Monday, August 3, 2015


 Chris: "At the end of the day, which memory do you want to have? The one where you were too scared to do what challenged you or the one where you kicked its butt?"

Life is full of choices. In fact, lines at an amusement park are full of life lessons. Observation is the key, and honestly, who doesn't like to take in a good people watching session?

First up are the Thrill Seekers. They are buzzing from their last conquests of the highest roller coasters in the park. They are on top of the world and can't wait to go back to do it again once their stomachs return to the proper alignment in their bodies. They'll convince anyone on the edge of trying it to just do it. You only live once and you never know until you try!

Behind them are the Ghost Riders. Their faces tell their stories. They are the ones who tried it to say they tried it, but will never get within 200 yards of the entrance to the ride again. And if you try to ask them about it, they'll stare blankly at you for a few awkward moments before answering, "It was the scariest thing I've ever been on, BUT, I'm glad I did it."

Next up are the Planners. They sit together talking about their NEXT big adventure in the park while waiting to complete the one they're waiting to start. Always looking one step ahead, never fully enjoying the moment in which they are standing.  

Then there are the Hemmers and Hawers. They sit and listen. If someone mentions one of the rides they've been carefully considering for hours, they'll ask about it. "How was it? Scary?" The danger for these people is that their decisions are based on the general concensus, rather than searching within themselves.

Finally,  there are the Naysayers. They stay on the same two rides all day.  They know every twist and turn that will be thrown at them. They're ready. To spice up their day, they rebelliously sit on the handrail and don't get down when it's asked of them 20 times over the scratchy sound system.  

So, as we entered King's Dominion with our 48 inch girl and 53.5 inch boy, we were ready to take it all on together. We are the Thrill Seekers. Well, three-quarters of us were that is. Always keeping us guessing, our "finally able to ride the big roller coasters" girl was not having it. She appeased us by going on the first coaster called the Grizzly. When it finished, she joined Team Ghost Rider.

To be honest, as the parents of the girl who took on The Tower of Terror at age THREE with such confidence and sass, we were completely baffled. This was also the child who cried watching her brother go on roller coasters last year, begging us to stuff her shoes to boost her the final two inches she needed. Now, the moment she waited for "her whole entire life" was here...and she was frozen. Switching teams on us. 

After trying to talk to her about it, rationalize her fear, reassure her she would not get hurt, remind her of how much fun she had in past and how sad she was she missed those adventures, she would not budge.  We urged her to actually sit on one of the coasters with the option of walking through if she couldn't do it. That happened multiple times. She had made up her mind. And so we let her have her moment. 

But, then, my husband said the above words to both the kids. It stuck with our 53.5 inch boy (one-half an inch too short for the tallest coaster in the park). All day he rode the top level thrill rides with excitment and ease. But, being a sensitive guy, he also empathized with his sister's new found fear. So, he took the time to go on rides WITH her as well. We warmed her up. We started small. He helped us rebuild her confidence.

After an hour of this, Chris and I decided to switch off and ride some of the restricted-to-our-kids coasters. As we waited for him, the kids and me found a ride that was a step above the others. The Bad Apple. It was high. It twisted. And most importantly, it was HER decision. She was hooked. When we got off, she was ready.

Something clicked. So, we went with it and let her lead the way to her next conquest. Much like the Bad Apple, she chose The Scrambler. It was fast. It jolted you around violently. It was a blast!

It was her favorite...UNTIL...

The Stunt Coaster. This was her first attempt on another coaster after the Grizzly...and many hours. It seemed harmless. There were no big drops, no loops, no rickety motions. However, it was FAST. And once the speed started, it didn't let up for the full course. Sitting behind her and Chris, I couldn't see her face. When we finished, she threw her arms in the air and screamed AGAIN! Her brother wasted no time convincing her that if she could do that one, she could do The Anaconda (his favorite at the time). 

She considered it for a minute, and then repeated what Chris had told her earlier.
"Okay, Tuck, I'll try it. Cause if I don't, I'll never know if I would have liked it." 

After one time riding The Anaconda, she was back to team Thrill Seeker. Four times later, she was leading the way. Not only did her bravery really make an impact on us, but also her brother. Our 53.5 inch boy had been going back and forth about one ride in particular all day.  A 305 foot tower drop. He was tall enough, but not sure he had the guts to do it. I think watching his sister really inspired him, because not soon after, he announced, 

"Okay. I'm gonna do it. I'm going on the Drop Tower." 

With that, he marched himself into the line. Chris followed in amazement and off they went. Soon they were loaded onto the ride and after they were checked and double checked by the park employees, Tuck mouthed to me, "I can't believe I'm doing this." 

 I watched them rise up higher and higher. I was dying from anticipation waiting to see his reaction after the release and free fall. I didn't have to wait long. 

He got off the ride screaming, "YES! YES! I'm so glad I did that!" 

We soaked in every single minute of that park's open hours. At 9:45, fifteen minutes before closing, we ran to our final ride. There we sat on the Stunt Coaster, where all four of began together as Team Thrill Seeker, ending our day in absolute victory. 

Thanks, King's Dominion. We came. We made memories. 
We challenged ourselves. We kicked butt!

Goooooo, Team Thrill Seekers!