From Chicken Soup for the Mother of Preschooler's Soul

Oh,What a Ride!

Lord, grant that I may always desire more than I can accomplish.


They were fighting words.

“Do you really think you can handle it?” Nancy asked when we suggested taking two of her sons to a kiddie theme park in Pennsylvania.

“Handle it?” I challenged back. “Didn’t we manage to raise three of our own? Are we so old and feeble that we can’t be trusted?”

Slightly contrite, Nancy agreed, and we began the actual logistics of this small adventure. Naturally, the day we chose for our Sesame Place outing turned out to be one of those unbearably steamy, early summer days when the sun peeks in and out and the air is dense and heavy. Not a day for perfect comfort with two small lads whose tolerance for discomfort is finite.

We loaded the car with lunch, bottled water, bathing trunks, towels, a stroller for two-year-old Danny, Jonah’s favorite toys and several of his most absorbing books, along with some adult gear. Not among our stellar experiences.

“He’s bothering me!” Jonah complained while Danny tapped his feet against his car seat for the entire trip, one prolonged by a traffic jam of epic proportions.

“Hungry!” Danny announced as we arrived at the park, along with a cast of thousands. I’d forgotten that toddlers eat constantly, messily and with no regard for food groups. In the blazing sun, with Jonah frantic to get to the main gates, Danny’s insistence on lingering over each grape was . . . well, trying at best.

Let me cut to the chase: By the end of the first hour with Jonah and Daniel, who seemed determined to divide and conquer their exhausted grandparents, we were ready to throw in the towel—but it was soaking wet because Danny had thrown it into the wading pool.

By the end of the second hour, with aching feet, burning bodies, the crisis of sunscreen in Jonah’s eyes and Danny’s terror of the roaming Sesame Street characters, I thought about Nancy’s prophetic question. My husband and I were among the oldest people at the theme park, and it showed. While young parents glided through the water and land attractions, we were like cartoon characters run amok. Not a pretty picture.

By the end of our third hour, we did the unspeakable: We lied. We told our grandsons the park was closing for the day.

Hot and exhausted, Danny and Jonah slept all the way home. It was sheer bliss. When we delivered them, Nancy studied her disheveled parents. “So, how was it?”

“Great!” we said. “Really terrific!”

And we beat a hasty retreat before we were caught in our bald-faced lie.

Sally Friedman

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