There are certain times in a dad’s life where his jeans will need to be pulled up and his belt tightened… For me, a day at the fair was one of those times:
Back when the sands of time were warm, the sun shined bright, and the days were long:
This isn’t happening. There is no way this is happening. My feet belong on the ground.
Nope. This is definitely not happening. If God wanted us to go around in circles or be carried up into the sky he would have given us the ability to fly like a bird. Gravity has laws for a reason. People are not meant to be suspended in the air for any length of time, let alone the… 6, 7…8 hours it takes for everyone to find a seat.
“Daddy, Daddy, Daddy, Daddy! Can we go on the ferris wheel?”
I will sheepishly admit that I do not like carnival rides. I don’t mind water park rides as there is something different about them. Maybe there is comfort in the water, like the serenity of the lazy river or maybe there is comfort in the fact that the drops are more of a gentle descent instead of a stomach-churning drop into oblivion…
Or maybe it’s just the sheer fear of knowing that what comes up has to come down. Whatever the reason, carnival rides are just…No… just no.
My feet are planted on the ground. Roller coasters, wheerlie-thingy-mabobbers, loopdie-loo’s, and vomit-inducers; no thank you. Upside down, inside out, up and down roud-a-bouts: I’m screaming like a baby!
The only problem is I have 3 girls that love rides (thank the LORD to a certain extent). My wife wasn’t feeling well that day and daddy isn’t afraid of anything (as I overheard from previous conversations) so the ride-sharing fell to me.
First up: Up and Down Round-A-Bout
My two older daughters full of giggles and glee are sitting near the back while my youngest daughter and I are near the front. I reassure her that this will be fun and exciting, although I think that was more for my own comfort. The roller coaster starts up slowly, creaking around a bend, I’m wondering how old is this thing and is it safe?
My thoughts are interrupted by an up-coming vomit-inducing drop….Uh-OH…. whew that wasn’t so bad… We’re slowly going up, and around…OH-NO! This is a biggun…
For my daughter’s sake I grit my teeth, throw my hands in the air and shout “WEE (I wanna go HOME!!)!” My stomach was left behind as the ride went down. Just…keep…smiling….
The drop is done within 2 seconds. It wasn’t even a drop really…more of a slope… a slope that would have no momentum unless powered by generators and electricity. My stomach returns to normal.
I look over at my daughter who doesn’t appear phased by this ride at all, she’s even smiling… A real smile.
My amazement is shaken back to reality as I turn into a human bobble head when the ride rounds a curve at race car speeds…
Finally, we get to the starting point. Thank the LORD, the ride is over…wait… Dude… What are you doing? We’re here…Stop the ride, my daughter doesn’t like it. We’re done… We’re going again? NNNOOOO!!- Ah man here comes the first drop…. Ahhh!! And then we go again and again. 5 minutes later when the ride is finally over my daughter says, “Daddy, that was fun!”
Oh take me home, take me home! Good thing these rides are limited to the amount of tickets you have…Wait… What?? This is a company sponsored event featuring unlimited rides?…….
“Daddy! Daddy! Let’s do this one!”
This one? Really? It’s a clown car… It’s smaller than a clown car. I don’t even think you could fit clowns in it. If a clown can’t climb into it…Then how am I supposed to?… Wait… Hold on. There is a sign that says: If You Are This Tall Then You Can Ride Alone (or something like that).
“Good news girly, you don’t NEED daddy to ride this one. You’re tall enough to do it all by yourself.”
“Ok daddy! Meet you when it’s over!” With a face full of smiles, my daughter eagerly climbs in to a car. Though it’s slower than the giant Merry-Go-Round, my daughter appeared to enjoy every minute of it. Smiling and waving like a princess one minute, then fiercely turning the steering wheel like a race car driver the next minute. The ride is nearing the end, when all of a sudden,
Thoughts swirled in my:
-Oh goodness… Is my daughter okay? What happened? Oh no, oh no!
-Um… dude… this ride went in circles and turtles moved faster than this ride…
-We’re going home, now… this ride isn’t safe… If this ride isn’t safe then, nothing is…
Jarring my thoughts was the excitement of my daughter;
“Daddy! That was fun! Can I do it again?”
“Sorry girly, the ride broke and they have to fix it.”
“Okay, let’s go do something else!”
A bouncy slide, an obstacle course, and a motorcycle ride later, we met up with my wife and our 2 oldest daughters and their friend.
“What should we do next?” They ask.
I should have said: I think we should leave… these rides aren’t safe,.
Instead, I said “It’s up to you girls.”
Then, the inevitable happens. My daughters and I’m pretty sure my wife too, had been eyeing this ride since we arrived. It’s wondrous size… It’s mesmerizing movement… The panoramic views. Everything about it drew my daughters in.
The Ferris Wheel had been calling them for a while now. I tried to avoid it at all costs. Suggesting other rides or trying to walk through the animal stables again… Anything to keep our feet on the ground.
Eventually, all things circled back to the Ferris Wheel.
“Daddy! Can we Puullleeeeaasee do the Ferris Wheel?”
One puppy eyed look from a daughter is hard enough to resist but when three daughters and their friend give me the look…
“Sure…If that’s what you really want to do…”
Wait…doesn’t anyone remember the ride that just broke… the ride that…appears… to be working again? Anyone?
The wait was excruciating…. I’m pretty sure at one point, one of my daughter’s complained that I squeezed her hand too tightly.
My stomach disappeared as I watched the ginormous wheel go around in circles…I saw heads peering over the side, feet dangling… risk-taking rule benders slightly rocking the chair…
Ugh… I feel last night’s dinner trying to make its way up… There’s no way I can do this… Birds belong in the sky, not people… My feet are planted. I’m not moving, you can’t make me.
Then, the point of no return arrived as I heard the attendant say,”Okay girls step on on. Watch your step sir…”
Sir? Dude, if you’re calling me ‘sir’ surely I’m too old for this.
“Keep your hands inside the chair at all times. Remain seated until the ride is over.”…
My heart thumped so loud I didn’t hear the rest of what he said. My hands were sweaty. My pulse pounded as my eyes got lost on the sights around me…
Rusted nuts. Warped bolts. Creaking, clanking noises as the Ferris Wheel began its never ending journey into the sky…
The last ride that creaked and clanked broke down… Um is this ride safe?.. Maybe I should just take my girls off the ride… Nope… Can’t do it…. Because we’re hundreds… Thousands of feet in the air…. Stopping… Then starting again… Then stopping… Then the wheel keeps going, reaching the sky…
just don’t look over the edge and I’ll be okay… Whoops! Too late for that.
Yep. Last night’s dinner is definitely coming back up.
“Daddy, what’s wrong?” I heard one of my girls ask. The concern in her eyes gives way to a nervous look… If daddy’s nervous then maybe there’s reason to be nervous…
I released my white-knuckled grip…
Be brave… Be very brave… And pray… Since that’s what I always tell my daughters to do…Dear LORD…HELP ME!
“Nothing girly… I’m just…”
Breathe in. Now breathe out… relax a little… This is a slow ride, no drops… No upside down loopdie-loos… Just a slow ride that goes in circle…
“I’m just enjoying the view. Isn’t it amazing!” She relaxes and smiles looking at everything.
The puffy clouds, the wide expanse of the bright blue sky… The families far below…
It is amazing isn’t it. I could get used to this… Maybe… I mean we are pretty high up… And it’s a looooonnggg way down… And we’ve been up here for an eternity… Nope… I’m shutting my eyes and I’m not letting go until we’re on the ground…