Last weekend, after months of discussing Six Flags Theme Park and watching videos of real-time roller coaster riders, my husband and I took our three young kiddos; ages 8, 6, and 3 for the experience of their lives.
The day was honestly fabulous.
The weather was perfect, it wasn’t too crowded, the lines were relatively short, and for the most part, the kids were game for pretty much any and everything they could get on.
Now, prior to going, I mentioned to my kids the incredible (and oh so healthy), funnel cake sundaes I remembered having there over 20 years ago when I’d go with my family and friends, and for whatever reason, this got stuck in their heads as something that just HAD to happen while we were there.
After about 7 hours at the theme park…
YES, long day indeed…
The kids and I hopped off our last roller coaster and headed to meet my youngest and their dad.
As I knew they would, my 8 and 6 year old reminded me of the legendary funnel cake.
I told the kids IF we came across a funnel cake window, I’d stop… but only IF.
Well, of course we did.
Now, to my surprise, this funnel cake line was quickly becoming our longest line of the day, and… we were keeping my husband and smallest waiting.
After informing my kids we’d wait five more minutes, the line didn’t move.
I apologized, assured them we’d get one another time, and we continued on our way.
Well, if you have kids in your life… you can imagine how this went.
Immediately, my son went into super funk mode.
I’m pretty sure he was tearing up, and wouldn’t look at me.
He kept saying, “I guess we’ll never get one ever, then.”…
And just to be clear, this is a way he tends to deal with disappointment.
He wouldn’t talk much on the way home, he continually mentioned not getting funnel cake, and when asked about the day, he just kinda hemmed and hawed.
As I tucked him in that night, and asked…
“So what do you think? Did we have a fun day!?”
“Well, we didn’t get funnel cake. And that kinda ruined the entire day.”
I’ll let you take a breath for a second, I know I had to.
I told him I was sorry to hear that, gave him a kiss, and left the room.
Now, I am human…
My initial thoughts were…
Are you KIDDING me!? After planning, hours of driving, lots of $$$, and over 7 hours of walking and riding, your beloved Six Flags experience has been ruined because you didn’t get a fried ice cream treat!?
I breathed, I prayed, and I thought.
Almost instantly, I was reminded of how typical this is for us adults.
We can have the most PERFECT day, but if one thing doesn’t happen, one negative comment is spoke, or one unfortunate situation occurs, THAT is where our focus goes, and our entire day is ruined.
Realizing that… something I myself have been guilty of many a time…
I had to ask myself why in the world I’d expect my 8 year old kiddo to handle the situation any differently?
Now, I could have responded in the moment.
I could have pointed out all we did and how lucky he is…
I could have said he should stop this and be more grateful.
But I refrained, because that would have just made the situation even worse, AND… when we do that as parents, we’re basically telling our kids their feelings are no good, and they shouldn’t feel that way.
No one can be told how to feel.
It’s SO crucial that from a young age, we allow our kids to FEEL what they are feeling, and validate them.
Scientifically, it has been suggested that kids who are allowed to feel things like sadness, depression, anger, and disappointment have fewer mood disorders than those who are encouraged to suppress those feelings and put on a happy face.
Makes sense to me.
This is also a great opportunity for kids to learn that yeah, sometimes things don’t go as planned, and they DO feel bad, and that’s OKAY.
What a great opportunity for an open discussion on all the things that did go well.
Now, I’m happy to report that as the days have moved on, we have talked LOADS about all the amazing rides we rode, my son pointed out the theme park was better than his Nintendo Switch (wha?!) , AND… he’s only mentioned funnel cake ONCE in 4 days.
In the moment, the lack of funnel cake ruined his day…
But it is clear that by reminiscing about all the big coasters he was able to ride…
The experience overall was a POSITIVE one that he’ll remember for life.