One of my favorite things to do as a small child was to play with dirt and rocks. Today’s generation should really try it sometimes. However on really special days my family would go to Lake Winnepesaukah for some theme park fun. (As an aside, I could literally type Winnepesaukah 2000 times and I still wouldn’t remember how to spell it. Love you Google, mean it!) It was the most awesome place in the world.
For those who don’t know, Lake Winnie is an amusement park that has been around since the 1920s. It is located in a small town next to Chattanooga, Tennessee, which was where I lived in my early years. I have such fond memories of spending my Saturdays at Lake Winnie. If I was super lucky my grandma would take me. She was the best grandma and looking back now those were magical times.
When I had kids of my own, it was important for me to share my special place with them. This past weekend we took all four kids to the very place that I love so much. Now let me tell you the difference between experiencing Lake Winnie as a child and taking your own kids. Growing up sucks.
1. The walk from the car to the park used to be so quick. Now it is something that I can only compare to herding cats. Ever try to get four kids to walk together? You can’t.
2. As a child I skipped through the entrance gates without a care in the world. Now I am stopped by uniform-clad adults, asking me to fork over large amounts of cash just to get inside.
3. A childhood tradition of ours was to ride the Lake Winnie train as soon as we arrived. This is a small passenger train that carries you all the way around the park, letting you see the many attractions. My kids had differing opinions of what traditions we should have. My kids voted. I vetoed. My kids rode the train. When I was a kid no one asked me what I wanted. They will thank me one day.
4. Naturally my kids loved the kiddy rides that are purposely placed at the front of the theme park. Little boats, little cars, little motorcycles that go round and round in a circle. Only problem is my knees stopped fitting under those steering wheels YEARS ago. So now I just stand there watching them have all the fun.
5. Kids pee. A lot. Once we finally make our round of the little kid rides, and I am ready for the real rides, everyone has to go to the bathroom.
6. Taking four kids to a pubic restroom is something out of a horror film. Let’s just say that watching a kid, who has locked his stall door and can’t get it open, crawl on his belly underneath the door, literally gave me heart palpitations. I can only hope that he licked the floor a couple of times on his way out too.
7. Kids today are way too demanding. They declare that if they don’t get water soon, they will surely faint. I suppose it is wrong to knowingly dehydrate your children. I just don’t remember caring about such things as a child. This is where I have two choices. A water fountain that appears to be from 1970 complete with spiders and rust OR purchase bottles from a vendor. We spent TWELVE DOLLARS ON WATER. I should have opted for the fountain. I mean one of them had already licked the bathroom floor anyway.
8. Everyone still wants to ride the rides with mom. Cute but annoying and not very productive. Everyone agreed that we should ride the ski lift chairs that take you over the park for a bird’s eye view. The only problem is three of the four wanted to ride with me. Only two riders allowed at a time. I had to take three rides. The second time it stopped in mid ride. For no apparent reason we were just hanging while suspended by a freaking cable. I was already surveying the situation to see how many bones were actually going to break or if we could even survive. I have seen the headlines: Roller coaster riders stuck at the top of a loop for 18 hours. We would surely die on this ride. Starve to death, dehydrate, pee our pants. 7 seconds later we started moving again. I don’t remember freaking out like that as a child.
9. Kids want to do all of the fun stuff, instead of you. I was begged and guilted into letting my daughter drive the antique cars while I rode in the back with my son. These are old timey cars that follow a track and you actually steer them and punch the gas pedal. I used to be the one doing the driving. It would seem as though now it is more like driving Miss Daisy and I am Daisy.
10. My favorite ride from childhood was called the Himalaya. Here is a pic of the old ride.
It would go round and round as you held on for dear life. Today? My once favorite ride is called the Matterhorn. There was no longer any loud music blaring or a DJ/ride operator (yes I always thought that was a scary job combo but it just worked) asking us if we wanted to go faster. We would hold our hands over our heads and scream. Now there is just……the ride with an occasional scream from someone who’s buddy vomited on him. My daughter said it was fun but what did she know. She wasn’t there back in the day.
This is where I realized that being a kid, in itself, is and should always be magical. Some of my greatest childhood memories were made at this park and now we are making childhood memories for my kids. My daughter thought the Matterhorn was amazing and that is all that matters. She will always remember spending family summer days taking in the Great Lake Winnepesaukah.
We left for home just as it got dark. All the way home the kids discussed what their favorite rides were, what were the funniest things they had seen in the wacky house and which ride were they going to be big enough to add to their list next year. It made my heart smile.
Introducing my kids to something that meant so much to me was even better than going as a child. Sure it is more of a hassle when you are the adult but isn’t that what it is all about? Creating wonderful childhood memories with our kids. Now I know why my grandma took me. She was helping make my memories.
Can’t wait to take the kids back next year. What are your favorite childhood memories to share with your children?