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With the scent of hot asphalt invading our senses, the three of us traipsed through the oceanic parking lot. We were already bathed in sunscreen and nervous energy, moving closer and closer to the whooshes of the rides teasing the perimeter of Six Flags over Georgia.

One monster coaster loomed directly next to the entrance gate, the cleanly executed loop-de-loop in direct counterpoint to the heavy metal roar and terrorized screams radiating from it.  I looked down at the small head of brown hair beside me and said, “Cool, huh?”.  When he looked up, those eyes did me in. They always do.  They are unmistakably his father’s eyes.

I’m used to seeing things in those eyes: Wisdom well beyond his eight years. Wheels turning as he invents new mischief.  Sparkly twinkles when he’s laughing (which is often).  Excitement for new adventure.  But at this moment, those green-tinged amber eyes with impossibly heavy lashes were full of worry. “You okay, Squirt?”, I said.

And bless him, he said that he didn’t want to go on any of the “upside down ones” because they made his “tummy feel sick”. 

Whoa for a minute. Such perfectly stated logic cannot and must not be argued with.  I know grown-ups incapable of communicating that succinctly!

Problem was, Squirt’s dad had huge hopes that his son would brave the big-kid rides.  Isn’t it amazing that even with 24 years between them, each can be so classically male-driven? One fearful of disappointing the father.  The other overzealous in his desire to please his son. Aunt Peach only had one choice.  Squirt’s father’s expectations needed to be adjusted if this day was to be filled with a sense of joy rather than fear.

And here is where I tell you that I love this little boy so much it’s stoopid.  I have since the day he was born.  I can tell you exactly where I was the night that I received the phone call, and how many happy tears fell.   Since I moved South, he and I have been able to bond in a way that twice-yearly trips home for the holidays cannot possibly compare.  In this moment, he was trusting me to make this okay. No small potatoes, people. So I did what I had to do.

And then, all was well in the world.  Squirt was 8 going on 8 again, not 8 going on 18.  He delighted in the shops that housed all kinds of cool kid stuff, the bumper cars that rattled my brain but delighted him, and the monster mansion where I pretended to be scared so he’d hold my hand if he was too. We let him eat frozen lemonade for lunch and said not a word about it.  Squirt and I wandered the games and arcade while we sent his dad on three or four of the big scary rides.  We all went on the swings and non-upside down coasters together. I did go on this Superman ride, and while it was face-first-freakin’-awesome I swear to you it screwed up my hip socket (It still hurts, OW!).

apparently my hips are too old for this s***.


Then there were the water rides.

oh, just… hayull.

For the record, being head-to-toe soaked fully clothed at 3pm means you’ll be dry by exit time of 5:30pm… thank you, Georgia heat.

What I took away from this day wasn’t the sore old-lady hip or even the fun of the rides we did.  Instead, I won’t soon forget the way he held my hand when we were walking between rides. The way we goofed off in line and he pretended to punch my stomach super hard to test out my developing ab muscles. (yep….still mushy.)  The way he wiggled his loose tooth at me and giggled when I grabbed him in a noogie hold to fake-yank the sucker out. The piggyback ride he let me give him and how the souvenir bag full of t-shirts and ripcord bracelets and shark tooth necklaces bumped my hip with every step.

And I won’t forget that when this boy spontaneously throws his arms around me and tells me he loves me, it makes me feel like Superman. Even more than the ride did.

My heart is full.

This.  This is why I moved home.


Participating again in the awesomeness that is Yeah Write. They rock!

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32 responses »

  1. Aw, your love for your nephew shines in this post. I also love the phrase “bathed in sunscreen and nervous energy.” Very nice! I remember my 10 year old summer at Six Flags over Georgia too. Such fun!

  2. Wonderful post! Sounds like you two have a really special and beautiful relationship. You’re both lucky 🙂

  3. AWWW that’s so awesome. What a great story and what great memories you’re building! Now I really want to take my kidlets to an amusement park.

  4. It took passing 50 before I realized that I didn’t have to go on roller coasters. I’m done with them now.

  5. Awww, seems like a great time! Though I HATE upsidedown roller coasters. Normal water rides? Yes please.

  6. Boo… Soooooo glad you are writing again! Several of your posts have read so well, I felt like I was there. Please continue to do what you are doing because seeing your blog show up in my reader easily makes my day. And makes me a little homesick for Georgia.

    • This means so much to me! You’ve just made my day. I will continue to write, because I just can’t seem to help it. That, and I have so much more to learn! Sending you big hugs.

  7. Sounds like an awesome kid with an awesome aunt — yay!

  8. love this. so much. i’m super close with one of my nephews (he’s 20 now but i helped raise him from 4-8) so this really struck home with me.

  9. So wonderful. I Can’t wait until both my kids are old enough for this. I am not much for roller coasters or frozen lemonade but if my makes my juniors happy, I will go with it. I can picture that Georgia heat now…not too unlike Texas, my birthplace.

  10. Sounds like such a great day!

  11. How lucky your nephews are to have an aunt like you! I wish I had one when I was a kid, or that my son’s aunt (my sister-in-law) would spend time with her nephew, which she never does unless it is a holiday dinner. Kudos to you!

  12. What a heart warming story!

  13. Beautiful. Makes me wish my sister lived closer to my girls. What a lucky family you have! 🙂

  14. I agree with Ashley, what a lucky family! You painted a loving picture.

  15. Hey, I’m a Georgia girl, too. (By marriage, not by birth.) Drying wet clothes in an amusement park is the only thing the Georgia heat is good for. 🙂

    I loved this. Very sweet family story.

  16. Just looking at some of those rides made my “tummy feel sick”. Sounds like a nice day nonetheless.

  17. It sounds like time with the little guy was time well spent. Not the rides. But the time together. I loved your descriptions with him. So sweet!

  18. Beautiful post – I could picture myself in this scene with our 5-year-old! Those roller coasters, though. WOW has my tolerance changed with age. I can’t even go on a swing without feeling “funny in the tummy”.

  19. I can’t handle the roller coasters, but I love that you can/do! What a cool way to bond. I have twins who are 6, so I ca imagine this myself (though i think mine wouldn’t be so brave about some of the rides)

    • Ha! I personally love them- the scarier the better. But what made the day special was assuring my nephew that it was OKAY if he didn’t. That fun comes in all forms, and what matters is the time we have. ❤

  20. My oldest daughter is my daredevil. We ride all of the coasters together and she get angry at the fact that she’s still 2 inches shy of being able to ride the best rides.

    My son is TERRIFIED of rides. All of them. Last year (when he was 5) we rode on the kiddie ferris wheel and he actually PISSED HIS PANTS in fear. And his phobia is only getting worse with age. We try not to traumatize him about it but to nudge him a little bit every time we go to face his fears. This last time, we started making progress.

    Luckily, my wife is also not a fan of the big coasters, so while Sissy and I are out daring the devil, she and Bubba do all of the fun things that you describe. It’s a special time for both of us to get to spend a little one on one.

    Sounds like a fun day! I enjoyed reading your account!

    • Aw, Bubba. He’ll get there… or not… but as long as he has you and your support, that’s what matters. Your Sissy sounds like a lovely handful! Thanks for reading.

  21. love the way you love. my brother is that way with my kids too. it is all kinds of amazing for your kids to get that much love.

  22. when they hold your hand…it makes everything worth it. even being soaking wet in the midde of the afternoon.

  23. Love this. It is so important for children to have many grown-ups to love and you obviously love him so much. I enjoyed this tremendously!

  24. “My heart is full.” love that! Sweet post. You can really feel the love you have your baby! 🙂


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