My mom is still in town so we left the twins with her for the day. Adam, the older boys, and I headed up to Gurnee in time for the opening of the park.
We weren’t even sure it would work. It was the last day left of summer break that we were free and able to go, but the weather channel was predicting an 80% chance of rain.
Adam finally figured out that for an extra $40 dollars, instead of buying day passes and parking we could get a season pass, so the prospect of showing up and getting rained on didn’t seem so discouraging.
Still, we packed our rain gear and, at the last minute, threw in some sunscreen just in case.
Jack was a complete daredevil, riding the scariest roller coasters without a hint of fear. Unfortunately Ben was the opposite. He spent a lot of time on the sidelines, his fear paralyzing him. Sometimes we would cajole, beg and plead him into a line, only to have to walk right through to the exit.
It was very sad to watch. Adam spent a lot of time trying to convince him to do more. When it was my turn I took more of a laid back approach, not pushing him to do anything he found scary (which was everything, even the carousel was a source on anxiety.)
There were only a few times when sitting out worked, like with this ride, where you can soak the riders from the path…Can you see Adam and Jack on the boat?
At some point during the day Adam asked Ben if he was having a good time and he said yes. I was glad to hear it, but heartbroken at the same time. One day perhaps just sitting around spectating won’t make him happy anymore. And then what? Will he then conquer his fears? Or be depressed by his limitations?
Still, even without the rides Adam made sure he did other things he enjoyed. He seemed to show some interest in the characters, perhaps because they were so furry, who could help themselves from wanted to touch them?
And he was pretty happy to fill his own bag of candy at the end of the night…
I think the biggest lesson I took away from today’s adventure is that we have to accept Ben for who he is, not who we want him to be. Maybe someday he’ll like amusement parks. But maybe not. We just have to keep searching to find the things that make him light up with joy, not fear. It may not be the thing most boys his age like. He beats to a different drum. And that’s okay.