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Thrilling to them - but scary to me
My eldest daughter is a thrill-seeker. On a visit to Flamingoland she couldn’t get enough of the most terrifying rides, confessing after she’d ridden each about three times that she wanted more. “I love it,” she said, “Can I go skydiving for my 16th birthday?”
This isn’t what a parent, who has spent years caring for a child, watching their every move to prevent them coming to harm, wants to hear. Her younger sister is more hesitant, but heading in the same direction.
Standing watching thm getting harnessed up for rides that hurtle skywards, twisting and turning at such a pace that you can't capture it on film, my heart was in my mouth.
Yet I was like that at their age, eager to go higher and faster. I remember a day trip to Blackpool when I dragged my dad on a log flume. He clung on for dear life and refused to take me on other rides. They weren’t half as high or fast in those days, which is just as well because you’d be strapped in with a rickety bar or ill-fitting seat belt — but had there been awe-inspiring roller coasters that twisted 360 degrees or giant metal cradles that rocked you half way to the moon, I’d have been first in the queue.
Now I’m the one who, like my mum when we were kids, stays on the ground and shakes her head in disbelief.
As I watched younger children pootling around a model village in pint-sized cars, it seemed only like yesterday since mine were being held tight inside revolving tea cups or grinning at me from cartoon character roundabouts.
How did those sweet little tots who ran excitedly to board a coin-operated Thomas the Tank engine end up sitting on the front of a line of motorcycles that shoot off at the speed of light. And why do they all have to raise their arms? “Cling on! for goodness sake!” I want to scream.
At seven, my nephew is on the cusp of change. He’s one of the in-betweeners, too old for mini roundabouts, too young — and, crucially, too small — for the bigger ones. You see the desperation in his face — mentally he’s in those futuristic-looking harnesses already.
His mum — my sister — at five years younger than me, has clung on to her thrill-seeking youth. She’s bungee jumped over canyons, and abseiled down sheer cliffs, so isn’t fazed by theme park rides. She went on everything.
“Mum, why aren’t you like auntie Jill?” my daughters asked.
It’s said that nowadays OAPs are the new thrill-seekers. This may be just a phase — give it another decade and I might be zooming down Blackpool’s Big One with my arms outstretched.
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