Watching your children grow up is not exactly easy. As each day passes, another milestone is reached. They learn their ABC’s, they learn to use the potty, they learn to tie their shoes, they learn to ride one of the most thrilling rides in Disney history….wait…I might be getting ahead of myself.
My husband Rob and Daughter Cammi (who is 6 years old) are frequent visitors to Walt Disney World in Florida. We have been taking Cammi since she was a baby. You might say that she has become quite the expert little tour guide when it comes to theme park adventures. Until recently, the visits have been filled with fantasy and whimsy. Well, that all changed when Cammi said, “hey mom and dad…I really want to ride that space ride”. That space ride, we thought? Buzz Lightyear…Stitch’s Great Escape? Nope, it was the big one….yes…SPACE MOUNTAIN!
Rob, who does not “do” roller coasters, instantly says…”that’s mom’s job, I don’t do roller coasters”. So I turn to Cammi and tell her, “that’s a roller coaster, you don’t really wanna ride that”. “Yes I do”, she yells while jumping up and down! My heart began to sink as I suddenly realized that my cute, innocent little girl was now a thrill seeker.
Of course we gave in, because it’s Disney World and it’s where the magic happens. I’ll tell you that magic started to fade away as the mountain grew larger and larger as we inched closer and closer. The entire time, I am trying to come up with ways to talk her out of it…but my persuasions only increased her excitement, along with her pace. My last chance was the “you have to be this tall to ride this ride” measuring stick. Fingers crossed…she stepped up…my last shot was blown into smithereens. Cammi’s little victory of course was highlighted with a small fist pump. Onward we go!
The queue isn’t that long…wait seriously, the queue is always long. Nope not today, not when I need time for her to chicken out. We just move right along, right up to boarding. Now the terrible thoughts begin racing through my mind. She has to sit all alone in her seat! What if she gets scared? What if she gets motion sickness and throws up…she’s gonna throw up! No wait, even worse, What if she falls out…she’s gonna fall out! We can’t do this, we have to get out, we have to….
So I’m not sure if any of you have ever experienced Xanax before, but it’s a lovely, soothing, make everything happy little pill, that’s a wonderful asset to have in stressful situations. Now don’t get me wrong, I love this ride! It’s dark, it’s fast, it’s crazy and it’s fun….but not now…not at this moment! I have no Xanax, everyone (in my mind) is looking at me, judging me, wondering why I have just strapped this tiny little girl into a rocket ship…destination…Scream your head off! It’s ok though…I can maintain.
Now the seating arrangements (single seats, one behind the next), did give Cammi a moment of concern prior to boarding. “You still wanna do this”? “Oh yea, let’s do it, I’m fine”, was her reply through a slightly fearful facade. So there we sat, mom scared to death. Luckily, I was able to sit behind her and reach forward just enough to put my hands on her shoulders.
Whoosh! We’re off! I feel her scrunch down into a little ball, where she remained through the rides entirety. Space Mountain doesn’t have huge drops or inversions. It’s thrill exclusively comes from dark, fast mystery. It’s a fear of the unknown. It’s also a terrifying first roller coaster experience for a parent to have with a child. She remained mostly silent, clinched into her protective little cocoon, only releasing a tiny little scream here and there. My biggest fear was not knowing and not seeing her. The only comfort I had was my fingertips on her shoulders. I wanted to believe that it was enough assurance for her to feel ok throughout the experience.
Space Mountain is a fairly short ride, though it seemed like an eternity at the time. After climbing and falling, twisting and turning, zigging and zagging, the ride finally began to slow its pace nearing it’s return to earth. I felt her head lift from it’s sunken perch, so I yelled up to her…”are you alright”? “That was awesome”, she yelled back! Slowly my heart began to slide back into my chest. We made it!
We came to a complete stop and she climbed out of the seat. She starting bouncing along to the exit with her chest puffed up with pride. She was so proud of her accomplishment. My legs on the other hand were not as excited. They finally stopped shaking after half an hour.
Ok, time to do something nice now like meet Ariel…I need a Xanax!