Since Broden’s birthday lands after Spring Break, we usually plan a trip for him and fill it with activities that he loves to do. This year, our plan was to drive to San Antonio for Morgan’s Wonderland and Sea World. Two years ago, it was a hit, so we thought we would make the trek one last time before PCSing near the east coast. With my husband, the master planner, our trip was organized down to where we would stay, when we would arrive, and each stop along the way.
Our small convoy consisted of our family and my parents following us in their car. My husband Mark was so proud as we drove down the highway arriving closer to our exit for Morgan’s Wonderland. He gloated, “We are a little ahead of schedule. It doesn’t look like it will rain so this will be perfect for Broden.” After taking the exit, Mark looked down the hill to see inside the park. Looking concerned he said, “Shelly, is there anybody in there? It looks really quiet.” As I looked over in denial, I assured him that it is not closed because the park never closes during Spring Break. According to my brilliant calculations that is just un-American.
My husband’s face went from concerned to horrified as we pulled into an empty parking lot. I blindly said, “Oh, we
are the first ones in the park!” I looked over at my parents and you could see they were starting to get concerned like
Mark. We both looked on the gate and screamed in horror as we read the sign: “Closed.” I grabbed my phone and called Morgan’s Wonderland, because obviously this was a huge mistake. To much of our dismay, it was true. The park was closed. In my fake voice, I thanked the gal on the phone and nodded to Mark that this nightmare is truly happening. The one thing we did not plan for was for the park to actually be open.
Hayden, in the back, started to ask questions and came to the determination that this Spring Break will truly be the worst ever in Huhtanen history. Mark and I slid out of the car and walked to my parents. I knew what both of us were thinking. We didn’t call to make sure the park would be open and, of course, it wasn’t our fault. It was obviously the other parent’s fault. I looked at Mark and his eyes started to get beady, and then he began to twitch. He spat out, “Let’s try Six Flags!” I soon became the unsupportive wife and yelled back, “Are you crazy!? Broden will freak out at Six Flags! That’s for big kids!” After that moment, I started to have visions of the last 15 minutes of the movie, “Vacation”, where Chevy Chase loses it because Wally World is closed. I quickly changed my tune and said, “Ok, let’s try it.”
We got back in the car and drove to Six Flags. I was quiet and grew extremely anxious when we started to see adult roller coasters peaking through the trees. I kept thinking, “People are screaming in that park. I am hearing blood curdling screams.” How could this be fun? If we threw Broden on a ride, it would take 10 years to work through the trauma. I was biting my lip as we got to the front. Mark purchased the tickets, turned to me in his crazy Chevy Chase voice and says, “Here’s the tickets. We’re going to have fun. Broden’s going to have fun. We’re doing it. We’re going to Six Flags.” I started to get the kids as I looked over in horror.
Our family convoy stared at Broden as we walked into Six Flags. He began with his head burrowed in my waist, but started to look around and see what was going on around him. Hayden spotted a ride with a huge boat that went up and around, then dove deep and low into a lake of water. We watched as everyone left the ride wet. Of course, I heard screaming on this ride, lots of screaming. I told Hayden he’s crazy, but there was no stopping him, “Well, I’m going. Broden you coming?” Our mouths dropped as Broden started to follow him down the ramp. I soon followed and then Mark followed me. I kept thinking, “This is insane.” We strapped in to start the ride. Broden’s eyes were big and got bigger as we moved up in elevation. He yelled out. I can only imagine the obscenities he wanted to say to Hayden at that moment. We grabbed Broden so he didn’t fly out of the boat in preparation for the huge drop into the water. We all screamed and then barreled into the water. We were soaked and all of us looked at Broden. He looked back and smiled. Yes, he smiled.
For a glimpse, I feel like we are a normal family.
That ride started off a full five hours of rides and roller coasters. Broden no longer followed Hayden; he started to lead us through the park. Some rides he liked, and there were a few he didn’t like. But what’s so great about the experience is that he wasn’t afraid to try. After leaving the park exhausted, my Dad said, “I’m so glad Morgan’s Wonderland was closed. It forced us to try something new, something we didn’t think to try before.” Mark and I left that park as changed parents. Mark said, “For a glimpse, I feel like we are a normal family.” No longer was Broden the small fragile child that needed coddling, but a growing boy who was willing to try anything. In our hearts, he was the boy who can accomplish anything.