Becoming Old, But Avoiding Dull

Today, I went to the fair with my teenage children, who refused to go on any rides other than the big ones. When asked if I would go on the upside-down, twisty, turvy rides with them, my automatic response was NO WAY. I went on those rides when I was their age, younger even. In my adult years, I’ve had problems with vertigo, sometimes from anxiety, sometimes from sickness, and sometimes for no reason. So I suppose this is why I avoid certain things as I’ve gotten older.

I know what it feels like to be upside down, dizzy and vomiting. I know what it feels like when your day is ruined from being upside down, dizzy and vomiting from drug use and carnival rides. I know what those rides like Hurricane and Zipper do to me. I’ve been on them more times than my kids could even fathom! I grew up ten minutes from West Edmonton Mall, where they have Galaxy Land. These carnival rides live eternally (my favourite was Drop of Doom, sitting in the car, you go to the top, which pops out the top of the building, and you have just enough time to read the small sign that says something like, you’re about to drop 120 stories in 3 seconds.)

Disclaimer: I just googled the ride to get the exact height vs. drop ratio stats, and it appears my once-fav ride has now been retired.

So I say no thank you to my teenage children, and we go on the Merry Go Round and Bumper Cars for some good clean fun.

Then we go to the chuck wagon races in the grandstands. My son decides to stay back in the fair with some other friends he came across.

In the grandstands, we run into a few friends. One of the girl’s little boy is bugging her to go for a walk after our husbands go off to wander. She’s balancing a baby in her arms and struggling to say, “no, you’re not old enough, no, you can’t go by yourself, no, not right now.”

This kid is in grade 4. The most demanding age as they think they are old, and probably they are, but us parents are still scared to let that thin thread go. I remember the first time my son went to the corner store alone. He was probably about grade 4, and I stood in the middle of the street watching him. And did my heart ever sink when he disappeared around the corner for the whole two minutes that he was gone before I could see him again? But it does pass; they need to learn.

But I digress.

Back to this point, sitting in the grandstands, the chuck wagons are on their break. My husband is off on a walk with his friend. My son is still on the fairground, and my teenage daughter sitting beside me grumps and wants to go home. So I offer to take my friend’s kid for a walk. I mean, it sounds better than sitting with an angry teenager.

I turn around and offer to take him for a walk, “I want a drink and cotton candy anyway,” I shrug. Thinking, this ain’t nothing. I have four children that survived to 1- adulthood and 3- teenage years, plus I have a grandbaby. I’m a pro!

So he and I walk back to the fairgrounds, and this kid is funny! We’re talking about school, rides, candy, and the weather, and he’s killing me; I’m laughing at how witty this kid is! When did kids so young suddenly become so wise? In fourth grade, I wasn’t that sharp. Plus, I hadn’t hung out with a fourth grader since five years ago when my youngest was that age, and I find my own kids never try so hard to be funny and witty. They are angry and demanding, keeping all their best character traits for their friends. Or I suppose, in this situation, friends of your parents.

As soon as we step onto the fairgrounds, he shows me his wristband, asking if I have one. I said no, we bought tickets. He says, oh, do you have any left? Can we go on a ride?

I start to answer then notice just ahead is my son, standing in his group of friends. I ask if my son has tickets left and he says yeah, I ended up buying a wrist band.

He gave me 4 tickets.

Now, this kid and I are on a mission to choose a ride. And guess what? He wants to go on one of the two biggest rides. I refused the same ones that my kids were trying to get me on.

Speed (224 feet in the air and flips you head over feet with four people on each side. Gross)

Zipper (strong vertical G force, numerous spins and a noted sense of unpredictability *from google search*)

Thankfully, Speed is closed for the night. *insert arm pump emoji*

So kid asks if we can go on the zipper. I laugh, “no.” He says, ” Well, at least come watch me while I go on.

Yup, I took the bait.

I’m saved because the ride costs 6 tickets, and I only have 4.

He stands in line, committed to going on himself. He says I have to hold his hat but continues to ask me if I’ll go with him. I shrug and say I can’t; I don’t have enough tickets.

A lady ahead of us turns and asks if I want her tickets, she’d bought a wristband.


But I say sure, and oh look kid, now I can come on the ride with you.

He’s happy, I’m committed, whatever. Life goes on. I won’t die.

And on the ride, we laughed! We laughed and got wiped around and yelled at each other, saying, ‘what have we done?’ and we had a blast.

So what prevented me in the first place from getting on the ride? My own fear. My fear of being dizzy and sick or tossed around in a little wire basket is because my brain has learnt so many things that it protects itself from danger, but all I did was prevent myself from having fun.

And this kid pushed me to have fun. Taking the plunge or tip in a zipper was so worth it.

So we have to learn from what we’ve done in the past, what went wrong, and what hurt and marred us as beings. But we have to sometimes throw caution to the wind and go with that initial instinct of, at one time, I enjoyed this. Because otherwise, we get old and scared, preventing the best anti-aging medicine of all laughter.

Now that I’ve reached my advice part of the story, I can finish the story.

About 1/3 of the ride, the kid starts saying he thinks he’ll vomit. I’m like, oh no, I’m going to get covered with vomit. He’s telling me to make the ride stop. I say I can’t, kid! But every time the ride comes down and past the carnie, I yell, “STOP.” He has music playing and can’t hear me. So the ride continues.

I’m holding the kid’s arm, talking to him, telling him he’s got this, he won’t vomit, just breathe, kid, the ride is almost over, you’re not going to puke.

Finally the ride stops.

We’re swinging at the top of the ride. Good job, you made it and didn’t even puke, I say to him. He does a fake gag and laughs, says he was fine and wasn’t going to puke. The ride shifts, and he panics. I say it’s okay, it’s over; they’re unloading the ride now.

He says, “good thing I didn’t puke, my mom would kill me.”

I said, “you’ve been on this ride before though haven’t you?”

He says NO!

Face palm.

I walked back to another moment of anything but dull,

No apologies,

Norma Rrae

Click on your preferred bookish method below to order my novel, Justyce Scales of the Otherly and Obscura (the story follows Luci in an alternate universe where she’s trying to rescue her mom and escape the darkness of Obscura. It’s kind of like Alice in Wonderland mashed with Strangers Things.)

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