816 North

Trip to Branson the ticket for family ‘adventures’

I’ve been fixing to get back Ssouth again. It’s that time of year when the national dance competition is taking over Branson. We are loading the van and toting sequins, tights and hairspray in bulk. Just because my daughter is competing doesn’t mean we won’t have time to catch a touch of fun, frivolity and some show composed of frilly-dressed domesticated pets.

Imagine the old Lawrence Welk show, but instead of Champagne Ladies, the Aqua Net is used for teasing the fur up on gifted house cats and dogs.

Actually, it’s been many years since our last family trip to Branson, and there are a few reasons for not returning until now. Despite both daughters needing to throw up after every seventh roadside billboard, the winding scenery was pretty enough. Thankfully, we are learnin’ folk because on the return trip, we stocked up on enough Dramamine to sedate an elephant. Which reminds me to add something to my grocery list.

But other than all that, Branson was just fine.

Except I have what some would call a picky eater. That’s if you call not eating anything but Ritz crackers and peanut butter for three days picky. One thing I hadn’t read on the brochures was after choking down the cost of every show ticket, you have to choke down a big ole cowgirl meal piled high with meat.

My vegetarian child wasn’t pleased the only dinner option came with a side of meat, something green, and your choice of water, tea or Pepsi to guzzle from a plastic boot. Never had I experienced such a classy operation; but don’t you worry, after several washings, I was able to scrape all the sticky off our shoes picked up from the theater floor.

Other than all that, Branson was just fine.

Except my girls are not fond of water sports, calf roping or miniature golf. Last trip my husband and I thought a few hours of games and rides at the local arcade would win them over. The place was packed with kids running loose, old men watching the chaos from log shaped benches and a super cool bumper car room. It had flashing lights and upbeat songs shooting from the 1970s disco speakers. Good family fun, right?

My eldest daughter gave her ticket to the bored man at the gate and tore off in search of a pink car. My tentative youngest decided to watch her big sis first before committing to the ride. After hearing all her sister’s squeals and squawks of laughter, she wanted a piece of that!

She timidly circled the concrete floor searching for the perfect color and model. Strapped in and ready for fun, the cars started moving and with one quick slam to her back bumper, she was screaming like her hair was on fire.

“Stop this thing! Somebody make it stop now!!”

As her mother, the fight or flight instinct kicked in, but my husband said we couldn’t leave her there, so I ran toward the ticket guy who by this time wasn’t so bored anymore. I guess there wasn’t a section in the young man’s operating manual on how to handle a crazed child making blood-curdling demands.

I kept pushing through the crowd while trying to pacify my child, by screaming words of affection that she probably couldn’t hear anyway. Thankfully, she wasn’t old enough to unhook her seatbelt or she’d be halfway to Kansas City before I got the ride to stop. In line with the freaked out ticket guy and a bold red sign reading no one could be on the floor while cars were moving, I took a big risk like any brave mother would… I had my husband retrieve her.

But other than that, Branson was just fine!

Five years have passed since our family’s favorite vacation, but this time will be different. The girls are older, have more courage and I mapped out all the hot spots to hit in our spare time. The kitty and puppy show will obviously be a winner for the kids, just as the Titanic museum will be for me.

Don’t think for one second, I won’t be belting out Celine Dion’s title song while dangling over some random bannister. Come on, Branson’s a show town and everything will be just fine!

Stacey Hatton adores emails to the Pony Express and can be reached at LaughingWithKids@ yahoo.com.