“I don’t want to go,” he said. He folded his arms over his chest in the most defiant manner he could muster and pouted at her.
“Ok, you don’t have to,” she smiled at him. The light in her eyes made the smile spread across her face.
“I’m going!” he said, stomping his foot and turning forward. He stood there perfectly still for a moment and watched the tall girl in front of him play with her ponytail.
The sun beat down on them as they waited and the smell of cotton candy and fried food made his thoughts wander. She had packed them healthy turkey sandwiches and carrot sticks for lunch and he hated her for being so organized. If she had just forgotten the cooler bag along with her sunglasses he could be eating french fries and pizza by now.
The screams of people plummeting several stories startled him and his eyes shot towards the chaos. His breath caught in his throat as he watched the coaster dive down the track and then shoot back up into the sky towards an impossibly large loop.
“Mom!” He turned to face her again and arched his eyebrows at her.
“Sweetie, we really don’t have to go if you don’t want to. We can just ride the carousel or go play in the fountain.”
“The carousel is for babies! Besides, I’m too tall for it!”
“Oh, Jacob- you’re never too tall for the carousel! You know that's me and your dad’s favorite ride.”
“You guys are old,” he laughed.
“Thanks, Bud.” She rolled her eyes at him. “Listen, just because you’re tall enough to ride doesn’t mean you have to. It’s not going anywhere- we can go walk around the park and come back later if you want,”she said, giving his shoulders a squeeze.
“No, we have to go now!” he pulled himself out of her grasp and nearly collided with the girl in front of him. He caught himself on one foot then threw his weight back and landed against her belly.
She steadied him with a firm grasp and kept her hands on his shoulders until he started squirming. As the line moved forward the railing separating the flat yard from the ramp approached them.
“We better make a final decision here…”
“We’re going!” His voice broke through the chatter around them and a few heads turned to look at the source of the ruckus.
As they approached the platform he reacted like someone had turned him on turbo; hoping up onto the railing and climbing across, jumping down and hoping onto the next, looking and listening and straining like a racehorse in the pen. She couldn’t help but grin as she watched him.
Finally, they were standing on the platform waiting for their car to arrive. She leaned over him and whispered “You ready?”
He nodded, breathless and wide-eyed, and stepped forward as the seats opened in front of them.