Wednesday, June 13, 2007

The Lure of the GoCarts

If you ask the kids one of the highlight of the trip is always the go carts. If you ask me the part of the trip I always dread is the go carts. Maybe it's the nurse in me, but I don't think so. I think it's just the paranoid mother in me, to tell the truth. But...every time we're at the lake the go carts come up. We stumbled on the track by accident on one of our earlier trips, and the kids begged and pleaded. I said Hell no, are you out of your minds? The next time we were there they all started in on me early about riding them. Finally, because I don't want to totally scar my children with some of my fears, I said yes. We went to the track and Sasquatch rode alone while Surfer Dude and Gumby rode as passengers with Stu and I. It went okay, although Stu made me look like a little old lady driving and the kids never let me forget it. The male need for speed gene is definitely present in my home.

It was during the next lake visit that the event I was dreading took place. They each wanted to drive alone. No adults in the cart to steer, brake or scream in terror. We would have to do that from the stands, the screaming part anyway. It was pretty much set up to be three minutes from hell for me, made worse by my recent work experiences. I was still in a trauma ICU and had for weeks been taking care of a grown man in a coma from a go cart accident. Now I'll grant you that his story was different. He was on private land in a personal vehicle traveling at a high speed and with not a single piece of safety equipment to be found. His go cart had flipped and crushed him. It would not be a story with a happy ending for him, and as one of his primary nurses it was no walk in the park for me either. Putting my kids in one of these deathtraps didn't make me happy, even though all the safety measures in place were hard to miss, even for me. (Did you know that they actually put airbags in these things?) But, to repeat my theme, I don't want to pass all of my fears along to my kids, since one of my worries is that if I totally restrict them they'll become daredevils just to spite me. Surfer Dude in particular is fearless, and could take several years off my life if he chose to. I’m trying not to push him down that road.

So they got on alone, started their engines and took off grinning and waving. Surfer Dude wiped out on a turn and spun his car around hard enough to knock his helmet off. Come to find out later that it wasn't even buckled. The whole time they were driving I was pacing and saying my version of a Hail Mary. Except for that one incident it went fine and they were full of themselves for how well they had done. I went back to the cabin, drank a bottle of wine and tried to forget. Last summer they got to do it again and once more did beautifully. I covered my eyes with my hands, they drove, all ended well. I might still have gone back to the cabin and drank a bottle of wine, but hey, it took a lot out of me just to let them do it. Now that they were gaining confidence it just made me more convinced that they were going to start pushing the envelope. (You know, the envelope containing the copy of my obituary from where I dropped dead from a heart attack on a go cart track).

And then we come to this trip. The two younger boys wanted to play putt putt golf, so we went to the go cart track at the putt putt place. It was a track they'd never been on and it was different, more of an up and downhill figure eight than the banked oval they were used to. There were two other boys on the track and we stood with their dad to watch the show. The track attendants carefully strapped all the kids in, meticulously adjusting straps and helmets. My boys had already set themselves up to be the neurotic out of towner tourists by requesting safety helmets to wear. In the Ozarks wearing pink tights and a bra would be less of an admission of being a sissy momma's boy, but they wore them without complaint. I do get my way on some things and my absolute inflexibility on helmets is one of those things.

Good thing they did, too. Sasquatch hit a wall and spun around at exactly the right angle for Gumby to T-bone him. Surfer Dude, bringing up the rear, almost managed to avoid them but ended up slamming into Gumby who then plowed into Sasquatch again. This all happened in a matter of seconds, and of course it happened on the far curve of the track, in a place we could barely see and not get to. We watched the crash happen and heard the sickening crunch as my heart did one of those fall out of an airplane plunges. As the track workers headed over we waited for the kids to get out of their cars and brush themselves off. I started pacing.

Nobody moved. Nobody made a sound.

I barged through the security entrance and onto the track as the attendants started moving a lot faster toward the wreck. My mom was calling out to me asking me if I could see them. I couldn't. I was about twenty feet up the track when the manager tried to throw me off for “liability reasons”. I was still arguing with him when I saw Gumby get out of his cart and head shakily down the hill. He headed toward me telling me he was okay and so was Surfer Dude, but that he couldn't see Sasquatch. Out of the corner of my eye I saw Sasquatch start talking to one of the workers. As I slowly moved off the track I could see them separate the cars and start to herd them back to the starting line. Gumby said he didn't want to get back in and the manager told me that Sasquatch said he was done too. Surfer Dude, unsurprisingly, was ready for another twenty laps. At the highest speed possible. His brothers may have given in to sanity, but he was above all that. They were all, thankfully, unhurt, although Surfer Dude's airbag did deploy.

That's when I took a deep breath and told Gumby and Sasquatch that they should get back in their carts and finish their turn. I knew that the longer they had to obsess over the crash the more they would freak themselves out, and that by the time we're back next month they would be petrified. Now I could care less if they ever go cart again, but I would like to not subject my kids to any more paralyzing fears than I already do, so I encouraged them to get back on the horse, so to speak. They did, and finished their rides uneventfully. I mentally chugged a bottle of wine while they drove. It didn't help.

Sasquatch felt terrible that he had started the chain of events that triggered the whole thing, but I told him honestly that he shouldn't blame himself. These things happen and guilt is pointless. My mom paid for another round for the two other kids driving, since they were really good sports about having their ride interrupted for the crash. I'd like to think next time we're there they might want to do something else instead of the go carts, but something tells me this is unlikely. The seed has been planted.

Better stock up on wine.

1 comment:

DaydreamSupercollider said...

" repeat my theme, I don't want to pass all of my fears along to my kids, since one of my worries is that if I totally restrict them they'll become daredevils just to spite me."

You've got the right idea...boys will be boys. My son wanted to learn historical swording so I put him in fencing classes - he still wants to learn historical swording, but at least now he has an excellent handle on the basics of weapons training so I can worry less about injury and more about actually enjoying that glass/bottle of wine.