It was a sunny Sunday, and the whole family was giddy with excitement as we prepped ourselves and piled into the car to head to our local amusement park. This was a gift to our newly 4-year-old daughter and she had been looking forward to it for weeks!
The day started off as wonderfully as expected; we saw a dolphin show and fed real-life giraffes. I’m still not sure how I feel about either of those things, but our daughter had fun and we discussed how the animals were rescued and couldn’t survive in the wild so I guess their captivity is okay? Anyway, that’s a debate for another day. My point here is that our day started off great.
But then, if you couldn’t already sense it, our day took an undesirable turn. As we joined the line for a kiddie roller coaster, I noticed a solo adult standing in line in front of us. Normally the existence of other adults doesn’t worry me, but adults that are waiting alone in line for a children’s ride can only mean one thing: they’re going to be joined by some unknown number of riders right before it’s finally our turn to ride this freaking ride.
I silently held out hope that only one or two little ones would be joining this woman. But, after 30+ minutes of my 4-year-old patiently waiting and, of course, becoming new best friends with the 6-year-olds in line behind us, it happened. EIGHT people, one adult, and seven children, pushed their way through the line and rolled up right next to the woman who had been “saving their spots.”
Having one or two people join you in line at the very last second deserves an eye roll and audible sigh of annoyance. But eight?! No. We had to say something, and we did. I got a little extra and rallied the troops in line behind us, all of whom agreed that this kind of behavior was appalling. When it appeared that these line-skippers would not be swayed, my husband even pulled the “What lesson are you trying to teach these kids by doing this?” card.
I’m not proud of it, but I called them out to the ride operator as they were about to board. This is what finally shamed them enough to hang their heads low as they made their way OUT of the line past all of the disapproving faces. I know people pull this kind of shit all the time (especially at large amusement parks that start with “Dis” and end with “ney”), but can we all just agree to not do this anymore?
I get it, waiting in line sucks, especially for kids. But, like my husband asked, what lesson are our kids learning from all of this? How do you think all of the other kids who waited it out feel when they see these kids happily pushing their way past them to get to the front of a line they didn’t wait in? Shouldn’t the ride be a reward for waiting so long?
There are so many questions I could ask regarding this behavior. What behaviors we choose to model in front of our children, the lessons we choose to teach them, are all very personal. I get that. But, for the general enjoyment of everyone spending the day at an amusement park, can we all just get on board and agree to cease this particular behavior?
Let your child be bored. Come up with games to play while you’re waiting in line. Watch your kids make new best friends or “line buddies.” Or — gasp! — let them play on your phone or watch a video! I think screen time is totally justified in these situations, but that’s another debate for another day.
Whatever battle against boredom you choose, please don’t make these seemingly unending lines any longer for the rest of us. Wait your turn!