The following was originally published on October 8, 2008. Click HERE to read the original post in its entirety. Ya know, if you feel the need.
Two and a half years ago, we went to a town fair. It was a typical New England shindig with too many little kids’ rides crammed into a too-small space in the center of town. Colorful signs advertised sticky cotton candy, gooey caramel apples and impossibly delicious funnel cake that would torture little tummies late into the night. The town green was filled with the usual rides – bouncy houses, trains, cars, the sensory assaulting fun house. And of course no fair would be complete without a couple of prize-laden black holes to throw money into.
At the time of the fair, Brooke was three and Katie was five.
Katie spotted the roller coaster and asked if she could go for a ride. Calling it a ‘roller coaster’ is severely overstating the case. It was one of those gentle toddler versions of a roller coaster, made to elicit a thrill from the two to six-year-old set. We counted out our tickets and got on line to take a turn.
While we waited, I asked Brooke if she’d like to go on the ride with her sister. Brooke was a kid who seemed to love speed. We would run down the street with her in her stroller, wind in her hair as she gleefully yelled, ‘Faster! Faster!’ Putting her on the caterpillar coaster seemed to make perfect sense. I had so little understanding of her back then.
When their turn came, Katie took Brooke by the hand and led her out to find a seat. I knew that getting buckled in would be tough. Brooke was fine on all the little slow-moving trains and car rides, but when someone came toward her to check her safety belt, all hell broke loose. On the littler rides it was easier for me to step in and run interference. At the roller coaster, I was stuck behind a barrier watching helplessly.
I watched them settle in and saw Katie’s posture immediately change. She leaned in toward her sister, hunched protectively over her. The man came over to check the belts. Katie said something to him. He nodded his head in return. Brooke stayed relatively calm.
The ride started with a sudden jerk and I watched with horror as abject terror flashed across my baby’s face. My body tensed and adrenaline surged through my system as she let go a tortured cry. I was desperately afraid that she was going to wriggle out of the belt and escape. I got ready to jump the fence and stop the ride.
But then I saw it – Katie’s mouth pressed to Brooke’s ear. As they came around the corner, I could see that Katie was singing. For the entire seventeen hour duration of that ride, Katie sang to her little sister. She did not stop for a moment.
When the caterpillar finally creaked to a stop, I shoved my way through the crowd and ran frantically past all of the other parents. As soon as I reached them, I scooped my girls out of their car. In the middle of that damned fair I let the tears fall at will. I squeezed Brooke as hard as she’d let me and then I thanked her sister up and down for taking such good care of her. I asked her what she had been singing. “The Itsy Bitsy Spider song, Mama. That’s what you always sing to her when she’s freaking out. She was really scared so I thought it would help her.”
As desperate as I was to leave the fair behind, we stuck around to indulge Katie. I’m pretty sure I even bought her a cotton candy. It’s a good thing they weren’t selling ponies.
The following was taken by Luau this weekend.
On the EXACT SAME ROLLER COASTER.
Say it with me, won’t you?