Continuing the theme of the day—Spin ’til We Barf—Chooch, Alyson and I were drawn to the Psychodrome, which is essentially a Scrambler cocooned within a geometrically-challenging steel dome. It was probably the longest line we stood in all day, which made me laugh because usually the Scrambler is one of those rides that people usually skip in favor of more extreme coasters and death traps, but I guess when you plant it beneath a strobe-lit octagonal (maybe? I didn’t do so well in Geometry) structure and blast pop music, people are more than happy to stand lifeless for 45 minutes listening to the faraway, tinny screams of each current round of Psychodrome riders.
There was a pre-teen girl in front of us and I noticed in my periphery her silently watching everything the three of us were doing: Chooch taking what he thought was clandestine videos of me (deleted in his sleep), Alyson and I speaking lovingly of our favorite TV workout hosts, Chooch doing everything in his power to bring he attention back to himself. I wanted to scold her for being nebby (Pittsburghese for “nosy” — there, I taught you something; rejoice), but that would entail me speaking to strangers and the only thing worse than speaking to strangers is when the stranger is a KID.
I shudder to think!
It seemed for awhile there that the line wasn’t moving.
“Do you think it’s closed?” Girl Stranger asked, breaking the small talk barrier.
I think I shrugged in response.
“Have you ever been on this before?” she asked.
We all mumbled no.
And then she would go quiet, searching the line for friendlier park patrons.
Girl Stranger looms in the background, and yes, she is watching me take this picture, the sole purpose of which was to capture her for posterity anyway, so look on, Girl Stranger. Look on.
“She’s alone and totally doesn’t know how to be by herself,” Alyson observed, which made me feel bad for my original judgments of “holy shit is this mini-broad annoying.”
Eventually, she found other people to interrogate, who told her that the ride lasted seven minutes and that’s why the line was moving so slow (and I know this because it was my turn to be nebby), so then I was starting to panic internally — I wasn’t sure exactly how stoked I was to be whipped around in a bevy of changing directions while strobe lights struggled to turn me into a temporary epileptic.
Meanwhile, Chooch was using the queue railings as makeshift monkey bars. I kept warning him that he was going to fall and die, but he’s a 7-year-old boy and knows everything, has published books on amusement park line gymnastics, what does some bitch mom know. Tiring of me nagging him, he moved from the top rail to the bottom, which I still wasn’t on board with but whatever — at least he was closer to the ground.
A few minutes passed and I saw it happen in veritable slo-mo: the slip of the hands, balance pulled out like a rug from beneath him, and then he was tilting back, back, back, until he had spun 180 degrees backward and kissing the asphalt with the back of his head.
Chooch, pre-head trauma. Also, I want that chair.
A 2 out of 10 as far as landings go.
Pretty sure the entire contents of the Psychodrome line ceased their conversations, put down their phones, turned off their One Direction daydreams in order to be ALL EYES ON CHOOCH.
Who, by the way, was red-faced and very openly weeping.
And that is when the lump in my throat informed me that I was going to have to….parent.
It’s so fucking awkward when your kid gets injured in public because no matter what, you’re going to feel like an asshole parent. Sure, I had put on the “You’re going to get hurt!” broken record, but no one else knew that. For all they knew, I had neglected him, forgot he was even there with me, or maybe I kicked him off the rail myself. WHO KNOWS?! You weren’t there! You don’t know!
There are several stages of emotions involved with being a parent seconds after your kid bites it:
1. Panic: OMG WILL I NEED TO DIAL 911?! ARE THERE BONES JUTTING FROM THE FLESH?!
2. Grief: MY KID IS CRYING AND I FEEL SO BAD!
3. Nausea: Usually only happens when blood is involved. Most commonly paired with Jello-legs.
4. Anger: I FUCKING TOLD THIS KID TO STOP [insert Jackassery here] BEFORE HE GETS HURT!
5. Fear: WE’RE THERE WITNESSES?! PLEASE DON’T CALL CHILD SERVICES.
6. Denial: NO I CAN’T DO THIS. SOMEONE ELSE HANDLE PLEASE. (Also known as “Worthlessness.”)
So he’s crying and burying his face into my stomach and I’m going through the “there there” motions, but I can FEEL THE EYES ON ME AND I DON’T KNOW WHAT TO DO! I felt for blood. None.
