So, this is the Mega Drop or the Drop Zone or whatever they called it this year – it’s a free fall type ride at the Coastal Carolina Fair. The tower is over 100 feet tall and the drop part is 95 feet.
This year, Jonah was finally tall enough to ride the grown-up rides and he wanted to try a scary one. Being the absolutely coolest mom ever, I told him I’d ride this one with him. This video isn’t the night we were there, but it’s the same experience for anyone.
And this is how the experience goes.
Jonah: This is so cool, I can’t wait to ride this. I bet it’s awesome.
Me: I used to love scary rides like this when I was your age, bud. Aren’t I the coolest mom ever for riding this with you?
Jonah: Oh YEAH! (the excitement is all over his sweet face)
And then we wait in line. And I watch and I slowly start praying, “Please, God, keep us safe.” And I start to think about how every 2 weeks or so, these rides are put together and taken apart and trucked somewhere, and I see a box of tools sitting outside the ride. I start questioning my parenting skills, and my anxiety starts to climb. I think I’m going to pass out… The screams of the riders before us jolt my thoughts back to the moment.
And then, it’s time to board the ride. And by ride, I mean it’s a metal tower with chairs around the outside of it. And you have a harness that goes over your shoulders and you buckle it in. But basically, you are in the open, legs dangling, daring the fair gods to let you live.
I help Jonah into his seat, secretly hoping he’ll say, “I changed my mind, mom.” But alas, he doesn’t. I buckle him in and pull the belt about 10 times to make sure it’s really buckled.
I sit down and buckle myself in. I’m weeks away from 40 years old. What the %*%#@ am I thinking?!?!
And then, I look over at my boy. With my best mom voice, I command him to hold on the entire ride. He is not to let go under any circumstances. He nods and I say, “Do you understand?”
He responds with a bit of trepidation in his voice, “Yes, ma’am.” Was he scared of me or scared of the ride?
I look into the crowd and my husband is standing there watching me. Darn our egalitarian marriage views. Why couldn’t he just have commanded me to not ride this infernal thing?! He’s smirking, and I can tell he thinks his wife and son are both crazy. And I mouth to him something along the lines of “What the *#&%(#?”
Eric laughs. Sure, he can laugh. He’s not about to die.
And then I notice as I look back to Jonah – he looks so small in that seat. And it hits me just as we start the ascent. The agonizingly slow climb… my baby. My baby boy. This child I’ve protected his entire life. This boy I breastfed and diapered and rocked to sleep and cuddled and sang lullabies to… This rambunctious little person…. I PUT MY LITTLE BABY ON THIS RIDE!?!
Immediately I again question every parenting decision I’ve ever made, but especially the poor judgment of the last 5 minutes. My anxiety on a scale of 1-10 is now at a 15. I keep watching Jonah and he is so small. I’m now no longer the coolest mom ever. I’m now a public menace. Someone is surely going to call protective services on me for allowing this reckless act of riding an amusement park ride. Who decides how tall is tall enough? Shouldn’t it be weighted? Jonah’s skinny! Shouldn’t it be grade level? Shouldn’t it be age? He’s 7 for crying out loud? My brain is completely in panic mode.
The crowd gets smaller… and 95 feet takes a really long time to climb, as it seems an eternity. And all I can think of is I’m going to die. And my son is going to die. And I allowed this. And I’m not fit to parent. What was I thinking? And I pray again. It’s amazing how many panicked thoughts you can have in the space of a 20 second climb. It’s amazing how earnest your prayers can be when you are suspended 9 stories above the ground, waiting to plummet toward earth.
And then we stop. We’ve reached the top. Will they hold us and make us wait or will they…. OH CRAP!?! My butt is no longer on the chair. I’m weightless and I’m on my way to death’s door. The grim reaper is surely waiting at the bottom. Oh, crap, I might pee my pants. Oh, I hope Jonah is okay. Please don’t let him die, please, God, please…
And we stop and the butt meets the chair again. And it’s over. The drop portion of the ride – from the top to the bottom – takes all of 2 whole seconds.
I’m alive. I’m a shaking bundle of nerves, but I’m alive. And so is Jonah. Thank you, Jesus. Seriously, I am not taking the Lord’s name in vain right there. I most definitely was thanking Jesus. I’m STILL thanking Jesus.
I think if there were nurses at the bottom taking blood pressure and heart rate and the like, they would have called an ambulance for me. All I could think was that I needed to sit and collect myself and let my heart rate return to normal.
I unbuckle myself and then Jonah. I ask him, “So, bud, did you like the ride?” I’m secretly hoping he’ll have hated it so I never have to ride an infernal scream machine ever again. Please, God, let him hate it. If he says he wants to ride again, I’m losing all cool points, because there is no way on earth I’m doing that again.
He looks at me rather calmly, “I didn’t really like that so much, Mom.”
Relief… sweet relief. Praise be!
We step off the platform and Eric is there. He says that Jonah had a look of terror on his face the entire drop down. He then asks me how I’m feeling…
My birthday approaches. In less than 3 weeks, I turn 40. I was once a kid who every year went to the fair and lived to ride the biggest, baddest, scariest rides. And somewhere, in the past few years of hanging out in kiddie land, riding the tame rides with my children, that young crazy girl disappeared. No longer do I live to ride the crazy rides… now I just want to live. Age is kinda sobering.
I’m sure in a few years, Jonah will muster up the courage to try the big scream machines again. But he’ll do it with his friends or his sisters or yes, one day, with a girlfriend. But when he thinks back to his first scary ride, he’ll always remember for a few short minutes, he had the coolest mom ever.