My teenage daughter was a daredevil. Amanda wasn’t afraid of anything at all. She’d traveled all over the United States with her friends. She had snow skied the highest mountains. She had ridden the most thrilling rides at all of the amusement parks. And now she was asking me to get on this slingshot thingy with her.
We were at the beach for vacation. My boyfriend of many years was along with us, as well as my son. The guys were on her side. “Go ahead, do it with her. It will be fun.” I refused to get on that thing. I knew surely I would die along with my daughter, leaving my son with no mother and no sister.
Then I had an idea. I knew it must be expensive. I asked the operator how much. He told me a figure and although it wasn’t too bad, I over-dramatized, “Oh my gosh, I don’t have that much money to waste on this. We need to eat and have gas money to get home.” I was a single mother and it made sense to me.
But then the boyfriend stepped in. He had become buddies with the ride operator during my pondering of excuses, and suddenly he said, “Why don’t you let them ride for free.” Oh no, he didn’t! Please tell me he didn’t just ask that. I was mortified. Not only had he killed my plan, but he had embarrassed me. He was the type who wasn’t afraid of asking such questions.
To which the ride operator answered, “Sure, why not? I’ll just let them do it for free.”
So Amanda and I walked over and sat in the seat. The ride operator came over to fasten the safety harness. “WAIT!!!!” I shouted. I sprang up from the seat and out of the contraption. “I can’t do this.”
I looked back at Amanda in the seat and she was pouting. “Please, mom!” She wanted to do this so badly and she wanted me to experience it with her. “Someday,” I’m thinking…”someday you will realize what it is to be a mother and you won’t want to do these kinds of things. And I hope your daughter begs you to do it, too.”
I sat back down in the contraption and the ride operator strapped us in. He pulled the chain fence up in front of my boyfriend and my son. I just knew this would be the last time I’d see them. The ride operator went back to his station and turned the ride on. First, steel arms began to stretch the elastic bands upwards as cables held our seat firmly in place. Up, up, up, the bands stretched like rubber bands on a slingshot. Then it happened. The seat released and we were pummeled several hundred feet into the air, tumbling around and around. Noises came from my mouth that I didn’t recognize. My daughter was screaming a blood-curdling scream. I knew we were just going to spring right up to Heaven, never to be seen again on Earth.
But after a few too many bounces, the seat began to stabilize. The seat then started lowering to the ground. I looked at Amanda and she looked at me. “Oh mom, that was so much fun! Aren’t you glad you did it?” And seeing the look on her face, I was.