothing but space around me right now.
Breathe, breathe.
We must be almost there by now.
Not yet?
I'm not going to panic, I'm not going to panic, oh my god we're still going up.
[Erik: Hey, look! You can see so far from up here! Amy, look at that. Are you looking? Amy?]
[Amy: No. I'm not looking.]
[Erik: How come?]
Okay, slow down, lungs. I'm just going to focus on that ride over there. I'm not taking my eyes off that ride. Nothing else exists but that ride.
[Erik: It's okay, Amy, you're not going to float away.]
[Erik: Geez, okay.]
I'm hanging on. Still looking at that ride. Oh, we've stopped. @$*%$ @#^% we are so high up.
I'm closing my eyes now.
Why did I do this?
Still closed.
Waiting to drop.
I think my brain is going to explode.
I'm faaaalllllllllllliiiiiiiiiiiinnnnnnngggggggg!!!!
Why are my eyes open?!
Save me, magic ride I've been staring at - you're supposed to be my lifeline!
Still falling!!!

I barely had the strength to push up my harness. I clung to Erik's arm and stumbled out of the ride, covered in sweat, ready to trade all my valuables for a promise that I'd never have to do that again.

The girls, of course, had prime seats to witness our return to Earth, and they were delighted to see our reactions. As they put it: "Daddy, your face was all red and you were screaming. Mom, you were pressed right back in your seat and you were white and you looked so scared."

The rest of the afternoon was spent on tamer fare, at least for me. Erik and Indy still went in for the exciting rides, but thankfully Stylish was keener on the quieter ones. Like a good mom, I stuck with her. Or she stuck with me. Either way, everyone was happy.

The park closed, and we trundled home. As we drove, we heard whispering in the back seat.

"Mom, Dad."
"We bought 7-day tickets, right?"
"Yes, because they were cheaper than the 1-day ones."
whisper, whisper
"So... maybe we could go back tomorrow?"

You let me know when they've added a sensible age limit to the Giant Drop. Then we'll talk.
At the start of a really fun day.

*Taken from the children's book "Pinkalicious" by Victoria Kann.


Little Red and the Wolf said...

Sounds awesome.

Karen Morris said...

What a super treat for the girls, well done family. Amy, I'm with you all the way. My knuckles were white just reading your account. I'm glad it all worked out!! Karen (Mrs. M)

Anonymous said...

What a fabulous family Outing. However, I am glad That Poppa & I were able to take a pass. Just thinking of that Drop Ride made me sweat.
Love Grannie