I'm kind of an emotional guy. When it comes to defending and protecting my son, I am finding that I have a very short fuse.
Busch Gardens, Virginia: If you have ever been there you understand that it is basically built on the side of a mountain. It is extremely hilly and difficult to navigate on foot, and it's spread out over acres and acres of beautiful property.
Understanding how difficult the terrain is to navigate, the Busch people designed an elaborate system of Sky Rides that gently whisk you through the air to various Sky Ride depots around the park. Seems pleasant enough, right?
It was about 103 degrees and 99.9% humidity. My son was about 4. My daughter was about 7 and my wife was about... (do you think I'm crazy?) We brought Eric's stroller that basically served as our pack mule for the day, loaded with all of our ammunition to keep Eric happy. It held his juice, his Sesame Street guys, his cloth diapers, spare clothes, an ironing board and, probably a power tool or two. And guess what... strollers weren't allowed on the Sky Ride (they are now, and I think I am solely responsible for that change of policy).
I don't remember what got into us, but we must have been feeling especially froggy that afternoon. We wanted to make a trip to the other side of the park, which might as well have been the other side of the continent. We assessed the risk, Eric's mood, our overall stress level at the time and our chances for going down in flames, and decided to park the stroller and take the Sky Ride to the other side of the planet... I mean park.
Eric LOVED the Sky Ride and, to this day it remains his favorite ride at any amusement park. We touched down about 300 nautical miles from where we left our stroller and actually had a pleasant 4 or 5 minutes of entertainment. Until....
Eric wanted his diaper. No, I mean Eric WANTED HIS DIAPER NOOOOW!
Patience has never been his strong suit. I'm not quite sure where he gets that trait. But he went into complete meltdown... kicking, screaming... snot flying meltdown.
I wiped the sweat off my brow and did what any chivalrous moron husband would do: I volunteered to take the Sky Ride back to the other side of the planet with Eric and retrieve his coveted diaper.
I had to pick him up and carry him. Did I mention it was 156 degrees? We reached the Sky Ride depot and the line to board the freaking thing was about 20 minutes long. Eric continued to kick and scream and was beyond being reasoned with. I kept a brave face on and held it together all the way through the line. I reached the boarding platform and... let's call him Billy. Billy the 17 year old Sky Ride operator stopped us.
"Sir, he can't get on the ride while he is screaming and kicking. It's a safety hazard."
My peripheral vision started to go black, but I kept it together a little longer. "He's OK," I said. "I just need to get to his stroller on the other side of the park. He'll be fine once we get on."
My man Billy was bucking for Head Safety Officer or something. "I'm sorry, Sir. I am not allowed to let any child who is screaming and kicking on the ride."
Yeah, I think you know where this is going...
"Listen, Billy. That is the second time you called this thing a 'RIDE'. It's not a 'RIDE'. It is TRANSPORTATION! The jackasses who built this freaking park designed it so you have to use these flying death boxes to navigate this Hell Hole! I'm not trying to get on for my enjoyment! I'm getting on and you are pressing that God-Damned green button."
Billy had spunk. "It ain't happening, Sir." Then he picked up his little bat-phone to call security.
I have a very well-paying job and a great pension. My bosses don't often see the humor in disorderly persons arrests in far-away states. I'm not good at math, but I did a quick calculation in my head and realized Billy was holding all the cards. I backed down.
I carried my son through the entire park on foot. Somewhere around mile 15 he fell asleep on my shoulder and I actually began to chuckle to myself. "Someday I'm going to write about this. They will never believe me."