An hour into “Boys’ Day,” Joan was reconsidering whether bringing her three grandsons to an amusement park was such a hot idea. The 11- and 12-year-olds were having a blast. They’d run off together as soon as they could, racing for the mega-roller coasters that 6-year-old Jeremy was neither brave enough, nor tall enough to ride. Instead, he was abandoned to the company of his grandmother, who was determined to make sure that Jeremy had as much fun as they did, no matter the personal sacrifice to her own enjoyment of the day.
“Can we ride this, Grandma?” Jeremy asked as they passed in front of the Scrambler.
Joan pasted on a smile and bit her lip. She knew the ride would wreak havoc with her back, but it was one of the few rides that Jeremy could go on outside of Kiddie Land. “You sure you want to? It looks like it’s going pretty fast.”
Jeremy nodded and tugged her toward the line. They watched the passengers before them spin toward them and then whip away. There were a few squeals of excitement and one or two from people who sounded scared. Joan watched her grandson’s face, trying to gage whether this ride might be too grown-up for him. Though his eyes grew wide as he watched the heads and arms of children flail in their seats, he eagerly pulled his grandmother along and ran to an empty car once they passed through the gate.
The attendant strapped them in, pulling their seatbelts firmly across their laps and then fastened the pin lock into place. Joan and Jeremy grinned at each other and then the motor began to whir into action. Jeremy gripped the handle bar tightly, his round eyes saucers of excitement. Joan held on, too, hoping to hold herself in place so that the motion didn’t jar her back too severely.
The ride picked up speed, slamming Jeremy into his grandmother with each criss-crossing pattern. He giggled and yelled as Joan grimaced with the force of his small body ramming her in the side. Who knew how bony and sharp one little body could be.
As the ride slowly wound to a stop, Joan let out a sigh of relief. It hadn’t hurt too badly, though her stomach was a little unsettled. Sharing Dippin' Dots with Jeremy beforehand might not have been a good idea. Still, she’d survived it and the smile on Jeremy’s face made her minor discomforts worth it.
The teenaged attendant came to their car and released the lock. They struggled forward to step down from the ride and dizzily searched for the exit sign. Jeremy spotted it and grabbed his grandmother’s hand, ready to run as fast as his little six-year-old legs could carry him.
Joan braced herself. She knew what was about to come next. Jeremy pulled her along, his body quivering with anticipation.
“Let’s ride it again!”