I looked at his pupils.
Seemed OK? I don’t know!
I couldn’t get him to calm down. Couldn’t find asshole Henry on any of the benches near the ride, further solidifying my hypothesis that he sneaks off to ride the helicopters in kiddie land every time we get in line for something too dangerous for his precious cargo. (I don’t know what that would be. His weener? Probably something he would consider precious.)
So I texted Henry “WHERE ARE YOU ASSHOLE” because god forbid I should be expected to handle something on my own. I was half-aware of Girl Stranger plucking some sort of tree dropping that Chooch had acquired during the grand finale of his klutz routine.
“Aw, that’s sweet of her,” I thought. But then she ruined the moment by asking me, “How many people do you think can ride this at one time?”
OH I DON’T KNOW, let me think about that after I make sure my kid remembers his name. God!
I asked Chooch if he wanted to go sit down, all the while praying that he says no, that he still wants to ride the Psychodrome, because lord knows we had invested enough time rotting away with all the other mouth-breathers in this motherfucking god forsaken line. And I briefly worried that people would judge me, like, “I can’t believe that woman is going to take her child on a ride like this when he clearly concussed according to the Google search I just performed because I have nothing better to do than criticize other parents instead of tending to the needs of my own children who I think I may have left in the car.”
But a cursory glance told me that most of the people in the line were other teenagers who had probably moved on to other things, like sexting, once they realized that no one was bleeding. And then I briefly made the situation bad again by telling Chooch that the bump on the back of his head was only going to get larger until it eventually hatched and he would probably feel much better once all the baby spiders exited.
And if he was concussed, I think a fling on the Psychodrome would have diagnosed it for us, and luckily he didn’t come staggering out of the other side vomiting up thick yellow digestive juices and wondering why everyone was suddenly speaking in ringing bells. (Although I was pretty close to it, so maybe I have a concussion? HENRY WHAT DID YOU DO?!)
A rare photo of the Oh Honestlys.
Pretty much my only memory of the ride was Chooch chastising me for not recognizing the Ke$ha song pinging off the steel dome, and then the lights went out and everyone screamed for an unlimited collection of minutes and then I was stumbling out into the sunlight. Amazing what dumping the Scrambler into a makeshift discoteque can do to ones nervous system. Never have I ridden a ride with such an apropos name. I later learned that this was Stephen King’s runner-up subject for “Under the Dome.” (Please don’t fact check that, thanks.)
And then just in case Chooch didn’t do enough damage during his tumble, I took him on the Turkish Twist, a quick-spinning cylindric room with a dropping floor, to further scramble his brains. That’s just being a good parent.
Toward the end of the day, Alyson and I strong-armed Chooch into riding the Untamed (pictured above). That first 90 degree drop was right next to the line, so we had a good 30 minutes of listening to people scream like murder victims, which didn’t do much to reassure Chooch.
When it was our turn, the ride operator asked him if he was OK, because his face was blanched and his eyes were deadened. “He’s fine!” I lied with a nervous laugh.
I mean, that looks like the face of someone who’s fine, right?
When we pulled back into the ride platform, the ride operator asked Chooch if he liked it.
“NO!” he screamed, and that’s when I realized that not only was he scared, he was PISSED. “I kept hitting my head! And then HER purse hit me in the face!” he spat, pointing to Alyson.
Chooch right now just said to me, “Don’t even write anything about me crying because I never cried!!” even though he totally did.
Later, I asked him what his favorite ride was and he said the Untamed. Makes sense.
Metal, even on the Tea Cups.
We laughed our asses off on the Tea Cups, while Henry frowned from a distance.
And if I had to sum the day up in one picture, it would be this one. So stoked for Canobie. Thank you, Alyson, for taking us there! Give me a good, old-fashioned amusement park over Six Flags ANY day!