Get Out While The Going is Good

  Courtesy of

Courtesy of

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.

15 thoughts on “Get Out While The Going is Good

  1. You’re right, the roller-coaster IS a pretty good metaphor for the way carnival days go. Sometimes it makes you think the best route is just to avoid the situation entirely. (But then you’d miss the fun, too.)

  2. Yesterday, as we were packing up the camping trip, our son witnessed an older boy having a tantrum that eventually pushed his father over the edge. I don’t think Caleb has ever seen another kid have a tantrum (he’s usually the one in melt-down mode), and I know he’s never seen a father get that angry at a kid. It was interesting to see his reaction to the situation. I’d like to think he learned something from someone else’s fit, but we’ll have to see. 🙂

    He did manage to leave the campsite in full control of himself.

  3. Oh my goodness – I remember those days! I don’t think there is ever a time you could leave and it would be the “right” time! Not when they are that age! They will grow out of it (I hope!!). But, I must know – what is water ice? Cause, uh, I think we might just call it a glass of ice water down here… 🙂

  4. ugh! castaway cove. that place is a nightmare. it’s always crowded. i prefer Wonderland.

    that being said…i never thought about whether there’s a “good” time to leave. i’m sure there is, but it’s a probably a really short window. and probably as elusive as it is short. otherwise? meltdowns…

    • We will be at Wonderland as well. Castaway has more rides for older kids and we are here with other family members.
      Anyway, I have accepted meltdowns. I think that window is so short and ant cant fit through.

  5. Oh vacations are so much fun! Except for the melt-downs …. I think its like a sugar buzz being on all those rides and then when they leave, it’s like a sugar crash. I usually try to set my son up for the ending like giving him a countdown of the time before we leave or let him know about the number of tickets left. This seems to help the melt-down because he’s aware of when we have to go. And when its the last one, I make a big deal about it … ok LAST ride and then we leave. For some reason this seems to help.
    Enjoy the rest of your vacation 🙂

    • I think you are right about the sugar crash.
      We also do the countdowns and make the promise of a treat. It can help a bit sometimes but often it’s not enough.

  6. oh! I understand them, I never wanted to leave when we went to “La Ronde” it’s a huge amusement park here! 🙂 & even in my late 20’s I still didn’t want to leave ha!ha! poor things but hope they enjoyed their “water ice” after! 🙂
    I wonder how Nate will be at that age! I’m sure he will be angry and sad too! (just like his mom) 🙂 hope you guys are enjoying your vacation! have fun! 🙂

    • I hope you did not pout and throw a Tantrum when you left La Ronde in your late 20’s. That would be kind of sad. Ha ha.
      We are enjoying our vacation – thanks.

  7. There’s never a good time to leave while the kids are having fun. It does get better as they get older and learn some control. Hope you’re still having a good vacation even as the roller coaster goes down on summer.

  8. Oh yes, I here you on this! It’s so wonderful taking my kids to the local amusement park here and seeing their smiling faces while we are in the swing of things going on all of the rides but when the last ticket is gone and the kids start whining and I start on a rant about how they should just feel lucky I brought them at all etc. It kind of ruins the mood and yet we continue to go every year!

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