They really do go hand in hand.
Why am I writing about roller coasters on a blog about being a dad? Because there is a direct link to roller coasters and my own father, and because our little guy rode two roller coasters last week with us.
First, how overjoyed I was to ride with our little man his first real full-sized roller coaster. We have annual passes to an amusement park here in Southern California called Knotts Berry Farm. It is a great park and a much more affordable option than the big “D” down the road in Anaheim. He *JUST* made the 48 inch requirement to ride (they measured him for the 2nd coaster) so we know anything with 48 or under is good to go. The wait was long for Ghost Rider but he was a total champ and waited it out. When we got closer, I think there were a couple of moments where he got a little nervous, but he really wanted to ride it, partially to show his older cousin he was not afraid (there is a history with this ride, where a couple of years ago the same cousin decided it was a little too intense (!!*as we were getting into the car*!!)). Ghost Rider is a classic, wooden rollercoaster that is REALLY fast and has some very intense drops (lets just say it was pretty intense for newdad as well!).
He was a ROCK STAR!! Afterwards he said he liked it but didn’t want to do it again. But the story is he did it! It was a good time for the entire family and in the end worth the wait. I was so proud of him for doing it. We then went to another area of the park and rode another coaster with a shorter line, that was much less intense and he liked that one quite a bit better.
Now how does a wooden roller coaster in Southern California make me think of my dad? If we go back in time, I used to be scared to death of roller coasters. I honestly don’t know why but I did not want to ride them at all. Now I would eventually get over my fear of coasters and ride a number of them throughout the years, but going back to my childhood in Ohio, lets say I was very apprehensive.
Now Ohio is lucky enough to not have just one, but TWO great amusement parks in the state. We would go to the one in Cincinnati, Kings Island. For many years, it was the home of the biggest wooden coaster in the United States (maybe even the world), The Beast!
We took family trips to the park and all I wanted to do was play in the arcade. I know now that my dad was pretty disappointed in that and really wanted a son that was fearless and would ride ANYTHING with him. I remember one trip, I was trying to hit him up for more money to go back to the arcade and he offered me $50.00 if I would ride The Beast with him ONE TIME. I politely declined (I think there might have been some crying involved(on my part)). They say hindsight is ALWAYS 20/20, but looking back, I now would have done anything to have changed that young boys’ mind and had him share that experience with his dad, who only wanted his oldest to ride a roller coaster with him.
A few years pass, and I am now enjoying the heck out of every coaster in the park. We even had annual passes a couple of years and would drive down at minimum of once a week every week we could. And we would ride from the moment we got there to the moment we left. But when I think back on it, I honestly can’t remember ever riding The Beast with my dad. If I did, I just don’t remember it, funny, I remember NOT riding it, but can’t remember if we ever got that opportunity.
I will not miss that opportunity with my son. No matter how intimidating the ride may look, if he wants to go, I will be game as long as I am able.
Do you have a childhood (or adulthood) memory of overcoming a fear like roller coasters? Riding a bike? Driving Fast? Skateboarding? Love to hear about it, comment below.