Last week, we were experiencing a horrible heatwave with temps feeling like 110 degrees! Still wanting to soak up some summer fun with my little one, I started looking for indoor activities we could do. I settled on an indoor amusement park complete with rides, boardwalk games, arcade and restaurants. I was sure my daughter would have a blast, but was unsure of what package to get as I reviewed the ride list. I went to the list of rides where she met the height requirement and could only pick out 2 that would fall under the “definite list”. I know my kid. She is extremely tentative around rides. We are talking about a kid who didn’t even want to go on Dumbo at Disney World!
Despite this, I decided to get the unlimited ride package.
When we arrived, I knew we were in for a fun day! The place was nicely themed and clean. There was a lot of people there, but it never felt overcrowded. My 4 year old wanted to hit the games first, but I convinced her to get some rides in before the lines got longer. She headed for her go-to…..the carousel. As we went round and round, I would point out the other rides within our vicinity. There was not one other ride she wanted to go on. Each suggestion was met with a curt “no”.
So we walked around, played some games and had a bite to eat. As we were walking by a giant swing, she asked me to go on it with her. I smiled and off we went. My daughter grabbed my arm as the ride attendant buckled us up. My daughter told me that she was nervous to let go of me because she might soar into the air. I patted her hand and said it was ok, but she could hold on if she wanted to. She clung to my arm as the ride began to pick up speed and rise higher off the ground. We were both laughing and screaming and freely kicking our feet in the air. As we reached the maximum height, she loosened her grip until only her fingers grazed my wrist. 3 more big swings of the ride and she threw her hands out in front of her and screamed in delight. I glanced at her excited face from the corner of my eye. Then looked down at my arm. With no little hand touching it.
We got off the ride and she looked up at me and said, “Mommy, can I go on again? By myself this time?”. I smiled and nodded.
As I watched from the sidelines, I was so excited that she got the courage and overcame her fears. But as she enjoyed her new sense of adventure, I couldn’t help but feel it was all too symbolic of our life to come. Her letting go of me and finding her own strength, her own sense of self, her freedom. And me, watching anxiously from the sidelines.
We spent the rest of the afternoon riding more rides together, some she rode alone. We played games and ate cotton candy. We made memories. She fell asleep on the car ride home. I looked at my baby sleeping in the rear view mirror. And couldn’t comprehend where the summer had gone. Where the past 4 years had gone. And how I am now the one who is scared to let go.
But I know that letting her go is how she will soar.