Monday, June 15, 2015

The Roller Coaster or the Merry-Go-Round?

"See that tower?" my husband asks as we drive into town. "The one with the spike on the top? That's called the Stratosphere and on top of that spike is a roller coaster that shoots you straight up."

We're in town for a conference. Well, he's going to the conference. The kids and I are having a bit of fun. I've never been to Vegas with kids before, and I'm trying to figure out how to see things without...seeing things, if you catch my drift. As soon as my husband points out the Stratosphere, I think, Please oh please oh please don't want to go on roller coasters.

The last roller coaster I was on was just a few months ago at Disneyland. Space Mountain. But in my mind that doesn't really count as a roller coaster. Maybe because it's dark, and there's a theme and because I like to pretend I actually am on a rocket zooming through space. But when you turn on the lights, there's miles of track, just like every other roller coaster.

I used to be crazy about roller coasters. In high school, the marching band (yes, I was a band geek) would take trips to Six Flags over Magic Mountain and my friends and I would ride the biggest, scariest rides over and over again.

But something happened somewhere along the line. I lost my love for roller coasters.

Maybe it was having children that changed me. Maybe maternal instinct warns me away from strapping my body into a small car and hurtling it along a track at break-neck speeds. Or maybe it's just that I'm older and my body doesn't take the blows as easily as it once did. Whatever the reason, when my husband pointed out the Stratosphere, my reaction was dread. Ugh. The kids are going to want to do all the coasters and I'll have to do them with them and ugh, just ugh.

Imagine my surprise, then, when the kids' reaction was, "No! We are not going on that!"

Which was followed by a sense of...disappointment. I mean, roller coasters are fun. And kids should experience that kind of fun, right? If not when you're a kid, then when? Part of me felt like I should just declare, "We are going on one!" and make them.

Back at Disneyland, we had to coax both kids onto Space Mountain. They were so scared. Big, worried eyes. Hands nervous fidgeting. "Trust me," I'd say. "You're going to love it."

And they did.

But...I don't know. Space Mountain is one thing. Being shot into the sky atop a super tall building is quite another. In my mind, at least.

It makes me think of a video I saw the other day of the new Boeing 787 Dreamliner making a near-vertical take off. Here it is in case you haven't seen it:

Yeah. I feel the same about flying as I do about roller coasters. Watching this video made me queasy--like the thought of riding a roller coaster makes me queasy--but I also can't help but think, Dang, that looks like fun.

There's a lesson in here, for them and for me. Maybe for you. Something having to do with the fragility and unpredictability of life. The ups and downs, the twists and turns. About deciding between the safe road and the adventurous one. Maybe even something about the ride being more fun when you can't see the track ahead. It reminds me of that scene from the movie Parenthood, where the grandmother tells her roller coaster story. 

I definitely think I'm more of a roller coaster person than a merry-go-round person, though. How about you?


  1. Ha ha, I'm definitely a Merry Go Round sort of girl. Also, I had parents who never seemed to have the motion sickness issues that I have, and were big into making me ride rides. I guess now I know they had my best interests at heart and weren't intentionally trying to torture me.