The roller coaster goes up and up – slowly. The click, click, click of anticipation as the roller coaster heads to its peak. And then, the dramatic drop leaves the thrill seekers at the bottom. The ride is over.
The ups and downs and peaks and valleys could serve as a metaphor for many things.
However, I am on vacation, so I am not going to go that deep.
My boys love the rides on the boardwalk or as SJ my 6.5 year old calls it, the carnival.
By the time we are within smelling distance of the funnel cake, curly fries, and popcorn, the boys are out of their heads with excitement. They dance as if their bladders are full while the ride tickets are being purchased.
I look around and see this same mix of excitement and anticipation etched into the faces of the many children who also have made their way to Castaway Cove. It is early in the night, and things are good.
My boys run (in opposite directions – but that’s another story) from ride to ride. I sit and watch BR go on the tilt-a-whirl, his favorite ride. I smile, wave, and play on my phone. I study his face trying to discern if he is enjoying himself.
He comes off the ride and smiles. He wants to go on the ride again and practically rips the tickets out of my hand. I don’t mind. He is happy, enjoying himself. This is vacation.
My wife calls. SJ is on the hurricane. She is nervous. But, he is loving it.
All is good. We are on vacation. The roller coaster is going up.
An hour passes. Other family members have joined us. The children continue going on rides. The bumper cars, high seas, big drop and another round of the tilt-a-whirl.
Our tickets are nearly done. One more ride is left. The boys notice. They are not happy! BR insists he wants to go on the flume again, but we do not have enough tickets. He is disappointed. And loses it.
I’ve seen it worse – much worse. But it’s still not pretty. Tears, insults – you’ve been there. Eventually, he ends up back on the tilt-a-whirl.
SJ exits Riptide and is told his night over. He is angry like a starting pitcher being removed from a no-hitter. I drag him out of Castaway Cove while Ms. MMK waits for BR at the tilt-a-whirl.
While we make our way out, I swear I see other kids in meltdown mode.
The roller coaster has surely come down.
Once outside and away from the lights, noises, and entertainment of Castaway Cove, the boys have calmed. They are contented with the knowledge that soon they will be having a treat (water ice as it is known in these parts).
As SJ and I walk back to the car, I wonder: is there ever a good time to leave Castaway Cove? Can you get out while the children are still happy and in a good place? Does leaving itself bring on a meltdown regardless of time and level of exhaustion?
I’m not sure. I just know the way down on the roller coaster leaves my stomach in knots. And leaving Castaway Cove is not much more pleasant.