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Stories, observations, and reflections from a life of raising boys

The First Summer Adventure

Jenifer DeMattia

Today we took our son to Adventure Park USA again. For no reason at all but that we really don’t have any big trips planned for the summer, just decided to have little adventures each week. He was so excited when we told him. He sang us cute songs on the car ride there. He and his dad held hands and skipped as I followed on the way in smiling at them while pushing his brother in the stroller. I imagine in the playback in my brain that all of this occurred in slow motion. Like we were running towards “National Lampoon’s Walley World” or something.

During our 4-hour stay my son smiled like a lunatic on the go-carts, the Scrambler, the Tilt-A-Whirl, the teacups, and the bumper cars. He ate ice cream, pizza, French fries, and a different kind of ice cream, and then more French fries. He danced under disco lights; he played a fishing game and won a stuffed sword. He played every arcade game they had. He whacked a shark, rode a motorcycle, drove Sponge Bob’s car, and was a helicopter pilot. He ate Mike and Ikes candy got a souvenir penny, and even got to run around with his shirt off. He had so much fun that he refused to use the bathroom. He had so much fun that he practically forgot to breathe. He had so much fun that he told us his day was awesome. No son, “You are awesome.” He didn’t object too terribly when it was time to leave and go home. In fact we were practically skipping on the way out too. What a day.

And then he passed by the prize counter that had lollypops behind the glass. “Please can I have a lollypop?” the angel-faced boy asks me. “No baby, you have had a lot of sweet stuff today”, I replied. Silly me I was still doing my happy walk. But the boy was not happy. He cried at the exit door. He cried all the way to the car. He cried as I put his seat belt on stating, “This is a very bad day.” He cried on the way home, and then to our relief, passed out 10 minutes before we arrived. As my husband carried him inside he woke up and started crying again because he did not get a lollypop at Adventure Park. At dinner, when we asked him if he had fun he replied, “Yes, but do you remember me not getting a lollypop?” And then he let loose his famous fake cry.

My husband and I used to get really bummed out when this kind of thing happened. When we dedicate a day to making our son happy. We have spent a lot of money on situations that end in disaster. But now we are experienced. Seasoned experts in the art of raising a wind-up-toy. He goes and goes and goes until he walks right off the ledge. He was tired and over stimulated and the fun was over. And our day was not ruined because we got to see our boy smile and laugh way more times than he cried. We watched him be fearless on the rides. We watched him handle the rejection of not being tall enough to ride the roller coaster. And he handled it like a champ. He had so much fun that when my husband finally got him to the bathroom before we left and turned our boy around to help him sit, the pee was already coming at all directions.

My husband’s souvenir from the day was urine on his shorts and shoes. But I’d have to say that my souvenir was ever-single picture I took of my little man enjoying his day. Every genuine expression, never once telling him to “smile”, or “say cheese”. Today I opened the jar, let the happy fly in, and then shut the lid tight. And I will keep it on my shelf forever.