Friday, June 27, 2008

Matthew’s First Roller Coaster

Most every night before Matthew goes to bed, he likes to watch videos on YouTube of various roller coasters. First it was any random roller coaster from around the world, one from Japan, some from here in the states (places we’ve never been) and a few in Europe. He started to name them by their color or the manner in which they were themed (“the red roller coaster” or the “the animal one”). He enjoyed it especially when I would make my office chair mimic the actions of the roller coaster; if the coaster banked to the left, I’d lean the chair over to the left, or if it climbed a hill, I’d recline the chair way back. Giggles of delight were had by all.

Right when he tipped the yard stick at 34 inches, we tried to take him on the little 32-second roller coaster at Disneyland’s Toon Town, the one made for older toddlers. For the longest time, he wanted no part of it, until one day he acquiesced to join us. He made it all the way through the line without so much as a negative word; he even thought it was funny when the coaster would zoom over his head while we were waiting, all the while Natalie offered him words of encouragement on how fun the ride is.

When we got to the front of the line, and as Kara was stepping into the ride, he began to profess how he might have just been kidding about wanting to go on it, assuming that we wouldn’t take him seriously about making him go on the ride. So Kara stepped through and waited for Natalie and I to go on it. I guess we should have forced him to ride it, because he would have probably enjoyed it, but there’s that little chance it would have scarred him for life, turning him into a raving lunatic sometime later in adulthood.

We decided to wait until he was ready… and that day came two days ago.

Now don’t get me started on the extreme suckatude that Lego Land is or how disappointed I am about paying $60 each to get into a filthy, over-crowded, inefficient and ill-planned “amusement” park where there is absolutely nothing to offer anyone over the age of six but the bill for it all. I had been wanting to go there since it opened, as it is on the list of motivations for even having children (right below tax write-off), so once I had the chance to visit the Mecca of the building-blocks toy I have loved since I was old enough to know what to do with my opposable thumbs, I had perhaps built it up to be the be all and end all of amusement park experiences. Let’s just say that we won’t be going back and we can leave it at that.

Anyways, poor Matthew, who has been getting the short end of the stick around ever turn lately, was at that magic age and height combination to not be able to go on any of the cooler rides. He’s an eighth-inch shy of 36-inches tall now, which qualifies him for most anything there (save two) but he falls under their four-year-old rule which disqualifies him for most of the rides he pointed to and with hope in his voice said, “Can I go on that?”

The answer was usually no… and then watch as your sister enjoys it. Well, towards the end of the day, we realized that, although he was having a good time, he wasn’t getting to do anything that he really wanted to do, especially after witnessing the final straw of watching his sister go on The Dragon, a knight-themed roller coaster that Natalie exclaimed (in front of him, of course), that it was her favorite thing at the park. At that point, and all the times he tried to sneak away from Kara to get in line, he was probably feeling a little slighted, so Kara scoured the park map to find him something he could go on… and it was quite a treat for him, as it was “The Coastersaurus,” a pretty quick roller coaster for little tykes.

Let’s just say he loved it. As we were waiting in line, he marveled at the roller coaster as it shot overhead, and he was giddy with excitement as we queued up for our turn, all the while excited that finally, finally, he was going to get to go on something he wanted to go on.

As far as the ride is concerned, it was only about 30-seconds long, but you get to go through it twice, and it rivals the Toon Town roller coaster in speed, turns and excitement. Given its length, I took pictures of him throughout the ride, totalling six, from the time we sat in the cars waiting to depart until the time he became confident enough to throw his arms up in the air like a true roller coaster aficionado.

Interspersed here are the six images, spanning the ranges of emotions from excitement, elation, and exhilaration to trepidation, fear and bravado. The first picture at the top of this page speaks volumes as it was taken on the first big drop after leaving the station, and by the time we had made it around another lap, he was thrilled to be on the ride, throwing caution to the wind and his hands in the air.

It was, after all, Matthew’s first roller coaster… and he rode it in high style.

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