I’ve had a few invitations, in recent months, to take the kids to one amusement park or another, all of which happen to have a water-rides or fountains section. This year, it’s just worked out so that it hasn’t, well, worked out; Willem took the kids to a place in York, Maine, a few times, but I never ended up at anyplace similar.
This is OK with me, since the combination of my back problems – which I got to explain to the kids in full anatomical detail today, since they accompanied me to a doctor’s appointment, there happened to be a skull-to-coccyx model of the spine hanging out in the exam room, and the doctor was running late; interesting watching their brains work – anyway, back problems, pregnancy, migraine history, they add up against me… generally about one set of theme park rides a year is more than sufficient, even though I do love a good roller coaster or log flume ride.
Plus, I have a very limited tolerance for the fashion decisions made by some parents, displayed at such places. Little girls, barely past the Frankenstein-lurch of toddlerhood, wearing animal-print string bikinis, see-through “cover-ups” that protect neither their modesty nor their proneness to sunburn, hair elaborately and provocatively styled, earrings and even the occasional bit of makeup… any one of these things might not bother me, but when you start adding them together, I become increasingly disgusted. I honestly would find the whole situation less disturbing if the kids were just running around altogether naked; somehow the skimpy outfits are just inappropriate and skin-crawling to me. All-the-way nakedness, especially of the delightfully unself-conscious goofiness of a toddler, has an innocence that is completely eradicated with the addition of a leopard-print bra and panties.
And, of course, let’s not forget that their little-boy counterparts, who are almost never showcased to highlight their pre-budding sexuality. They get solid swim trunks, coverage from waist to knee, and if they’re wearing a cover-up it is for the purpose of actually, you know, covering their bodies. Instead, they run around with mean-looking toy guns or swords, souvenirs or brought from home, pretending to slaughter family and strangers alike. If they’re so unfortunate as not to have actual toys with which to menace the general populace, then they’ll find a stick, an umbrella, a straw, anything to simulate random, repercussion-free violence.
Somehow most of my trips to amusement parks – especially the lower-rent ones, perhaps because the parents are less desperate to document every moment (and therefore extend some vague effort at control and moderation) if they’re not shelling out Disney-level prices, because otherwise there’s no visible difference in the actual behavior and comportment of the crowds at either sort of place – morph from fun, overstimulating, exhausting days at a big machine-driven playgrounds into a less-than-admiring experiment in social commentary. I’m reminded of just how much more restrictive I am when it comes to both the exposure to, and the expression of, sex and violence in our home. (Which is a whole other post, for another day, but the short version is, the kids don’t watch violent shows, and even things like The Incredibles fall into that category, unless one of us is there to watch along with them, and violent play is strictly disallowed in our house, even when that makes me an uncool mom during playdates. Sex is treated a bit less intensely, because in my view sex should and will eventually become a natural part of their lives, but there is no reason that violence has to… but still, spaghetti-string tops or pants with words across the butt are not to be found upon my daughter, and when the occasional questionable outfit slips through in gift form, we immediately talk about where it can and can’t be worn.)
So, yeah, it’s just as well that we didn’t find ourselves at Storyland again this year. Probably saves me a trip to the dentist, what with all the jaw-grinding.
Madhouse Wednesday, with some combination of the usual suspects playing along: