Suddenly Teens: Yesterday’s Amusement Park Adventures

Suddenly Teens: Yesterday’s Amusement Park Adventures

I regarded the shade plants that sat grouped on the floor, looking for long moments at their fibrous stems. Few families grow utilitarian greens any more, electing, instead, to focus on fonds they deem attractive. Yet, indoor gardening of indigenous species is such a simple endeavor that it can even be taught to small children.


When my children were young and were thus occupied with horticulture, I was able to focus on my stationary bike. When I was able to exercise, I was able to slough off days’ worth of cortisol and adrenaline. When I eliminated such toxins, I was a nice person, in general, and a better mommy, more specifically.


These days, though, my problem is not one of intriguing my children into liking gardening or even one of trying to find activities to fill their hours, At present, my little ones are teens, are kids who are just as happy watching the slime trail of a snail as they are painting with acrylics or finishing their homework. To wit, currently, my problem is in capturing their attention at all. My kids not only reject a kiss to heal their boo-boos, they also don’t want Mommy to entertain them.


Accordingly, they have become less interested in the properties of flower pots, and of growth mediums and more interested in changing the hues of our walls and in solving trigonometric equations. Rather than focusing on watering and on double digging plant nutrients, my little ones prefer to decode the math of triangles and to test whether or not I knew what I was saying when I granted them permission to graffiti our parlor. The inverse operations they perform involving sines and cosines have, for some reason, become more fascinating than any herd of marigolds. I miss the kids.


I wonder whether or not the “tricks” I used a decade ago would still work to gain some time with them. I recall that I drew them to me, when they were small, with visits to playgrounds, to toy stores, and to even amusement parks. Whereas my sons and daughters were underimpressed by playgrounds given those lots’ accessibility and whereas I was beleaguered by toy stores given those mercantile houses’ absurd prices, we seemed to agree, both per fiduciary needs and per novelty, that outings to mechanical fairs were worthwhile. Thus, we collectively anticipated such shared time.


In balance, those entertainment centers we frequented possessed tribulations so significant that each such field trip, I swore I’d never need the cleansing properties of purgatory. It remained perilous to bring my children to those estates of Ferris wheels and of roller coasters.


En route, my little ones might throw hard candies at each other and at those cars that chose to use our particular stretch of highway. What’s more, my offspring would threaten to unbuckle from their seats just when we passed semitrailers, especially if we passed those monster trucks at “creative” speeds. My boys and girls sometimes even upped the ante by throwing up just when I was accelerating enough to get beyond one of those giants.


In response, I’d hum in time to the rain. It was inevitable that precipitation of some sort would fall during the lone half on hour that it took us to drive from our community to an amusement center.


Once we arrived at whichever fun park we had selected, I would suggest that we camp out near whatever artificial attraction decked the entrance gates. Goldfish ponds, simulated waterfalls and even parrot “jungles” looked and sounded appealing to me. My minions would have none of that plan, in spite of this. My children were unconcerned that their mom, chauffer and chaperone needed to power down after enduring the sibling wars she suffered during the drive. Rather, they pulled at me and whined until we arrived at whichever garishly painted electronic devices sat beyond a given park’s ticket sellers’ threshold. They actually wanted to experience all manners of those whizzing, burping mechanical beasts.


My children, for instance, entirely intended to self-determine the number of hands’ breadth from the ground any fun fair’s train rose and fell. In addition, they “needed” to discover what sorts of bacteria lay dormant in the buildings, which long ago had been used as latrines and which recently had been recycled into the lazar tag houses. Easily, my children deflected the jeers of park gatekeepers who had been taught to give priority to busloads of campers rather than to kowtow to the entrance needs of a mere family.


Nonetheless, once inside any park, we spent time and money not only on the rides and concessions but also on the brightly-colored betting booths otherwise referred to a as “gaming stations.” No matter their appellation, I knew such spots to be neon-lit opportunities for the foolhardy.


My kids, however, understood the malevolent money-sucking pits otherwise. To my precious ones, those lights and bells were as sweet as were the sirens encountered by Odysseus’ men. Once thus intrigued, my boys and girls would discard their plans to ride glimmering bumper cars, to spin in teacups, to cascade down chutes or to otherwise throw their digestive system into confusion. Even the arachnid-like rides, which cost multiple tickets, failed to compete with the Bop the Frog, Water Pistol Chase or Bean Bag Toss. Only when all known and hidden funds had been expended by my phenoms did they again insist on experiencing the vertical drop, on eating more candy than even proffered by our neighborhood’s 24 hour, and on watching the performance of flabby magician’s assistants, whose flesh-colored tights hid only part of those women’s past lives.


Looking back, I see, correspondingly, that my children’s love of contemporary media, their disdain for chores, and their desire to collect more pets than could be supported by even a sprawling cattle farm, relatively speaking, was tame when compared to their amusement park exploits. It might have been better, in hindsight, for me to have allowed them to: conquer multiple civilizations on their PC s instead of riding the Fiery Flume, blame an ant infestation for their unwillingness to sweep up after meals, rather than get their faces painted threes times in one summer, and let the wild kittens breed under the coleus rather than spend their allowances at the penny arcades. I couldn’t help myself when it came to my parenting choices, though; I was in love with the little ones and took unmeasurable pleasure in sharing their “wild” experiences.


Today, I no longer climb my aerobic steed, but exercise in a woman’s gym. Likewise, I no longer enjoy my offspring clambering for just one more trip to any park featuring a merry-go-round or a risky public bathroom. Cosecants and arctangents, as well as the subtle differences between dry and water-based washes have replaced my children’s need to bond with me over inflated ticket prices and poorly salted popcorn.


I pull my robe closer around my belly and dust off an imaginary bit of fuzz from my slippers. I glare at the wilted plants, frown at the freshly repainted stairwell wall and kick, surreptitiously, the pile of notes on hypotenuses and adjacent legs. Perhaps, I ought not to have lamented those amusement park days.

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