Out of Step With Adventure-Loving Family
July 28, 2007
Maybe it’s because I bit my tongue hurtling down Space Mountain on my first trip to DisneyLand that I do not like roller coasters. Or maybe it’s because, since becoming a mother, I get queasy on playground swings.
Whatever the reason, the last place I would choose to spend my summer holiday is in a theme park where I have to fork over the equivalent of a month’s worth of groceries so I can be strapped into a primitive version of a golf cart and sent careening up and down man-made mountains while my stomach comes unglued, followed shortly thereafter by my mind.
Sadly, neither my husband nor our two children share my sensitivity. And as we were going to be in southern California in early July, a visit to DisneyLand with its countless roller coasters was inevitable. I had no leverage. After all, the reason we were going to California in the first place was for a reunion of my extended family.
The unspoken message was, “If we have to spend a week with your relatives, most of whom live as far from each other as possible for obvious reasons, then you can survive two days in DisneyLand with us.”
I spent the months leading up to the trip trying to remind myself what I liked about DisneyLand, but the only thing I could come up with was that you can walk down the middle of Main Street without being hit by a car. I tried to push from my mind the very real possibility that I could still be run over by a stroller, a wheelchair, or a motorized scooter.
By the time we arrived at the Lion King parking lot at 9 a.m. on a Wednesday morning, I’d resigned myself to spending much of my visit sitting on a bench (another positive: DisneyLand has many, many benches). I brought my journal so I’d have something to do. My mother brought a book – plagued by Parkinson’s, Rheumatoid Arthritis, and sciatica, she doesn’t need to go on scary rides: her life is a health care roller coaster. My father-in-law, who actually did wind up going on a couple of roller coasters, brought a newspaper.
My mother-in-law didn’t bring anything but a remarkably positive attitude. “When I go on roller coasters, I hunker down, close my eyes, and pray for the ride to end,” she said cheerfully as she headed off to the first wild ride, thus robbing me of the opportunity to point out that perhaps she should be joining my mother and me on the bench instead.
A half hour later, she and the rest of the family returned, happy and intact.
“It was so much fun!” my children cried. “You have to come!”
I looked to my husband and my in-laws for support. “It’s really mild,” they insisted.
They were wrong. I didn’t just hunker down, I squeezed my eyes shut so tightly that they hurt, gripped the safety bar while everyone else joyfully threw their arms into the air, and tried to ignore the feeling of my stomach filling with a noxious gas, all the while hoping that the gas would find its way to my head and I’d pass out before the ride ended.
I couldn’t bring myself to go on another roller coaster, nor could I convince my children to join me in the less misery-inducing activities, such as a demonstration of sourdough bread baking.
“This is an amusement park, Mom!” my 11-year-old daughter reminded me. “I can make bread at home.”
“Boring!” my son complained when I suggested the “It’s a Small World” ride.
“Exactly,” I said, and then I reminded my adventure-loving family that the 12-minute musical ride down a gentle fake river is also air-conditioned. And in southern California in July, air-conditioning trumps boring, even for people who love roller coasters. But especially for those who don’t.