With the summer winding up, we decided to go to finally use the free Six Flags ticket my youngest daughter (Mia) received for doing enough reading during the school year. If you haven’t heard of Six Flags, it is a typical amusement park with rides, food, games, and crowds of people.
IIt was a beautiful Saturday, which lead to lots and lots of people choosing to head to Six Flags as an end of the summer day of standing line entertainment. My wife made me promise not to complain too much, so I was trying to stay upbeat and cheerful as I was taken from one line to another.
For the third ride of the day, my oldest (Olivia) wanted to ride the Boomerang. Mia, however, took one look and wanted nothing to do with that much spinning and instead took my wife over to the Tidal Wave for a calmer, if not wetter ride.
Olivia and I entered the line to the Boomerang and spent the next 45 minutes shuffling the 100 yards through a serpentine line of thousands of people crammed into a 30 foot by 45 foot space. I spend a lot of my time in these lines trying not to think about of the millions of people, from all walks of life, that have touched the handrail that I am forced to rub up against and always rest on myself. Still, I had to stay upbeat.
At one point, the line stopped. I later learned it was because they had to stop and clean up the ride after someone had vomited. Glad I heard that after the fact. But the stop had brought on a higher level of boredom from standing in one spot with no air movement and nothing to do. Being the good dad I am, I pull out my phone. I have tried to talk to my daugher in these instances, but being a week away from her 13th birthday, talking to her dad falls well below standing and doing nothing on the scale of what to do for fun.
But my phone is a wealth of entertainment that can take my mind away from the hell of standing on a concrete slab, in a crowd with no air circulating. Crap, no signal. Still, I pretend to be a photographer all the time. I can find an interesting photo or two.
Olivia is no stranger to having her photo taken. She is a beautiful girl and has grown up in the digital world and generally enjoys having me capture how beautiful she is. But to do so in a line for a roller coaster with people watching?!? What could be more horrifying? Every time I pull my camera up to compose a photo, she moves or blocks the camera and tells me to cut it out.
I just found my entertainment.
Now it is a test to see how fast the camera on my phone can grab a photo before Olivia blocks it, or moves. Yes, I know, teasing your own child is not going to win me father of the year, but I can tell, she is enjoying the game a little. She may be telling me to stop,that I am embarrassing her, but the corners of her mouth are smiling just enough that I see there is a small percentage of fun for her. After every photo is snapped, Olivia puts on her stern voice and tells me to delete it.
She tells me I am embarrassing.
Of course I assure her. There is no way these blurry photos will be kept, much less posted on the internet. This is when I notice a few kids on the other side of the disgusting railing giggling at our little game.
I stop with the photos as we start chatting with the girls. The conversation is nothing especially interesting, mostly about the ride and who is scared and if anyone has been on it before. Then one girl in the group interjects in her sweet happy voice,
“I wouldn't mind having a dad that embarrassed me. I don’t get to see mine very much.”
It was a powerful lesson taught to me by a ten-year-old stranger. Dad's that are embarrassing or far from perfect, but are present are good dads.
Just to be fair to Olivia, here is a goofy photo of me standing in line.