Long before there was a zygote of reality, sometime between “I do!” and “We’re pregnant!” I imagined what kind of interests my kids would have:
My kids would have great vocabularies because I would use the big words, no baby talk, and they would read for fun.
My kids would all love trying new restaurants and foods.
The smell of a library or museum would make them slow down and fully appreciate why a smile was crossing their faces.
They would cook with me for fun and, just like I had been the designated rider with my dad, I would raise roller coaster buddies.
I was really looking forward to that roller coaster one.
For most of my life, if a roller coaster crossed our path (or visa versa) Dad and I were in line for it. We people watched, experienced the thrilling three minutes of ride, then analyzed the experience on our walk back to Mom. No one else in the family liked them like we did. After 25 years, I’ve ridden ONE roller coaster with my husband.
Dad and I were at Worlds of Fun one day in the early 2000s and had just gotten off the Timber Wolf. He got a big smile on his face, shook his head and said in an It’s time for ice cream voice, “I think that was my last one.”
And it was.
I was sad, of course; the ends of eras always have a sad component. But I looked at the two little kids that were with us that day. Surely the next era had begun. I would become my dad and, per design, one of those two would take my role.
Later that very day we took the under 48-inches set to Camp Snoopy (since rebranded to “Planet Snoopy”.) The girl child did very well — she liked everything — but the boy?
“Are you sure I’m tall enough for this wiiiiiiide?” His speech impediment made shouting from the top of a mini-ride even more adorable. He happily hopped off after one go-around.
But I had my daughter as a roller coaster buddy. For years she rode them with me until one day we were waiting in line for her favorite, coincidentally, the very same ride that was Dad’s last.
“Can we get out of line? I don’t feel good about this.”
I thought it was just a phase but, eight years later, she still doesn’t want to go to an amusement park.
No problem! I had given birth to a final son a few years earlier. He could be my coaster partner.
He didn’t even pretend to like any part of it. The crowds, the lines and the discovery that he gets motion sickness. Fast.
Three children, no roller coaster buddies. Was I disappointed? A bit. But I have three kids with great vocabularies from an early age (although only one of them gets a thrill from the smell of libraries and museums.)
They all can cook well enough to feed themselves, and while I had two who liked trying new restaurants, one of them now has a dollar-to-appreciation level that’s too high for recreational dining.
But here’s the thing: I didn’t raise these three alone. My husband had his own dream-children, his own interests from his own childhood that he hoped to foster in them.
You think I dreamed of days in front of ESPN with my kids? Nope.
You think I dreamed of going fishing with them? Heck, no.
Our children all have things they do with me…but they also have things they do with their father because they aren’t just my kids — they’re also my husband’s.
But the thing I never dreamed of is the best: They are their own people with their own interests that they get to introduce to their parents.