Riding the Real Roller Coaster

I turned 40 last month and was going to blog about how I was fine with it – all the stuff I’ve learned that I wouldn’t want to relearn and all that. But I ended up blogging about other topics and it’s a good thing because I would have ended up eating my words. You see, after a trip to Paramount Carowinds Monday with Cade, I realize that my body is definitely, undeniably 40, but my mind has been in a state of denial.

Going to Carowinds was a milestone for Cade. Not only would it be his first trip to the park, but his first ride on a real roller coaster. It had been years since I’d been to an amusement park and I was truly looking forward to the rides and hanging out with my little man.

Cade and I hit the park gates just after they opened. Our first stop was the Danny Phantom Flyer ride. This thing:

I hopped on with Cade without hesitation but quickly started to feel woozy as the ride spun around faster and faster. I tried to focus on stationary objects but to no avail and started to feel slightly nauseous. Fortunately the ride came to a merciful end before I was in danger of actually hurling.

Wait a minute. This is our first ride. And I’m nauseous? What the…?

I grew up in Virginia, home of Busch Gardens and Kings Dominion. I used to ride the Loch Ness Monster over and over, running from the exit gate right back to the entrance gate to go again. But…that was twenty years ago. Okay, more than twenty years ago.

Once on stable ground I felt better and so we decided to take on the Fairly Odd Coaster (from the Fairly Odd Parents show). I figured it was the circular motion that got me on the Phantom Fliers. I’d be fine on a roller coaster – especially one approved for kids under 48” tall. As luck would have it Cade and I ended up in the last car, which made us both feel like we were about to fly out of our seats when we roared down the first drop. That feeling scared the you know what out of Cade. When I saw the photo of his face I had to get it even if it was a ridiculous $10. That expression is priceless!

We ended up riding this coaster two more times and I can assure you Cade’s face is much happier and less fearful by the third time. The look on mine, however, was less happy and more concerned about yakking all over the people in the cars behind me. By the third ride I’d become exhausted from the heat, my legs were tired from walking and I seriously regretted partaking in some of Cade’s cotton candy.

The next day I was so tired I could hardly put one foot in front of the other. Today my shoulders are still sore from my death grip on the roller coaster bar. Cade, however loved it all. In between my moments of nausea, vertigo and indigestion, we had some wonderful mommy-son time before Anna got back from Chicago and the typical sibling bickering ensued again.

But one thing is for sure. Carowinds showed me I am not as young as I sort of believed myself to be. As much as my mind might be in the “40 is the new 30” camp, my body gave me a different message loud and clear: “Face it, honey. You really are 40.”

Score one for the roller coaster.

Sara Ellington is the author of The Mommy Chronicles: Conversations Sharing the Comedy and Drama of Pregnancy and New Motherhood (Hay House, 2005) and The Must-Have Mom Manual (Ballantine/Random House, April 2009).



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