Monday, July 22, 2013

FTT Off-Topic: Small Moments of Pride

Not Seen: Abject Defeat
Really not sports this time.

Saturday was the youngest's birthday (she's 8), and since this happens in the depths of summer when no one is around and arranging a party is just an exercise in futility, we try to think creatively about such things. So we asked her what she wanted to do, and she said she wanted to go to Knoebels, and take her best friend from two doors down. Sold.

Knoebels, in case you aren't familiar with my patterns, is the best amusement park in the country, mostly because of what it is not. I've never waited more than 20 minutes for a ride there. I've never paid to park or enter. I've never left with the feeling that I'd been had, that parenting in the modern era is a zero-win game, that the people who run the enterprise are folks who I would not pee on if they were on fire. And that's because Knoebels is different.

It's family owned by the same folks who started it. It welcomes dogs and doesn't search your bag or cooler. You can bring in your own food if you like. Rides are usually done by tickets, which means that you never really sit there and do the math of how much you are being ripped off by waiting to do stuff. There are no VIP lines, no Special Privileges for the swells, no Better Food or Secret Handshake or any of that.

Instead, what you get is two world-class wood coasters. One very large and well done swimming and waterslide area. Two solid log flumes -- one big and drenchy, the other moderate and refreshing. One excellent Haunted House with banging doors. Two restored turn of the century carousels where you reach for the brass ring. The same Sans Irony entertainment acts of cover bands and performing miniature dogs. Kid thrill rides that are basically the same G forces at work as the adult ones, just with less oomph. Old-school whiplash-tastic bumper cars. Great and varied food for a pittance of the price you pay elsewhere. And all designed, basically, to get you coming back over and over and over again. I love the place.

Today, not so much.

We met up with a couple of friends and their younger kids and played tour guide for a bit. We brought our dog, who had a great day getting attention from strangers, but also limited the number of things we could do. We were jammed in the car for the 3-hour car ride back, and ran into traffic on the way back that made it four.

And our guest neighbor kid got sick twice, my right foot turned into an appendage of hate, and the eldest spent the day clutching her stomach, wanting to barf, but not able to. (I have no idea what got into either kid. Other than the fact that they are kids, aka Harbingers Of Disease and Death.) By the time 6pm rolled around, the earlier plan of a late-day swim following some coaster action had been covered in sawdust and disappointment, and I was limping them home on my suddenly horrible foot.

This is where, well, I get some clues that we're not doing a horrible job as parents. While both daughters were disappointed to have to go home "early", they didn't pule too hard about it. The eldest disguised her symptoms for much of the day, especially the larger and more public audience. The youngest didn't play any "But it's my birthday!" whines that would have just made the whole situation so much worse. The dog was friendly to all and didn't whimper or cause trouble. And the Shooter Wife kept clam and kept on, despite really not doing well in heat.

I love them all. They made a bad day tolerable. They made me want to take them back at the soonest feasible time. And they kept anyone from telling the story of how our special family place had been forever changed or ruined by an unlucky day.

Any family can be good when things go well. But if you've got one that soldiers on when things are going sideways? That's got to be a good sign, right? And well worth feet that I really want to amputate right now...

No comments:

Ads In This Size Rule