I like to feel as if I am in control of things, and when I don't feel that, I get very scared.
Take our honeymoon, for instance. We were traveling across the United States on a road trip, stopping at various attractions and enjoying our time together. In California, we visited Universal Studios. I willingly went on every roller coaster and ride because in my (warped) mind those were carefully crafted machines and the operator had full control of what was going on. Then we came across a Van Helsing exhibit, which the Nerd thought would be a lot of fun. I was skeptical, having never seen the movie and certainly not interested in doing so, but I figured it would be like any other ride in the park. As we got to the front of the line, I realized that this was not a ride. It was a walk-through haunted house of sorts. Terrified, I looked for a way to escape but it was too late. It was our turn to enter the ride. I am surprised that I didn't leave scars in the Nerd's arm considering the way I gripped it like a lethal vise. I screamed and cried every time any thing or anybody jumped out at us or moved. Poor Nerd moved us through that house as fast as he could drag me. By the time we reached the end, I was shaking and crying, and no amount of Shrek, Spongebob, or any other cute fun stuff could erase that horrible, out-of-control experience from my mind for the rest of the day. (By the way, I am so grateful for a man that did and said all the right things even though he could not comprehend my irrational feelings and behavior.)
So this past Saturday the Nerd took the family to Mt. Hood Ski Bowl for his company picnic. We all received park passes as part of the picnic perks (wow, was that a lot of p's or what?). After thoroughly covering the kids with sunscreen and making the mandatory restroom visit before going through the park, the Nerd and I examined the map to see what would be appropriate for the kids. We quickly realized that all the little-kid-friendly stuff was at the opposite end of the park, and the Nerd concluded that the only way up there was the chair lift. I stared at the very long and very steep chair lift. Was there another way to drive up there? Could we possibly hike up to the top? Was there anything we could do to avoid the chair lift? No, apparently the Nerd felt that we should use the chair lift. That same stupid panicky feeling started to rise up in me, but I tried to squelch it when I saw the excitement on the kids' faces. Logistically though, it was going to be a nightmare. The chair lift was just two chairs across, and there were five of us. We decided that the Drama Queen would go with me and that the Nerd would take the two boys, holding the Spud on his lap. As we waited in line, I started thinking about the Beast. How would our autistic child, who can't even handle being on a playground swing, handle this? What if he had a meltdown or panic attack right when we were forty feet about the ground? I needed some reassurance here. "There are seat belts on these things, right?" I asked, sure of the answer because of course the sign wouldn't say Ages Three and Up if there weren't. (I know - stupid question people but I have never been skiing in my life and really had no idea). The Nerd looked at me as if I had grown an extra head and shook his head. "No, there's just a bar. We have to be able to jump off quickly at the end, you know." A growing terror rose up inside me. All sorts of visions of the Beast freaking out and then falling out of the chair lift invaded my mind. By the time we got up to the chair lift, I was a basket case. I was trying desperately not to show it in order not to frighten the kids. The Drama Queen looked up at me. "Will you hold my hand, Mom? I'm a little scared." I reassured her that there was nothing to be scared of (hypocrite!) and together we boarded the chair lift. Immediately the Drama Queen relaxed and leaned forward to get a better view of the scenery. I grabbed her arm and held tight, trying to relax. Next to Van Helsing, it was the most terrifying experience of my life. I just knew she would slip and fall at any second. Behind me, the Nerd gripped the Spud with one hand and held onto the Beast with the other but looked like he was enjoying the experience. We finally got to the drop off and got off. My legs were shaking, but I was so relieved to be off that lift. Then the Nerd realized that we had made a mistake in our map reading. We were not at the right place! He went over to talk to the chair lift attendant and discovered that we had not had to be on the chair lift in the first place! Apparently there was a shuttle that takes park visitors to the other end of the park. Now we had to get back on the chair lift, go all the way up to the top, and then come all the way back down to get on the shuttle to the other end of the park. The Drama Queen was thrilled that we "got" to get back on, but her momma surely wasn't! I spent the whole ride babbling about anything and everything to keep my mind off the fact that any of our kids could plummet to the ground at any second.
We finally got off the lift at the bottom of the mountain. I was never so glad to see firm ground in my life. As we walked toward the picnic area, the Nerd said to me, "Okay, that pretty much tops my list of most stressful things I have ever done in my life. Never again will I take a three-year-old and an autistic four-year-old on a chair lift by myself!" Ha! It wasn't just me then.
I have to say though that all three kids were stellar chair lift riders - they sat still and didn't whine, cry, or try to climb on the lift.
Still. It hasn't cured me, you know. When it comes to those situations, I will always be a scaredy cat. (That night I had a reoccurring nightmare that the Beast had fallen from the chair lift).
Yeah. Now you know.