Saturday, April 14, 2007

Riding the parent rollercoaster

Maybe I haven't mentioned that we're in the middle of spring vacation here. This fact did not escape Tess's notice who way back last fall committed to memory one important fact - Kid parc reopens at the beginning of Spring vacation. That was about six months ago; nevertheless, when we mentioned very casually a couple of weeks ago what time of year it was, Tess immediately grasped the significance and said, "Kid parc is open!"
So we's a great place actually, both of our visits have taken up the better part of a day and have thoroughly delighted the kids without taxing our systems or our pocketbooks overmuch. Just like last time, the kids sampled as many rides as possible and they got to see Kiki the clown do his schtick again. It's interesting the difference half a year makes. The kids rode the roller coaster alone this time, and during Kiki's show when it came time for kids to be brought up onstage to take part in his concluding number, Tess shot her hand straight up into the air and patiently waited for Kiki to see her. Six months earlier, at this same moment I had asked her if she wanted to go up there and she had shrunk back in fear of the unkown. This time unfortunately we were sitting to one side and in the second row and he never made eye contact with her despite the fact that she held her hand aloft for the duration of the entire number. Tess was crestfallen when it became obvious she wouldn't get to up there. Nevertheless I was impressed by her eagerness to get involved, she's a gamer.

Later on, we had a scare with Tess when we lost her for a few minutes.
Looking back, neither Beth nor I can explain how it happened. We had taken both kids to an inflatable fun house that was enclosed by mesh walls. It had a single entrance. We stationed ourselves not more than fifteen or twenty feet from the entrance and watched. We saw both Tess and Colm appear and disappear within the interieur of the structure over and over again. Finally, after twenty minutes or so we decided to call them out and get ready to leave the park. I collected Colm right off the bat but when I looked for Tess I couldn't see her. I signalled to Beth to look around the back through the mesh walls but she came back empty handed.
We asked Colm where she was. He pointed inside. We let him go in to find her, but she wasn't there.
I was in complete denial that she could be missing since in my own mind there was no way she could have gotten past us unseen. But she had.
Beth said we'd better report it. I nodded, grabbed my cell phone and started into an urgent walk, canvassing of the immediate area, revisiting rides we had already been to.
The kind of worry that surfaces when you allow yourself to begin thinking the unthinkable is simply sickening. As I headed for the complex where I thought the office would be I immediately began thinking about the parking lot, what if a car was leaving, what if... I didn't really give in to that thought but neither could I erase it from my consciousness. Then I realized that I couldn't remember what Tess was wearing exactly. I wanted to give someone an accurate description so I called Beth who though out of sight was no more than fifty meters away. She picked up right away.
"Do you see her?" she said.
"I see her."
"Where?" I rounded a building and came into the outside dining area. Then I saw Tess walking. Amazingly that line of sight also led my eyes to Beth in background. "I see her."
"Why did you call me?"
"I couldn't remember what she was wearing."
"A pink shirt, black pants."
I hung up and made a silent vow to never ever again forget what my daughter was wearing.
I angled into Tess's line of sight. She saw me and very matter of factly veered in my direction. When I asked where she had gone, she said that she had wanted to ride fish ride. It was all very simple. I didn't get excited with her but I did calmly let her know that I wanted her to come to us when she was ready for a new ride and not to go by herself. She said okay.
All of this happened in the space of five minutes and within a radius of fifty meters, but the way time and space yawned open at us for those few long moments left us both a bit unhinged. Talk about rollercoasters.


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