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Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The Parent Club

     I interrupt this session of writing to get some anger off my chest. See, it’s been festering since August 12, which is the day I went to Cedar Point with my family. We joined a few other families there. It was actually a Girl Scouting activity. The troop covered the day-trip with the proceeds from their cookie money. We walked around, stood in line, rode rides and eventually drifted away from the others in our group. That was okay; the Scouts plugged this as an individual family event. It was a good time….until my three kids, my husband and I decided to go—not on the Dragster or the Raptor or the Gatekeeper—but….to THE PARKING LOT…Dunh-Dunh-Dunh…togetourjackets. (I’m trying to make this more dramatic as a build-up to the cause of my anger.)

     On our way out (and let me emphasize that we were walking neither slower nor faster than any of the other people around. There was nothing to distinguish us from any of the families who accompanied us on our mission to have fun. We were, in all fairness, spread out, five of us across the Cedar Point promenade, which is about fifty people wide. Ten times our number, mind you.), I heard my son yelp. He’s a quiet dude, so I knew something substantial must’ve happened to wrench a sound from him. I looked past my two daughters in time to see the back of the stroller that had just plowed into his Achilles tendon and onward. It was one of those jogging things with the gargantuan front wheel, propelled by a thirty-something male household head and his tittering blonde wife, or significant other. As we ate their dust (because they must’ve been running the Cedar Point Marathon for cancer, which I was unaware was going on. Oh wait! It wasn’t!), I could see that they had two kids in the stroller, a boy and a girl who looked roughly nine and eleven respectively. They seemed old enough to walk and had no discernible physical disabilities barring them from doing so. Not that it was any of my business, until they MOWED DOWN MY SON. He is seven, by the way, and has the misfortune of being the youngest in our brood. We were kind of sick of lugging strollers around by the time he showed up, so he’s had to foot it since about the age of five. Which is a shame, because A STROLLER HAS MYTHICAL PROPERTIES. NO HARM CAN BEFALL ONE IN A STROLLER. 
     Until it takes you out. I nudged my husband and exclaimed, “They just hit Cameron with their stroller!” I spoke loud enough for the wife to look back. She gave us—not an apology or an expression of concern—but a smug, I’m-gonna-beat-you-to-the-main-gate smile. (Granted, below is more of a grimace. But this mom's got the smile down pat.)
     I went over to my son and asked if he was okay, as the repugnant family put yards between us on their all-consuming quest to leave Cedar Point. My son told me he was fine, but that they’d been bumping him consistently with the wheel of the stroller. Alleged grown-ups. Sadists, more like. Can you believe it? Now, I’ve seen childish behavior from the older set many a time. But with parents, one can usually count on some sense of decency, resulting from the fact that we are all guardians of the future. (We are, don’t laugh.) “Why didn’t you tell me?” I demanded. He shrugged. “Why didn’t you move?” sneered my ten-year-old (No doubt a future bowler-over-of children in the making). I set her straight. He didn’t have to move! That family could’ve easily gone around us if the parents thought we were too slow. It would’ve still been obnoxious, because I imagine they’d have done it with that same smug smile, the one that says: we’re so much better than you. See? We walk faster. We are expert walkers. (As a rule, I walk pretty fast too, but I was on vacation) Such a measure would’ve been preferable to running our son down. It launched me on a tirade that gave the term amusement park a whole new meaning. Cedar Point’s parking lot became another source of amusement for my family as they listened to the ways I would retaliate if I ever saw that couple again. How dare they run into my lovely son while shoving their disgusting, slovenly children in a stroller? What was the big, goddamned hurry? I mean, how can you be in a rush AT A FREAKING AMUSEMENT PARK???? And if by some chance they were hurtling to the nearest hospital to meet a parent who they’d just heard had gone ill, why didn’t they say, “I’m sorry I bumped you, sweetie. We’re in a hurry because my mom or dad or aunt or grandma or (insert beloved relative here) is sick.” No, they were like:
      See ya! Wouldn't want to be ya! That is not okay! So maybe Cameron was falling a little behind. This isn’t the Serengeti, people. Weak, old, young, slow stragglers shouldn’t have to worry about being pegged off by the jogging-stroller-owner at the top of the food chain. (And since when does jogging stroller possession belie someone at the top of the food chain? Such fitness-minded humans should be counting calories, in my view, and the one they granted me of their asses confirms this.) I hereby officially kick those two dorks out of the Parent Club. Because parents (sometimes even shitty ones) protect children, theirs and those that belong to other parents. They don’t run them down and glory in the thrill of conquest. PLUS, just so you know, jogging-stroller-family, after the downpour (it came while we were in our car getting the jackets—we couldn’t have timed it better, really), they re-opened all the rides and we got on them about ten more times. You think you’re so smart for getting out before everyone else…but we got far more for our money. Let that be a lesson to those of us who are always engaged in some strange, never-ending race to God knows where (I mean, why would people hurry to their deaths?) ATTN: Thirty-something Couple I’ve Excommunicated from Parenthood: You’re too old to be acting that way. I feel sorry for the people who are forced to interact with you every day, since I could barely handle our fleeting association. Feel free to re-apply to the Parent Club when you grow up. I leave you with my son, who is fully recuperated and back to taking his own sweet time at fairs, amusement parks and such.


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