Friday, July 29, 2011
I LOVE carnivals. There is something about riding thousands of pound of steel while moving 75 miles an hour toward concrete (see steel venom, valleyfair) that gets my blood going. I love the way I feel when I'm a hundred feet above the ground without shoes on, looking out over the landscape and that sharp breath I draw on the first drop. They could scream tract me for horror flicks. I am an involuntary screamer. My lungs hate me, as does my throat. Family amusement parks are never the fun filled promise they show on t.v There is no laughing couple holding hands while their angelic cherubs skip along to the next ride carrying balloons. Eye roll. Its more like "MOMCANWEGOONTHATRIDEONEMORETIMEGIVEMESOMEMONEYIWANTSODAIWANTTOPLAYGAMES THATCOSTFIFTYDOLLARSDADDYWINMETHATGIANTBANANAIWANTHOTDOGSANDCHEESECURDSANDFUNNELCAKESIMTIRED!!" And so it goes. But Chandler doesn't want anything. He avoids the rides with tears in his eyes. He looks at me, then the parking lot longingly and says "Car". Poor baby. He takes my hand, and I lead him around to a few acceptable easy going rides. I finally spy a bouncy house. Oh thank God. There is nothing he likes more than the freedom to jump into the air and land softly over and over. I send Luke over with Chandler in tow, grinning and bouncing toward the giant snoopy inflatable. Three minutes later I hear wailing, and I see them coming back toward me. "She said he's too tall, mom. He barely missed it. Without his shoes he would have.." Already, I am shooting daggers at the snoopy girl with my eyes. "What did you tell her?" I ask. "I told her he has autism and he can't talk, and he just wants to jump. She said we need a form. I just rolled my eyes at her and walked away." Chandler's face was streaming with tears. "Jump, jump" he repeated. I sat down on the bench with a heaving sigh, and stared at the large food menu sign to my right. I order fries, cheese curds, hot dog, milk, and a coke. He wants nothing to do with the food, shoving it forcefully away while his little brother is scarfing down handfuls of french fries. "I wike ketchup!" Sawyer says jovially. Chandler's wistful face is turned toward the giant snoopy. By now there has been an attendant swap, and there is a college age boy running the ride with a mopful of curls and a dimple in each cheek. I take Chandler by the hand,and lead him up the ramp. (God, please let this work or he will have a total meltdown). I am already slipping his sandals off. The ride stick comes out and the boy turns his head thoughtfully to the side. "Look", I say, "I paid full adult price for him to come in here. He hates everything we have ridden on. He has autism and cannot speak, and there is only two kids in there. Please....." My voice begins to crack. College boy moves the stick away, and lets Chandler into the snoopy spaceship. I kneel down to see him through the mesh screen. He is wiping his tears and grinning, and giggling. I don't even feel the cement digging into my bare skin. My tears are falling so much the snoopy house gets blurry. The boy is watching me curiously. The bouncy house timer has now gone past three minutes and he hasn't moved. There is no one else in line. I give him a thankful smile. I might be the only mom crying at Valleyfair from happiness and gratitude. And I would pay full price for him to spend a few precious minutes doing what he loves most.