“Mom! Can we ride the Ferris wheel?? Please??!”
The plan was simple. My husband and I were going to divide and conquer inside the middle of the Disney California Adventure park. He would take our 8 year old on the ‘Incredicoaster,’ complete with its upside down mid-section, and I would take the other 3 boys on the Ferris wheel.
The Ferris Wheel… Known for being a calm, peaceful, predictable ride.
“Come on guys, let’s do this!”
There I was, holding my toddlers by their little hands, my pockets filled with snacks for the line-up, and my 6 year old walking beside me.
It was precisely at this point that I confidently and ignorantly led the 4 of us down the very wrong path.
I simply saw a loading zone ahead of me, the attendant ushered us into our Ferris Wheel car, and the doors shut tightly behind us.
“Grab your seat guys, isn’t this exciting?!” My words held weight I would soon fully grasp.
And then I saw it… as we were slowly emerging from the loading dock I saw the long line of people waiting in the “LINE FOR NON-SWINGING CARS.”
Up our car went as I whispered a “Noooooo!”
Instantly our car started its chaotic swinging, rocking, and terrifyingly circular journey.
Both toddlers immediately burst into panicked fearful wails and I felt my own ‘wimpy-when-it-comes-to-thrill-rides’ heart drop into my shoes.
It swung so far, first one way, and then the other…
“Why isn’t there a seat belt?!” I cried.
“Mamaaaaaaaa, I want out!!!”
“We can’t buddy, we have to stay on until it’s finished. We can be brave, you’re safe I promise, even though it doesn’t feel like it AT ALL!!” I didn’t even believe the words I had just spoken.
My grip around my 2 year old’s waist was so tight.
My 4 year old sat across from me paralyzed with fear and half sprawled on his seat.
My 6 year old confidently sat there with a huge grin on his face shouting, “Wheeeeeeeee!!!! This is fun!!”
Two eternal minutes passed…
The Ferris wheel finally reached the bottom, and I let out a huge sigh of relief, which was then met with, “Oh, ha… this sucker goes around twice…”
And so began our journey again; our second trip round the dreaded swinging rocking Ferris Wheel… but this time I had both toddlers on either side of me with a death grip around each of them, and my feet were pushed firmly against the seat across from me.
I wasn’t sure what else to do at this point.
We couldn’t get off the wild ride, we had to sit and wait it out.. so I made a choice in that moment to go all Proverbs 31:25 on the situation. You remember that verse, “She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future.”
I mean I was more clothed with partial strength and a little bit of sweat from walking 22000 steps around the Disneyland park, but the general idea still applies.
So round 2, I looked at my 6 year old and said, “Judah, you have to help me, OK?”
He nodded, and then, with EACH and EVERY ginormous swing we shouted “Wheeeeeeee” together at the top of our lungs, followed by, “Here comes another one! It’s just like a swing guys, it’s super fun, ready?!”
By the third round of this nonsense my 2 year old stopped wailing and after each swinging session, he would quietly say, “I OK mom. Swing mom.” and then he’d squeeze my arm a little tighter. Our plan had worked.
Sometimes life lessons are learned the hard way on the Ferris Wheel.
Sometimes you’re stuck on a ride you didn’t want to be on, and it’s the swinging crazy car that goes around twice…
And sometimes you just have to brace your feet against the bench in front of you and wait it out…
And while you’re there you have to choose to throw your head back and laugh without fear of the future, because you KNOW that you are secure…
And you have to choose to keep on fighting through that very last swinging event, until you once again reach solid ground.
Phew… We made it…
“Oh hey guys! Did you enjoy the Ferris Wheel?” The other half of our family politely asked as we all came together once again amidst the crowds and cotton candy stands.
“It was awesome Dad!” My 6 year old exclaimed.
The toddlers and I stood there slightly shaking and slightly shell shocked…
“Let’s call it… an unforgettable ride.” I said, with a wink, a grin, and a tiny sense of victory.