Hindsight Parenting: Quality Experiences at the Amusement Park
Slowing Down—A Speedy Hindsight Lesson
I quite often malign the fact that I am a 44 year old woman with a three year old. It isn’t just that I am not as spry as I was when in my twenties or thirties, it is the fatigue from my blasted heart condition, it is the foggy brain from the medicine I take, it is the aches and the pains that attach themselves to me with every stress that comes with having two teenage boys, and it is the mental exhaustion that sometimes comes with wisdom. Having my friend Hindsight has been an irreplaceable tool while parenting my daughter Ila, but the constant realization that what I DID the first time needs adjusting the second time around can be tiresome…
However, lately, due to some health concerns, I have had to embrace slowing down. I am re-evaluating what I deem necessary and have been cutting out stressors. Words like meander, saunter, rest, meditate and relax have become terms that are integral parts of my life now. I have stopped resisting the physical and mental fatigue and instead have tried hard to embrace it. And although that has been a difficult process (because by nature and societal expectations, mothers need to do it all right away…in heels, otherwise their children will suffer) it became quite apparent two days ago that on the contrary, slowing down would not only benefit me, but benefit Ila as well.
Amusement parks by nature are supposed to bring happiness, jolly times, fun, and excitement—amusement–to the families that walk through their gates. However, when I was a spry twenty or thirty something mama, I looked at them as something to conquer. We were going to ride every ride, get a front row seat for every show, slay every line, eat every meal as a character experience, go, go, go, go, do, do, do, do…There was NO time to stop…we even had an amusement park hustle…because after all, if we were going to tackle everything, we’d have to move quickly. Looking back, (as I often do) although we DID get it ALL done, I am not sure how amused we were. There instead was a palpable tension.
Last week we took Ila to her first amusement park, Sesame Place in Pennsylvania, which is designed with the preschooler in mind. As we approached the gate, I kicked my stride into our amusement park hustle…for about three steps. I was stopped by my husband’s hand on my arm and a comment that pulled me up short. “Remember, if you push yourself, you are going to be too tired to enjoy this in a couple of hours.”
As much as I didn’t want to admit it, he was right, and so the hustle turned into a stroll. Lo and behold, there ahead of me was an entire amusement park. It was the first time I could remember SEEING a park. (the head-down-hustle kind of takes one out of the moment). Realizing that my slow stroll provided me with a different perspective of the park woke up a sleepy Hindsight who whispered that perhaps slowing down would ALSO provide me with a different experience with my child as well. And, as usual, he was right.
The day became less about conquering all, riding every ride, slaying every line, eating every meal with a character. It instead became about Ila and what she wanted from the experience. We laughed as she squealed riding the many spiraling circles on her first roller coaster ride. We sat on a bench for few minutes so she could regain her equilibrium after the ride. We saw a show and sat in the second row. We spent over an hour in the air conditioned café making a lunch that we brought with us and savoring the homemade character based cupcakes that were purchased as a treat. While at the table, Ila peppered us with questions about the other rides. She asked to look at the map, wrinkling her nose, tongue out to the side as she made the decision that we’d go to the water park due to the heat index being in the low 100’s (“Mommy it is hot-to-trot outside!”).
And so off we went to the sparkling, colorful, enticing water rides. Although there were massive slides, and rambling rivers and spray grounds galore, Ila settled on a teeny tiny wave pool. And it was there that we stayed…for two hours, the three of us taking in the sun in the cool foot and half deep water. It was there that we played mermaid family and pretended to be crocodiles. It was there that we relished the breeze that cooled our upper torsos, and it was there that I realized that our slow approach to the day brought about an awareness and a familial closeness that could have never taken place had I done the amusement park hustle that I was capable of in my twenties and thirties. It was there that I was grateful, so very grateful for the wisdom and physicality of my age.
Driving the four hours home, I had a chance to reflect on the day that so many years ago would have been considered an epic fail. More than half of the park wasn’t experienced and yet what WAS experienced was invaluable time together. Taking our time, letting our daughter lead, slowing down was a super speedy way to acquire another Hindsight lesson—it isn’t the quantity of the experiences but the quality of each experience that strengthens a family.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Logan has lived in Glens Falls, NY all her life. By day, she is an educator with 20 years experience, a mom to Aidan and Gannan, her two teenage boys, a new mommy to a beautiful daughter, Ila, and wife to the love of her life, Jeffrey. By night, weekends and any spare time she can find, Logan writes. She loves memoir and also adores writing essays about the challenges of parenthood. This year she started a parenting blog called A Muddled Mother, an honest place where mothers aren’t afraid to speak of the complications and difficulties that we all inevitably experience. Logan has been published in various children’s and parenting magazines including Today’s Motherhood, Eye on Education, Faces, and Appleseed. Logan’s previous column for Hilltown Families, Snakes and Snails: Teenage Boys Tales ran bi-monthly from June 2010-Feb. 2011, sharing stories of her first time around as a parent of two teenage boys. — Check out Hindsight Parenting: Raising Kids the Second Time Around every first and third Tuesday of the month.