Hugs and Roller Coasters

The Next Family

By: Joey Uva

Two weeks ago Trevor and I took Grace and our nephew Carter to Legoland California. This was going to be a new experience for all of us since we have never been. Trevor and I were very excited to take Grace and Carter as they are extremely close and very fond of each other.

Let’s first start with Carter, who is a year and a half younger than Grace. Carter is a fearless little guy who will ride his bike off jumps, has a scooter that he rides with no worries, and does all these crazy amazing tricks. If he falls, he gets right back up and keeps on trucking. The one thing Carter hasn’t done is be away from mom and dad for a full day; that’s a little different than riding a bike or scooter. When I called Carter’s mom and dad with the request for Trevor, Grace and me to take Carter with us, they were a little nervous. I completely understood their concern, as Carter would not have access to mom or dad; it was his uncles he would have to rely on. I was honored when they agreed to let Carter go with us, and they said Carter was very excited about it.

The next hurdle was to see how Grace would be with all the rides. She has never been on a roller coaster, and as a father I was a little concerned she might be frightened. I filed that thought in the front of my mind so I could keep an eye on her reactions and remind myself –let her be her, if she doesn’t want to go on something, that’s her choice. I have never believed in pushing her to do something she is not ready for.

Trevor and I packed lunches, put everything in the car and headed to pick up Carter. We picked up Carter, his stuff, and the packed lunch his mom made him. We were off to Legoland for the day. We arrived at Legoland where we entered this amazing theme park specifically geared towards four, five and six year olds. They were everywhere. Our first item on the agenda was to eat lunch before we got going; it was almost noon already. As we sat down to eat lunch, my thought was “well, let’s see how this goes” since Carter tends to be picky about eating. I simply said, “we can get started on the rides as soon as we finish all our lunch.” Well, Carter was all up for that. Lunch was something he could clearly accomplish without issue if he knew rides would come after. This was indeed a great start. After lunch and a quick covering of sunscreen, we were off.

The first ride was the “Wave Racer”. We stood in line but as we got up to the front, Grace said, “Papa, I don’t want to go.” I was worried she was scared but she wasn’t as she followed it with, “you can get wet on this ride and I’m not ready to get wet.” She wasn’t scared, she just didn’t want to get wet and really neither did I but I would have for her. Our second ride of the day was a jeep ride with laser guns where we could point and hit lost treasures; it was fun and a good start before hitting the first roller coaster. Our third ride was the “Mystic Tower”. We sat all four of us in row where we were lifted up on this tower, we dropped, stopped, and bounced and dropped some more. It was fun and hearing Grace and Carter laugh made me laugh. I nicknamed this ride “The Tummy Tickler” because that is what it did. The name stuck with Grace and she even mentioned it later as one of her favorites.

Finally, here it was our first roller coaster: “The Dragon”. Grace loves dragons. The line was pretty long but we waited. Carter kept running up to Grace and giving her hugs; it was very cute. When they were not hugging they were trying to climb or hang upside-down on the bar. As we got to the front of the line and into the castle where it got darker, Carter started to get scared. Trevor and I reassured him all would be alright as this little guy is not scared of much but I guess his first roller coaster just might do the trick. Grace looked over at Carter and said: “Carter, it’s only a dragon and it will be fun!” Grace was not scared and that thought I had filed in the front of my mind was no longer needed. As we got on the roller coaster, sat down and started moving, I could tell Grace was excited. The roller coaster did its little “tick”, “tick, “tick” to the highest point where Grace then turned her head back at Carter and screamed over the sound of the roller coaster; “See Carter! This is fun!” Trevor and I smiled. All was good and Carter was on board with the fun once we started on the downhill.

The fun and hugging continued. We returned Carter safely to mom and dad in the early evening where he shared his experiences of the day. I spoke to Carter’s mom just yesterday and she says even two weeks later, Carter continues to look at the Legoland map and point out all the rides he and Grace went on. It was a great day filled with hugs and roller coasters.

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