What NOT to think about when spending the day at Cliff’s (Albuquerque’s local amusement park) with your family:
- Do you think they use clean water or recycle used water at the splash park aka Watermania? How many kids have peed going down the slide?
- Do you think they ever clean or sanitize the rides or slides? Wow, look at all the hundreds of hot, sweaty people with a wide variety of personal hygiene habits getting off and on the rides.
- Why can’t they get the ride Mike and the boys rode repeatedly last year open today? For some reason, try as they might for hours, they cannot get it to work the proper way. Just meditate on that for a minute.
- Why does the teenaged ride operator look very puzzled while trying to start the ride in which we are sitting? Should I feel worried that she has come over and unsuccessfully leaned into the main contraption that connects Connor and me to a drop of death? When her final lean of many somehow gets the ride in motion, should I be happy we are finally off or sad that we are now closer to death? Will my fake smile and forced, “WOOO!”‘s be convincing enough to keep my 6 year old from noticing his mother is scared out of her mind?
- Since Ethan got motion sickness on his very first ride and subsequently refused to ride most others out of grave fear of queasiness, does this mean he will live his entire life missing out on fun because he is paralyzed by the fearful negativity of one quick moment? Will he be a teenager still hanging on tightly and teased by a toddler whose hands are raised up because his cautious spirit never finds release? Where does he get this paranoia from, really? ;)
- Are the guaranteed prizes even worth the extra price we paid to play the games? By playing a game without a guaranteed prize, are we like those who spend the night in the casinos deceived by the hopes of winning that one in a zillion jackpot? Are the chances better at the slot machines than this elusive ring toss? Even the game operator looked genuinely surprised when one extremely lucky person actually ringed a bottle and perpetuated the draw of the impossible for all passersby.
- How safe are these rickety rides anyway? Is this considered high-risk behavior? Fortunately this day was BEFORE a roller coaster jumped the track in California. Thanks to CNN’s report on that incident, I now know that from 1990 to 2010 there were 92,000 children injured on amusement park rides. Lovely.
- Did this slow train just go around the entire park in a short 15 minutes? Is that really the entire park? Did we just pay $25 for a park smaller than the super Wal-Mart? No, thankfully, we did not. There are always discount coupons out there, and we used one to get 50% off. But I do think the local Lowe’s is slightly bigger. Maybe the kids can just ride a forklift there for free next time.
Rather than dwell on the 4,000 ride-related injuries a year and risk fulfilling the worries I have about my older son missing out on fun due to living in fear, I will most likely go back with another discounted ticket next year. Maybe Ethan’s queasiness fears will have subsided by then. Maybe the image of blackened water when I washed my hands and feet after we got home will have faded away. Maybe I will recall that the chances of ride-related serious injury are really 1 in 24 million. In other words, I have more chances of winning an oversized unicorn at the ring toss than falling to my death at the hands of a teenager-operated ride. Plus, in the end, we enjoyed quality family time having fun together with all the other hot, sweaty germ-infested people there. I (think I) was glad that I decided to spend the day with my Beckett crew instead of shopping or going to the spa or reading in my cozy (safe) chair. Everyone should engage in something that makes them slightly queasy, shouting “Woooo!” and taking a one in a million chance. Everyone should live a little, especially with the people they love the most. I can guarantee I will again but probably not for another 11 months from now. :)