Written by Emily
Before I had children, I liked amusement parks. A few things have happened since then: My germsense has heightened to Bat Sense on steroids making it impossible to unsee the layer of grime collecting since the park opened in 1927. My body has undergone a hormonal shift, so I’m pretty sure that for me a few spins on the Tilt-a-Whirl feels roughly equivalent to the way astronauts feel after training in crazy altitude chambers. (I’m sorry NASA, before you ask, I’ve made a commitment to raising my children right now.) And I’ve outgrown the allure of wet clothes stuck to my body, hugging my curves and making it difficult for passersby to determine whether or not I wet my pants.
But now that I have children, I go to amusement parks more than ever. This weekend was our first park adventure of the summer. Between snapping photos of my kids enjoying the rides
I satisfied my people-watching craving.
The Drill Sergeant
This parent knows what her children are thinking and shuts that down before things get out of hand. And speaking of hands, “Are you holding your brother’s hand?! We went over this at the car!” There is no room for tomfoolery, and her children know it. They stand single file. Their breathing is synchronized. “Simon, don’t even think about it.”
This parent has wipes and hand sanitizer in every pocket of her person, and she’s pushing a stroller for the Costco box of wipes she can’t carry. Her wipe-downs are swift and thorough and immediately follow any contact her child makes with any surface of any kind. She only has one child.
This family is wearing park paraphernalia from head to toe. And rumor has it, dad is a member of a pretty wild coaster club. This rumor was started by dad. They arrive when the park opens and leave only after rating the coasters in their park journals.
These are the people who buy profane Boardwalk t-shirts and then wear them. They live life out loud while they offer a big F U to the universe for all their torment. New readers will walk away with some real pearls of wisdom they sounded out while standing in line behind offenders. These experiences make amusement parks what they really are: educational field trips.
The Young Lovers
They’re walking through the park with their hands in each other’s back pockets. They try to make it to the shadows before they’re on each other like algae eaters. Oh, screw it, right here in broad daylight at the entrance of the kiddie park is just as good a spot as any.
The Better Mom
She has a life-sized Olaf balloon tied to her stroller, and she doesn’t seem to care that it repeatedly hits her in the face as she walks. Each of her kids has a sno cone mustache and a toy they won in their sticky mitts. Everyone is smiling. Everyone. Your kids wish she was their mom. You kind of wish it, too.
They live by the philosophy: “Give me a bench in the shade and get out of here.” They doze, zone out, and try not to remember that these are minutes of their lives. “Is the fun over, yet?”
The Photo Opportunists
This mom takes her Instagram and FB accounts very seriously. Her children will ride until she gets the perfect “candid”. They’re exhausted and weary, but her “friends” will never see that. NEVER! Now smile, dammit!
Best In Show
She embodies all things amusement park. She wins the yearbook superlative: “Most Amusement Park.”* I don’t know. She might look something like this:
I like to think of myself as a modern-day Franz Boaz or Margaret Mead. This is important social anthropological work I’m doing. You’re welcome.
* Apparently my husband doesn’t value “Most Amusement Park” or the honor it might bring the family. So, no, Sylvie did not wear the above outfit or lack thereof for our entire amusement park adventure. My little diva hates nothing more than a wet outfit. After an unfortunate incident with a sno cone and maybe some urine, I removed her jumper on our way to the car where I changed her. Stand down, haters.