Oklahoma City family fun is full of possibilities.
"You're not having fun unless you're a little bit scared," my Dad used to say when I was a child, cautious and serious-natured for my age. I thought about those words as I stared down from the Silver Bullet roller coaster ride at Frontier City this past Saturday. Sam, age 8, chose to visit the amusement park on Halloween as his mom-and-son activity.
I had made a hasty promise while pregnant with Gabriel, now 9 months, that I would ride the roller coaster with Sam later, after the baby was born. Much later. It felt like a far-off possibility that surely wouldn't materialize. Sam wouldn't remember more than a year later what I had said I'd do. There was no way I'd ride that roller coaster.
Except he did remember and I was going to have to fulfill the promise.
The wind whistled as we climbed up what felt like an eternity of steps. I started to hold my breath but then thought better of it because passing out as the sole responsible party for a child at an amusement park wouldn't be good and falling back down all those steps seemed like a real possibility. My feet began to tingle in an odd way that brought back memories of the high dive in summer, filled with an electric kind of danger.
The roller coaster looked long and high, the way roller coasters are supposed to, with a loop guaranteed to turn riders upside down and right side up again on its painted track.
"Mom, do you want to do this with me?" Sam asked. He dropped his winter hat onto the red metal seat of the roller coaster carriage, oblivious to the fact that anything dropped while looking down has a way of making your stomach turn if you're already afraid of heights.
"Mhem, yes. Absolutely," I lied. "We're going to do this."
"You're scared, aren't you? Why? Is it because you watch the news a lot?" he guessed. I nodded.
Yes, I was scared. The news might have something to do with it. Probably. Possibly. It was, however, a fear much different than the very adult worries that more often fill my mind. Fear, from fevers to foreclosures, is part of what keeps us all moving forward, looking out for what's best.
The good, the bad, the unknown: life as a parent has so many aspects, often fraught with anxiety about what will happen, how and when.
"Don't worry, mom. I'll be brave for both of us," Sam assured me with all the confidence of a third-grader.
The whoosh of the roller coaster made any real-life worries seem far away, eclipsed by the very immediate fear of plummeting down a hill on a metal cart.
I closed my eyes and a scream turned into a laugh.
There's enough to worry about as a mom but sometimes, you just have to ride a roller coaster with your son.
As we look toward the love of family that surrounds Thanksgiving, the faith that fills Christmas and the hope of a new year, joy abounds and there is nothing wrong with that. The contrast with Halloween, though, this year in particular, will make for a great memory. That too is what we have to hold onto as parents, even if we do grip roller coaster rails now and then.
If you're looking for a new activity or just want to create some family memories, visit MetroFamily's calendar for the best local events in Oklahoma City.