Last fall, my husband and I spent our hard-earned vacation time at a couple of popular amusement parks, taking in shows, attractions, foods and beverages not on our usual healthy meal plans, and rides. Due to an old injury (I’m fine), I couldn’t go on any of the tossing and twisting, dropping and diving, violently fun thrill rides, and I was okay with that. I enjoyed people-watching and reading a good book while my husband took advantage of my pass to experience all those rides twice then come back and give me a play-by-play.
After one such ride, he all but sprinted back to me. “I’ve found a ride for you!”
As he led me across the park to the place he had spotted, he gushed, “It looks perfect for you! It’s like riding a giant swing. It sways slowly as you ride over the park and take in all the amazing views, and I know you are going to love it!”
My anticipation and excitement grew as we waited patiently in the long line alongside families with young children. And then it all came to a screeching, sickening halt. For at the boarding site there was a huge sign that proclaimed:
I’m sorry: What?!
“I HATE this fudging place!” (Um, okay, I didn’t say fudging. It was not my finest moment.)
My husband trailed behind me as I stomped off. “Maybe you could borrow a kid?” he suggested, his own disappointment on my behalf evident in his tone. I gave him a glare that could melt a glacier, and I swear some of those parents in line pulled their children closer.
Even as I write this, months after it happened, my blood continues to boil. Why wasn’t I allowed on this ride? Why couldn’t I have had just a few minutes of childlike glee? Why must so many fun things be the exclusive right of kids and their parents? Why me?!?
I don’t have answers—or I don’t have answers that fully satisfy me. I am certain that the slights we childless women endure are not all intentional, while I am also certain that they feel like they come in wave after crashing wave.
I want to give you a happy or encouraging ending, or some wise insight, but I don’t have it in me. I still had a good vacation. I enjoyed the playtime with my husband, I enjoyed many of the other experiences the parks had to offer. But the slight still hurts, and it makes me want to hit someone, specifically the doofus who came up with the “must be accompanied by a child” rule.
Kathleen Guthrie Woods is occasionally not at all at peace with her childlessness.