This past weekend we took Lilah on her first trip to Adventureland. I guess you could call it an initiation of sorts; a true introduction to the beauties of being a child during the summer time. It had been years since I had been to the park and on the drive there I felt like a child; eager and excited, sweating with anticipation of what lay before me. The smell of funnel cakes and blacktop, game workers yelling out that for three dollars they could guess my weight, the chances of getting absolutely soaked on the raging river and the nerve induced stomach aches as you quietly await your turn on the Tornado.
In other words… the memories of childhoods past. When I was younger going to Adventureland always signified that summer had indeed arrived. At first our trips to the “a fun filled day” were courtesy of my parents working at Principal. The company, as lots do, would designate a special day for all of its employees. Tickets would be ordered and a free picnic would be included and then the day would be yours to enjoy, finding the perfect ride to test your level of bravery. I always chose the roller coasters, a trait that I inherited from my dad. I was and still am by no means an “adventurous person” but there was something about the speed and the sound of the steel on the tracks that called to me.
When the announcement came out that June 12th had been designated my companies day at Adventureland I was beyond excited. We had passed on the chance to go last year after storms the morning of the big day squandered dreams of sunny skies and amusement park weather. Instead we spend the afternoon at a movie, only to come out of the theater, sun shining and temperatures warming. This year I was determined not to let a little thing like rain stand in my way and we packed the stroller and camera and headed off to Altoona.
Ryan and I were curious to see how Lilah would do once we got there, being as it was her first experience with amusement park rides. After we took the obligatory picture at the front gate we walked her over to the little cars, silently praying that she would forgo all signs of separation anxiety since we couldn’t actually go on the ride with her. When it was her turn, I took her up to the platform, let her pick the color of car she wanted and strapped her in, tiptoeing my way back to the conveniently located “parents area”. The music started playing and the ride started spinning and I was expecting full blown cries to ensue. Instead just the opposite happened, a huge smile made its way across her face and she turned the metal wheel of the car feverishly. When the ride was over she clapped her hands saying, “Again” and we walked along to the next ride.
This pattern continued our entire day and she rode the semi trucks with daddy, the dragons with Frances, the wagon wheel Ferris Wheel with mommy, the boats, ladybugs and ran into a friend from daycare. The two of them walked hand in hand throughout the park, whispering in their two year old language to each other and ignoring all requests to hold an adults hand. People passing by commented on the two cute little girls as we smiled proudly at the girl our baby had become. Before leaving for the day we took a train ride around the grounds, me for the first time able to see what the park looks like through a child’s eyes. Excited over the lights and sounds, pointing at the people and flowers, watching Lilah allowed me to appreciate the simplicity in which she sees the things around her and I too spent the ride in complete enjoyment.
As summer quickly passes us I am reminded of all the things that I loved so much when I was younger; fireworks, lighting bugs, night time baseball games, drive in movies, sprinklers, Tropical Sno… and all the things that I cannot wait to experience all over again, this time hand in hand with Lilah.