The last time we took Annie for a night out it was her birthday. We had such a nice time that I promised myself I’d make a point to do it more often. It’s kind of hard when I’m having to decide between spending time with her or taking my late evening nap. But Annie is a bit older now and not going to sleep as early as I’d like (is 5:30 really unreasonable for a 4.5 year old? Okay, I know it is), so I decided that we may as well go for it.
I’m terrible at buying Groupons. One of a few things happen: I didn’t read the fine print. I forget about it and then it expires. Or I end up getting ripped off because it isn’t an item I’d normally buy. All of that has happened to me at some point so you can imagine my hesitation in buying a Groupon ever again. Well, earlier this summer they were selling tickets to the Victorian Gardens amusement park in Central Park and I just couldn’t pass it up. I’d never gone — it seems pricey for what it is — but this was an amazing deal and it ended up costing me about 25% of the regular price. The catch? It has to be used between Monday and Thursday. Kind of hard considering that’s when camp is generally in session, but I realized that this would be a perfect opportunity to take Annie out on the town.
When I first presented Annie with the idea she was less than thrilled. She was like “I don’t want Judah and Lisi to have a babysitter, I want them to come.” So sweet. Then I showed her pictures and she immediately changed her tune. Every day for the next week “Mama, when is the babysitter coming so we can go to that place you showed me on your computer?” “Mama, are we going to that place after camp today?” “Mama, are we ever going to that place?” Then, the day came. It was cloudy for a good part of the day and raining on and off. My backup plan was a trip to Target. But then suddenly, right when it was time for the babysitter to come, it turned gorgeous and sunny outside so off we went!
I admit I was kind of nervous. I mean, Annie gets car sick. She throws up almost every time she goes in the car and vomit is not my department. Annie has never really been on any rides at an amusement park. Those rides on the sidewalk where you put a quarter in (or 2 quarters!) and it plays the Bob the Builder theme song were never a favorite. We did the whole Sesame Place/Disney thing way too early for her to appreciate it and I said I wouldn’t go back til she’s 7. When we arrived at Victorian Gardens Craig was totally swamped at work (bless him for working his butt off) and he couldn’t meet us, so we ended up with 2 extra tickets. The family behind us in line got VERY lucky and they even paid the tax for us (see, fine print!). Off we went to the rides.
Remember how I said it was rainy earlier that day? Well the clouds started rolling after we arrived. I guess that was a good thing because my guess is that there were no more than 35 people in the entire park, which meant no lines at all. Now that was good and bad. You see, I haven’t been on any amusement park rides in about 8 years. Eight years ago I loved rides. The bigger the better. The more drops the better. The faster the better. That lose your stomach feeling was the best. BUT that was 8 years ago. I thought Annie would be too scared to go on the rides alone so I tagged along. We did the airplanes and the cups that spin. OY. As I got off the rides I felt like the ground was moving underneath me. The last straw for me was the frog ride. It started off by going around and around, higher and higher and then it started hopping. HOPPING! WHY IS THIS HOPPING? Right, it’s a frog. Dammit! Okay Annie, you’re on your own.
That right there was a huge moment for me. It was the moment when I felt like I was too old for these rides. I had to sit down with my Coca-Cola fountain soda and keep applying it to my forehead to help with my cold sweat situation. It was also a big moment because Annie totally had this under control. She went on all the rides herself (she was exactly 42 inches, the magic height) and had the biggest sweetest smile on her face the entire time. She was such a big girl and totally didn’t need me. I was so proud of her. There was one ride I kept avoiding — it was this ride where you lie down on your stomach and it spins you around until you feel as though you’re flying in circles around Central Park. The problem was that she needed to be accompanied by someone over 48 inches. We did it, and pretty soon we both looked at each other hoping it would finally stop. It was a perfect last ride.
We stayed at the park until it closed. Her highlights included winning a stuffed pig playing whac-a-mole and getting to drink a blue Powerade. I’d be lying if I said this night was meltdown-free, however. I’m only sharing this because no outing with Annie is complete without a minor meltdown when we use public toilets and I’d love to get some help with this one. Annie is TERRIFIED of toilets that have automatic flushes. I’m not sure when this fear first started, and I can totally empathize with it to an extent, but let’s get real for a second. That’s what toilets do now. It’s the way of the future. You now don’t have to touch the dirty handle. It’s a good thing. Guess what? Victorian Gardens only has toilets that flush themselves. You should have heard the screams coming from the bathroom stall. We were both screaming. BUT she finally did it! It was the second proud-mama moment of the evening.
Afterwards we met Craig for dinner. Annie ate really nicely because I told her that if she did, I’d give her a quarter for the gum-ball machine. I also ate really nicely because that’s what I do best. All in all our night out was a success. I think we really needed it. And by “we” I mean “I”. I totally needed it. But next time I’m imagining something more my speed. Like a chocolate dipping class or Swedish massage. Too far? I do that sometimes.
Note: After having such a great evening I decided that I don’t hate Groupon anymore!