“Okay, then,” Mary said while reading the map of Kings Island to get her bearings. “Where does everybody want to go?”
We were all huddled together just inside the park entrance on International Street. The kids, fortunately, knew nothing of the amusement park, sparing us the back-and-forth of three opposing opinions. They quietly stood there gawking at all of the splendor that awaited us. Mitch and I took the experienced route and deferred to Mary’s judgement.
“Nobody wants to go anywhere. Okay, then, let’s start over here,” Mary said, pointing to the Paramount Action Zone™, “and we’ll work our way back to the Vortex™ and The Beast®.” Mitch and I gave each other a look and a nod of approval.
The first ride we came to was Congo Falls, a Shoot-the-Chute water ride featuring a 34-foot drop into a lagoon that practically guaranteed that everyone riding would get wet. Mary had all three kids worked into a fevered pitch to ride this thing until Abby learned that she would get wet. The family pleaded with her to go on the ride with them so that everyone could go, but she firmly stood her ground. The family was ready to move on to the next ride until I “selflessly” volunteered to stay behind with Abby so that they could foolishly enjoy getting drenched.
I say “selflessly” in quotation marks because I was also prepared to take a hard pass on the ride. The last time we adults were all at Kings Island together we rode a water ride that got me drenched and left me with uncomfortably damp tightie-whiteys until I arrived at home late that night. I swore to never ride a water ride ever again. I owed Abby big time for allowing me to save face.
Abby and I found a park bench that allowed us a clear view of the ride. The two of us sat and talked for several minutes while the others waited in line. Things were rather pleasant until the inevitable happened. “When will they be back?” Abby asked me. Memories of that horrid Sunday morning watching Barney the Dinosaur with Sean immediately came to mind.
“Soon,” I told her.
“I don’t know, Abby. Not long, I hope.”
Abby was growing more impatient by the minute. Soon, the pouting began. “I want my mom.”
“Just be patient, sweetie,” I said to her. “Look,” I said, pointing at ride’s boarding area, “there they are. They’re almost on the ride.” I couldn’t see squat at that distance. It was just a ruse to distract her. It didn’t work.
The back-and-forth between the two of us went on for several more minutes. Abby’s patience was fading fast, but not nearly as fast as mine was. She began to play around on the fence that kept us out of the landscaping. This continued for only a few minutes before she complained about being stuck. What the [granddaddy of swears] now , Abby, I wondered. A quick look revealed that her hair was stuck to the top rail of the fence. The crying began in earnest. Hers, not mine.
“Hold on,” I told her as I grabbed her hair to free her of her predicament. The temptation to pull in the wrong direction was there but I couldn’t do that to her. Her hair, and the wad of gum it had adhered to, came free. “There you go, kid,” I said.
“Gum?!? I have gum in my hair?” The crying grew even worse. “Where’s… my… mommy?” Abby sobbed. I tried to console her and hug her and she wanted none of it. “I want my mommy!” Passersby were starting to look at us and were possibly thinking I had kidnapped this wailing child.
For the first and only time, I wanted be far away from my little goddaughter. Being back home and enjoying a day off sounded very good at that moment.
Several minutes later, Abby’s family finally returned, soaking wet from the ride. Abby ran up to her mommy, sobbing about the gum stuck in her hair. Mary worked her Mom Magic on Abby’s hair, removing as much of the gum as she could and getting the darling child to calm down. She gave Abby a hug, looked up at me, and silently told me, “I’m sorry.”