This past weekend, my wife and I took the kids on a pilgrimage to Storyland. Storyland for those outside of New England, is a very scaled down version of Disney World and the like. Scaled in acreage, but not price mind you. It is a theme park that subscribes to bringing the stories of childhood to life. Mainly Grimm’s Fairy Tales, with a few others peppered in there. It is nestled within the White Mountains of New Hampshire, just north of North Conway, and you can find many a weary parent trudging the toddler troops through the entrance gates to capture all sorts of moments. Although, there was a fair amount of crying (mostly us adults on the inside), we were able to create a few great memories, that will allow us to practice some selective amnesia, and bring the brood to bear on these environs once more at a future date.
The fan-favorite, yet again, was the Bamboo Chutes Ride. This is your prototypical water flume/chute ride composed of winding turns, a hill or two, and a final ascent with a plunge into the waters below. I don’t know why we didn’t just spend the entire day going on this ride over and over and over. Our first son, Atticus, had previously been on this ride a few years ago, so he was an easy sell.
But, our daughter, Lenore, needed a bit more convincing. She had previously been on the raft ride, and didn’t like it very much.
Somehow, We were able to convince her to participate. I like that she is willing to try almost anything, and doesn’t want to be left out . I’d also credit the burgeoning sibling rivalry that has been developing between our kids as a factor in her not being upstaged in the ride tally at the end of the day.
So the three of us went into the waiting lines/stalls and moved along. My wife and toddler son, Paul, were able to view us from a shady bench nearby.
The anticipation was brutal for Atticus, and Lenore’s anxiety was palpable. She kept saying “Daddy, I scared, I scared!” I convinced her that it would be okay, and started talking about other things to take her mind off of the unknown.
In that moment, it occurred to me that this same conversation had occurred some 32-34 years ago at Canobie Lake, Whalom Park, Paragon Park, Lincoln Park, etc.
My father, Paul Hickey, and Uncle, Mike Hickey, were all-pros at convincing us kids that it was cool to go on the rides, no matter how scared we were. And, the funny thing, was after the elation that ensued upon the ride completing, we were eager to go back on. But, that trust, that trust right there, that was the foundation upon which we knew things would be okay. Simply, because they said they would be. Surely, it stuck, and allowed for us to belly up to anything that carnivals and theme parks could throw at us over the years.
A lightning bolt came out of the sky on Saturday, and hit me in my heart. It reminded me that sometimes the best amusements when at the amusement park, are the ones that are shared with the loves of our lives while waiting to face the certain uncertainty of the unknown.
The secret to life just might be in the conversational subterfuge between family and friends while waiting to get on rides. Those were the times, man. Those are the times, man.
Eventually, we got on the Log, and Atty was having a blast, and Lenore tucked herself into me to be sure that she was shielded from any danger. We made it through the first turn, then onward, and finally up the climbing hill. White Mountains all around us, blue skies, shudders, squeals, and then the final turn putting us into that moment of potential energy before gravity pulled us into the new discoveries of our hearts and joy. The screams were genuine, and full of life, and as we slowed upon our descent into the water below, it gushed all over us and mixed with our laughter and expressions. I felt the ease as the unfamiliar left my daughter, and she gained a bit of confidence that perhaps things aren’t so scary when shared with others.
It was a great day.