Tonight we took our boys to Lakeside Amusement Park and, as we walked around, I realized that it was their first amusement park visit. Well, we did take them to Disneyworld when they were 3 and 5, but since they were both so small we didn’t get to ride as many of the rides. Oh, sure. We’ve let them ride on coasters and log rides in the Mall of America and on those small, portable coasters they set up for fairs, but for the most part my boys have been devoid of amusement park memories. I started to feel a bit bad about it.
Then, as we were in line for the Wild Chipmunk, I got a reminder about why we haven’t been in a hurry to take them. Our boys are tiny. Both have late spring birthdays. Both have been under the 25th percentile in height from the very beginning. We gave both of them a chance to attend junior kindergarten so they could catch up in stature. Still, both boys are the oldest and the smallest in their classes. It doesn’t make much sense to me. Hubby and I are considered to be average height. And, yet, our children are borderline Oompah Loompah (they’re just missing the orange skin and white hair). As we were waiting for the Wild Chipmunk, the roller coaster Luke had been dying to ride, a park employee came by and delivered the disappointing news. Luke was 4 inches too short to ride. He cried. It broke my heart. And THIS is why we don’t take them to amusement parks, I thought.
Then, I thought about it again. Luke did get to ride quite a few other rides. He loved the Tilt-A-Whirl and had a blast in the Labyrinth Crystal Palace. He rode the Matterhorn and the Scrambler multiple times. He had a blast flying his own little plane on the Satellite. He even rode with Joe on Joe’s favorite ride, the Ferris Wheel. (Seriously. The Ferris Wheel. What 11 year old kid loves that ride?) And, he would have missed all of that if I’d kept him from going to the park tonight. Then I realized he would have missed more than that. He would have missed the opportunity to face disappointment and to work at getting beyond it.
I need to do a better job at giving my kids room for disappointment and freedom. They need to be able to deal with adversity and heartache, responsibility and reward. How are they going to do that if I don’t allow them small opportunities to build their skills? So, as hard as it was to watch his heart break, I’m glad I let my barely over 4 foot tall Luke attend this privately hosted night at Lakeside, courtesy of my college roommate Michelle who proffered the invitation. It was a good experience. Life is full of “you must be this tall to ride” experiences. Sometimes we don’t measure up. But, you can judge a person’s true stature by how they deal with their disappointment. In time, I hope Luke’s experiences on the short side prove that he’s actually 7 feet tall.