When my daughter was young, she loved amusement parks. She had no problems getting up before the crack of dawn and going to the park to be first in line and making her way to the scariest rides, where she’d beg my wife and I to ride with her. I love roller coasters too, so I was excited to oblige her passion.
When she was 11 or 12, we went to Disney’s Animal Kingdom at the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida. The big new ride at the time was Expedition Everest, a steel roller coaster themed around a runaway train traveling through the Himalayas that comes across the Yeti. As planned, we made our way to the ride, but the line spiraled out in front of us and looked to be an hour to two hour wait.
Waiting in line
Besides my wife and I, we had our two sons. They were still young and wanted no parts of the Yeti. We decided to come back later in the day. Of course, we spent the day running from exhibit to exhibit. At one point, it looked like we were going to have to skip the ride altogether.
I was devastated. My daughter was looking forward to the ride. In one last ditch effort, my wife and I decided to split up, she’d take our sons to grab some ice cream, I would take my daughter to check on the length of the line for the Yeti.
My luck on these sort of things runs 50-50 at best, but on this day, I must have been the fortunate one. I’m not sure how it happened, but we timed the ride perfectly. The ride had been closed and when it reopened there was next to no line. We walked right onto the ride with minimal waiting time.
Of course, the ride was just what she expected and then some. When we walked out, I noticed that the line had barely started collecting people. I looked at her with a “wanna go again” look, but quickly added that she couldn’t tell mom we rode twice, because we were supposed to join up again right away.
“Do you even have to ask Dad?”
Life as a father has lots of ups and downs. Your kids come to you all the the time asking you fix things, to make things right. Sometimes you can help, sometimes you can’t. In this one instance, I was able to step in and make a little girl extremely happy.
Times have certainly changed. When your kids get older, it becomes tougher to swoop in and make things right. You’re not always able. I’m not sure how it is for others, but I know that I haven’t always been able to fix things or make them perfect.
First, I never wanted to be a helicopter parent. You know the type, the parent who hovers over their kids and is hyper-involved in their children’s lives and experiences. I’ve always wanted my kids to live their own lives.
Secondly, I’ve learned that letting go can be challenging, but interesting in its own right. I’ve gotten a kick out of watching to see what solutions they come up with to their problems. The solutions aren’t always the choice I would choose, but they work and they’re interesting none the less.
Can you hear me now
For example, my youngest son’s phone stopped working recently. The phone had gotten wet and wouldn’t turn on, it would get stuck on the opening screen. I fully expected my son to get annoyed, maybe even complain a little, and want to immediately replace the phone. If I were a betting man, I would’ve bet money that he was going to get on Apple’s site the same night and order a new phone.
Instead, my son took the phone to his college’s IT help desk and, when they couldn’t fix it, he took it to a phone tech support center. In the middle of all that, the phone started working fine on its own.
Now his phone is starting to show its age and we need to come up with a longer term solution, but it was neat to see him try to handle his problem like an adult — without a lot of help from me.
So, I’m left with one simple question: When did this kid get so wise and when did he become an adult?