Did you know that Disney World has banned children under the age of 14 from entering the park alone? This obviously doesn’t mean that they cannot be without an adult once they have entered the park, but does stop kids from being admitted alone. It’s clear the park doesn’t want children of younger ages to be wandering around by themselves, and I wonder why.
You know, it’s funny; I stepped away from this post for just over 24 hours, and I have a completely different outlook on the situation now. So here’s the deal:
Yesterday the school took the Freshman to an amusement park to record Physics data from rollercoasters. Sounds great right? Well, wrong. Being one of the science educators as well as a Freshman advisor, I was nominated as one of the lovely chaperones. I hate that word, chaperones. Ick.
Anyway, I don’t ride crazy, whipping, fast rides as it is. I used to love the idea of an amusement park as a kid, but I quickly found that every fast spinning ride and rollercoaster made me feel instantly sick to the point that I spent the rest of the day feeling ill after a single ride. I’ve come to learn that amusements parks just aren’t worth my time and money. But this wasn’t my money or my choice, so I had to go….
Yesterday also happened to be the day we had some lovely thunderstorms. It also happens that the park we went to floods fairly quickly. At first I was confused as to why the rides were shutting down almost an hour before the storm was supposed to hit. Then I realized that they were encouraging people to leave the park so that they could be safe from the deluge of water that would soon be soaking my feet as well as every other part of my body.
(As a side note, I feel it important to thank the security men for saying that there was a leak in the female AND male bathroom all at exactly the same time as the storm arrived.) Turns out our only source of shelter was the bathroom that the park closed down, so we ended up stuck outside during the torrential downpour. That lightning was fierce too! I keep wondering how many people would get electrocuted if the lightning had hit down in one of the pathways. My entire group would surely have been zapped. (And for the record, the water was up past my ankles by the time it even thought about slowing down. Additionally, as I walked from one rain soaked area to another within the park, I had mulch sticking to my legs the whole way up to my knees due to the high levels of water that were carrying the flower beds away with them.)
The point of this post was originally to complain because people would not listen to me. Multiple groups of children as well as individual children went behind my back and left their chaperone without any prior warning or without any idea as to where the kids were located during the storm. I, quite honestly, was freaking out. I know for a fact that some of those kids would have found it fun to play outside in the puddles and get soaked rather than to take shelter. I just had to sit there in my little bundle of girls and pray that none of them had been stupid enough to follow through with the ideas that they can think of as fun.
I tried to tell the other chaperones that we should stick with the kids until the storm ended. Four out of the five of us were honestly in agreement. The other said that they agreed and then did the opposite behind everyone’s backs. We ended up with at least seven kids who were off on their own during the storm.
Before anyone reading this starts to get worried, we did survive the debacle without so much as a scratch. We had a lot of soaked, smelly shoes at the end of the day, but that was about the worst of it. Thank God. I was so frustrated and angry all day yesterday and into today as well. It pissed me off that we weren’t all on the same page and that we showed two different “faces” to the kids. Let’s face it; if you give kids two different options, they are going to pick the one that helps them out the most or seems like the most fun. Needless to say, no one was going to be happy with me when they heard that others were allowed to wander around the park willy nilly.
Then I went to hang out with my boyfriend tonight. We got some food and took my puppy to a dog park. There were so many people there because the weather was SO nice! As a big chocolate lab started slobbering all over my baby, I immediately picked him up and tried to rescue him from the gross slime. It was at that point that I first realized what I am about to tell you now. I was also reaffirmed of this thought as I was sitting with my boyfriend on a park bench watching Jasper interact with the other dogs.
And the thought is this: I may have been on field trips before, I may have been teaching for the past two years of my life, and I may also be a very young adult. But yesterday was my first trip to do something purely fun with the kids. I knew they would take advantage of every bit that they could get. They were also left to wander free, whereas other field trips required at least 70% structured supervision. And we were always in one single building rather than spread across an entire park! My conclusion was that I am very much maternal in some ways. I am super protective of my younger sister when someone tries to back her into an unwanted corner. I am the first person to pick up their dog if any single animal starts growling or barking at the dog park. I am the one who wanted to stay home this week to take care of my boyfriend while he dealt with muscle problems in his back. And I am the one who wanted so much to push the issue of chaperones at the amusement park…. because if anything had happened to any of the children that I love and that have changed my life in such a positive way, I would never forgive myself for having been on another side of the park enjoying myself with rides and games and whatever else I could get into.
Now that I realize this, I plan to have a nice talk with the kids tomorrow. I know they are mad at me (they said as much today), but I want to try to make them understand that I was honestly just trying to do what was best for them and may have held them a little too close.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m still mad that the adults were on two different pages and that one single person disregarded what a whole bunch of other adults had to say, but who am I kidding? There’s always one rebel in a group, and there’s no way that I’ll ever let this one bring me so far down that I tattle on him like a two year old.