Sunday, June 26, 2011

Trip to the Amusement Park: Focus on the Kids

I am writing this while waiting for my children to shower for church on a Sunday morning. Yesterday we went to Kings Island, THE amusement park to conquer every summer if you live anywhere near Cincinnati, Ohio. We do, so it is a must. In the past 2-however old my teenage daughter is, her wonderful Auntie has taken her on this delightful trip. Her Aunt is in hiding right now, (you will have to visit my other blog Black, Divorced & Virtuous for more on that) and has left these trips to me. Oh, hurrah, hurrah!

Yes, my parents made these trips with me yearly. Yes, I hated them. The trips, not my parents. The only part I ever really enjoyed was the then Hanna Barbera Land (Yogi, Boo Boo?) that has subsequently been Nickelodeon World and, to the chagrin of my teenager, is now Planet Snoopy. That was my magical kingdom.

You can imagine the anxiety of planning a full day at the amusement park with my 13-year-old daughter, 7-year-old son and 6-year-old nephew. Oh, and my 77-year-old mom. That is 4 people with kid mentalities, and one adult between them. Jesus be a fence is my constant prayer. And on this occasion, He was.

I took the time to plan and pray. Then I didn't tell my Mom until 2 days before the trip. That was crucial, because if you know anything about the elderly, they begin to digress into many emotionally charged multiple personalities with names such as early onset dementia, early onset Alzheimer, fear of losing control, or just general eye rolling snappiness. Also, just happens to be that my mom LOVES Kings Island. As long as she is not forced to be in the heat without shade for too long, she is good. She loves the Safari ride and the shows more than anything.

Secondly, my sisters family went as well, so that gave the teenager riding partners. Freedom from teenage angst is a beautiful thing. God was extra awesome because the teenagers was feeling extra fly and looking extra teenage awesome, so she was on board for all kinds of extra helpfulness. Thumbs up on that end.

The next part of my plan was to focus my day on making sure the two boys had a good time, which could have been the dynamite that detonated the full day into tiny shards of discontent and balls of furious boy anger, . I believe this is where adults go wrong at amusement parks. Yes, you have to refocus your kids from all the marketing efforts to get your money, but you have to focus your attention on making sure your kids are having a great time. It helped that we went with my sisters job, so we had discount tickets and they provided our lunch. We carried water, Gatorade and the like, and my kids already know they get to choose one item to take home with them, but the amusement park is about having family fun, not retail therapy. Getting that straight with your family is important at the start. So, with all that done, I stayed focused on these two little boys who held the key to our good day.

We had a couple near melt downs. My son wanted to ride a twisted tunnel water ride;(which would have ruined my hair and cause me a mental breakdown, but I was gonna do it) I went all the way to the very front of the line with him where he decided it was too scary and we had to walk all the way back down the climbing metal staircase. Me -Not happy. Him, hand holding with Mommy who actually was gonna ride that monster with him.

My nephew won a key battle between his early start at the beach or my moms safari ride to see live animals. She gave in because he was as obstinate as she, and I just stepped back and let them stare each other down. I even tried my one phone call for assistance - his "Nanny Girl". She was a fail. He won and we headed to the wave pool with the rest of the family. I parked my mom on a chaise under a shaded umbrella, where she was most satisfied to people watch and locate folks who were on Jerry Springer, "I Swear", or should be on Jenny Craig, while playing with my 8 month old niece.

Planning and focus paid off. We had an awesome time; so much so that the boys slept all the way home, and the Mom was so satisfied. Now, when I want to ride roller-coasters, I will leave the kids at home with the Mom, and take a rider to Cedar Point - the other amusement park you HAVE to conquer if you live in Ohio.  

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