Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The 48 inch rule

Our family spent a four-day weekend in the Cities to do the amusement park thing. Zach and I don't do rides. But the two middle children LOVE them. And this was the first year that Ethan, our 7-year-old was tall enough to ride the "big boy" rides.

However, just because he is tall enough doesn't mean I think he is old enough. 

This story is really about my epiphany...

Roller coasters scare me. I don't like the feeling of dropping a hundred or so feet at a sharp angle. I don't even like falling off the high dive. I'm not afraid of heights... I just don't like the falling feeling. My biggest fear in life is that someday I'll have to jump out of an airplane as ransom to get my children back. I'll do it, but I won't want to.

Zach likes roller coasters even less than I. He has told us that if he had to ride a roller coaster to save our lives...

He wouldn't do it. He'd rather see us dead.

Fortunately, this means I have someone to hang out with when we go to Valley Fair. 

Ethan was determined to ride the Wild Thing - a 207 foot drop at a 60 degree angle roller coaster that makes me ill just looking at it. I told Paul I didn't think he should go on it. It might be a bit too scary. Paul seemingly agreed...


Until, that is... I was sitting on a bench at the other end of the park waiting for the water park to open... when I got a text message from Paul saying that "they" were at the Wild Thing.

Me: "Ethan?!" I texted back.

No response.

I turned to Zach.

Me: If your father takes Ethan on that roller coaster - I am going to just lose it.

Zach: Why?

Me: Because - it is dangerous! Ethan isn't THAT big.

Zach: He's 48 inches... he's big enough.

Me: But he's too young!

Zach: But if he wants to...

If he wants to? If he WANTS to? What does that mean? He doesn't want yet... does he? I decide - right? I mean, just because he is 48 inches tall, he gets to make decisions about his life? Who made up that rule!?

I haul Zach across the park to where the Wild Thing lives.

And, by God... I found my boys... including my 7-year-old fresh off the ride. Ethan was red-faced and smiling.

My baby rode a huge roller coaster...

.... and loved it.

In fact, by weekend's end... he had ridden every ride that absolutely scares the hell out of me. 

At Nickelodean Universe he road the "Rock Bottom Plunge- Which is a 97 degree angle 67 foot plunge. O.M.G. - who is this child?

And who let him grow up?

And what's going on? And I'm going to be 43 in October...and my eldest is in 10th grade and in three years when Paul and I celebrate our 20-year wedding anniversary he'll be graduating and my second one will be in high school and the third will be just a year away...

And what the hell!

Even though I could see my boys growing taller and getting older... it still was okay - because I had Ethan. Ethan was my baby and he plays that role quite well. But all of a sudden, he didn't want to be the baby anymore. In fact when I hugged him after his ride on the "Wild Thing" he said...

Ethan: Why are you hugging me so much?

Me: Because you are my baby and I was worried about you on that big roller coaster.

He pulled away

Ethan: I am not a baby anymore, mom. I am a big boy now.

I stood there and stared at him as he walked over to his older brothers to relive the experience.  

Who decided that 48 inches makes a baby not a baby anymore. And how come he knew about that rule...

and how come no one told me? 

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