Wally World or Bust

With summer vacation in full swing, parents across the country are, come hell or high water, busy making memories with their children. Like Clark Griswold, parents taking their children are summer adventures mean business. My family is no different. Each year we take an annual camping trip to New Hampshire. As much as we love this tradition, the reality of the matter is that the joy to misery ratio is about 50:50. We envision the experiences around the campfire to be all Rockwellian—s’mores and hot dogs and all—only to have sopping wet wood from an untimely downpour and one child decide she is deathly afraid of insects, thus will not come outside the camper. We also envision our times at the local tourist theme parks to be all smiles, cotton candy, and rides galore, only to sweat our cans off while waiting in lines and to have one child decide he doesn’t like rides anymore anyway. All in good family fun, of course.

One particular moment of enlightenment come upon me in the food tent. Here we were, scarfing down our $100 chicken nuggets at a filthy, sticky table, when I took a moment to listen to the undercurrent of sound at Storyland. Was is laughter and joy? No, the undercurrent of sound was that of small children weeping. As if to accentuate this realization, the parents at the table next to us had their daughter on one of those backpack leash things. There she was, leashed, on all fours, crying her eyes out on the asphalt as her parents ate in silent misery. The whole scene was simultaneously frightening and hilarious. About the same time, a little boy came out of the cafeteria happily holding a plastic container of fruit salad. A (presumably sibling) accidentally smashed into this boy, launching the container and all of its contents onto the ground. I couldn’t exactly make out what the mother was hollowing, but we can all bet it wasn’t pretty. The costly fruit scattered helter skelter made for one heck of a telling still life, however. Later in the day, while waiting for the trolley ride around the park, one little girl was excitedly putting the coins into the pressed penny machine. Well, the excitement turned to unmitigated rage once the little girl saw the character on the penny she received. Apparently it was NOT the one she wanted, and she let out a scream that was so shrill and so loud and so long that I thought her head was going to spin a la Death Becomes Her. Her parents were mortified and trying to calm her down, but come 3pm at a theme park, we all understood there was simply NO taming the beast. No judgment here.

As we headed out that day, sweaty, exhausted and kind of hating each other, I had to wonder why so many parents and so many families take their kids to these places when it is so expensive and so stressful and so overwhelming for everyone involved. My answer became quite clear as we chatted about our day on the way back to the wet and buggy campsite: we do it because we all had great time and, by golly, we can’t wait to do it again next year.

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About Becky Jha

Born and raised in rural Connecticut , Becky DeMattia-Jha attended Salve Regina University in Newport, RI, and has her M.Ed. She has been teaching high school English for 15 years and currently resides in Massachusetts with her husband, their two children, and their German Shepherd. She spends her precious summer vacations indulging in passions other than literature: serving as a lactation peer coach, practicing herbal medicine, organic gardening, making natural cleansers and cosmetics, and preparing quick and easy organic recipes for her family. She hopes to share her efficient, chemical-free, eco-conscious, frugal, and simplistic homemaking and homesteading tips with you.

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