So it’s staycation time and this year we decided to get the local theme park out of the way. The kids were so excited about going and such is the way with these things, the more the kids are looking forward to something, the more the parents are likely to be dreading it.
Still our pleasure, so we kept telling ourselves, comes from seeing how much the little ones are enjoying themselves.
Don’t get me wrong, our local theme park is fantastic. I think I’ve sung its praises on this blog before. Whilst at Legoland you queue for half an hour just to get on a merry-go-round (never occurred to anyone there to put up a second merry-go-round), here at Flambards, Helston, you can pretty much walk on to most rides and there’s only a short queue to the more popular ones.
No, my bugbear is the thought of going on any of these more, um, popular ones. You know, the ones that go a bit fast and spin you about. Specifically, the log flume.
It’s not a particularly high log flume. Similar rides at Alton Towers and Thorpe Park would laugh in its face at its height certainly. What gets me is how steep it is. It’s as close to a 90 degree drop as health and safety deem legal, I reckon. Or at least feels that way.
Last time I went on it, as the kids have been reminding me ever since, I ‘screamed like a girl’. And, of course, I got this all the way to the theme park, as we were queuing up for tickets and as we stood inside the entrance wondering where to go first.
‘Are you going to scream like a girl on the log flume, Daddy?’ giggled the daughter, then the boy. Then they said it both together.
‘No,’ I said firmly, trying not to sound too irritated. Actually I was somewhat confident in my answer. I had already decided that I wasn’t going on the log flume. Or on any ride that filled me with even the faintest bit of dread about being spun about or dropped from a great height. At 37, I don’t have to worry about peer pressure or trying to impress any women (the wife knows I’m a bit of a wimp when it comes to these things). I can happily refuse to go on these things if I wish.
So that’s what I did. I avoided the rocking boat, sloped out of the rollercoaster quite expertly if I say so myself by pretending I was following everyone else, then ducking out of the queue at the eleventh hour. And as for the log flume, well, that was easy. The wife didn’t want to get her expensive camera lost or soaked, did she?
Alas, such cunning isn’t without side effect. The slightly less wimpy side of me kept making me feel guilty and like I was missing out on the whole theme park experience by not being a bit more of a daredevil, like in that Everybody’s Free (To Wear Sunscreen) song: ‘do something every day that scares you…’ And my weaker side responded by smugly saying ‘yeah, but I’m not risking any aggravation to my heart or my back or neck muscles, am I? Haven’t you read those signs?’
Except I wasn’t as prepared for the power of the little people. After going on the log flume with their far braver mummy, the boy in particular was keen to go on again – ‘with you, Daddy…’
I couldn’t use the holding the camera excuse because the wife had already grabbed it back. Peer pressure didn’t come into it. In fact a group of macho blokes on a stag do calling me a wussy boy would be far easier to resist than the pleading look that my son was currently giving me. What was that we kept telling ourselves about this whole outing? Oh yes, the pleasure for us is in seeing the kids enjoy themselves…
‘Oh, ok…’ I sighed.
I could see how much it meant to my son. Going on the ride with his dad, just us boys. As we took our seats in the log and I wrapped my arms around him, I remember thinking how these moments won’t be there to seize forever. And clearly it will mean as much to him for a long time to come. We set off towards the upwards ramp and I gave him a proud fatherly ruffle of his mop of blond hair. Then I braced myself.
‘Daddy,’ he smirked, looking up at me, as we whirred up and up. ‘Are you going to scream like a girl again?’
Oh the hysterics. The little so-and-so. Five years old and already out to humiliate me.
Right, well, I was not, under any circumstances, going to scream like a girl. By now our log had almost reached the top of the ramp.
Oh heck, oh no. But I wasn’t going to scream. Over the edge we went. I clung to the sides and would like to imagine myself at this point in slow motion laughing at the whole experience, smiling for that hidden camera that hopes to relieve you of a fiver a short while later, wondering what on earth all the fuss had been about, but no.
‘HERE WE GOOOOOOOOO!!’ I yelled at the top of my voice as we plunged to our certain deaths.
And – splash – it was over. Except it wasn’t. I’d shouted so loudly that half the theme park must have looked up from the Haribo pop-ups and bags of chips. An eerie silence had almost descended upon the log flume. Well, apart from the sound of my son’s laughter.
He was in stitches. And, of course, my wife had not just taken a picture, she’d filmed it and was already playing it back to the daughter, who was also splitting her sides. Later the wife even enhanced the volume of my voice, not that she really needed to. I daresay it will be up on YouTube imminently.
Two days on and I am still getting regular cheeky cries from the kids of ‘here we goooooo.’ This one will run and run. I’m sure a holidaymaker whispered the same thing as I walked past them in Sainsbury’s just now.
The moral of this story is that you really have to accept that when you go to these theme parks with the kids, short of being pregnant, there is no way of getting out of these daredevil rides. You having a go is part of it for the little ones and if they see someone they had previously thought of as fearless and strong suddenly cacking their pants, well, that’s a bonus.
So take my advice: get it over with, hold on tight and if you have to, don’t hold back, just scream like a girl.