There was no more fun to be had. Not for us anyway. The Dippin’ Dots buzz that had sustained us for the last hour had officially melted away.
Attention guests. The park is now closed. Please proceed to the nearest exit. We hope you enjoyed…
With the rest of the lemmings, we trudged past the rides and midway games as they closed up shop – some guarded by stern-faced college kids who wished they could hitch a ride to the employee parking lot on the back of someone’s overloaded stroller.
It was me and the two younger ones. My husband Scott was off with 7-year-old Sam exploring the undiscovered big-kid territories while we took in the KidZville classics. At three-and-a-half, Lindsey was fully capable of powering herself over the asphalt; admirably, she kept calm and carried on. At five, Robin’s take on things was slightly different. She knew there were options. “Can we get one of those really big strollers?” she asked. And then, “Look, they have a wagon!” she politely pointed out.
But we had decided early on that if we were going to be a theme park family, our kids would have to make it on their own two legs. Truth be told, they had been walking without incident for quite a while now. And they were all very good at it. Every so often, one of them (usually Lindsey) could end up on Daddy’s shoulders for a very brief ride, but that was the extent of it.
“Not much longer. We’re almost there. We can do it.” I muttered the catch phrases from my exit strategy playbook. Eyes on the prize: In a matter of minutes we would reunite with Scott and Sam at the gate, head to the van, buckle little ones into boosters, then motor down I-95 toward home listening to the sweet sounds of small girls snoring through stuffy summer noses.
“Heeeeey, why do they get two daddies?” It was Lindsey’s question that jolted me back to reality.
She pointed to twins, about her age, passing us on the right, riding high on their fathers’ shoulders. Before I even glanced their way, it struck me as interesting that Lindsey had decided this was a two-daddy family. After all, not every pair of guys walking together is a couple. But this one was. The pint-sized passengers giggled from above as their parents walked hand in hand – briskly, no less. Not only were we completely devoid of Daddies, but we were proceeding at the polar opposite of brisk.
“Just lucky, I guess,” I responded.
On the way home I pondered events from earlier in the month. At a meeting, I had listened to a man bluster from the end of a conference table about how he wouldn’t allow his son to have playdates with a neighbor boy who had two moms. He liked the kid, he had announced, and the women were just fine, but he didn’t want to have to explain to his son why this neighbor kid had two mothers. “It was just weird,” he concluded. And everyone seated near him was quiet. And one woman nodded.
I know I spent the next few days thinking I should have said something to that man. I could have told him about the kid on Robin’s team with two soccer moms. I could have told him about the girl in Lindsey’s class who needed an extra chair at the table on donuts-for-dad day. Or the family we know from church with the dad who’s transgender.
But I didn’t.
Now I know that nothing an adult said would have opened that man’s mind. But perhaps his own children can help him see things a little differently. After all, it wasn’t until my preschooler had no qualms speaking up about the lucky kids atop the twin-tower daddies that I stopped chiding myself for staying quiet that day at the office.
It seems the older I get, the more I’ve come to appreciate a child’s view of the world. Once again, my little one got it right: From where those twins were sitting, life looked pretty good.