Trauma in Atlantis

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By Jud Hindes

[names have been changed to protect me!]

I recently joined a friend and her bevy of young ’uns of the female type at SeaWorld. Ranging in age from 4 to 20, daughters, granddaughters, and a niece, it was a wonderful group, and I had a great time, but there was this one time…

Jane, 6 seemed to decide that riding with me was the way to go, so on each ride as we divvied up the party to fit the seating, she would cry out, “I ride with Jud!” This tickled me.

We headed over to Atlantis, a water ride, also known as the “Splash Mountain” of SeaWorld, and as we approached and saw that terrible drop, the tears began. “I don’t wanna do it! I don’t wanna do it!”

Okay! So Jane in tow, we headed on in. Now, Jane and me, both being in wheeled vehicles, me my little blue ECV, and Jane in her wheelchair, we got to bypass the regular line and head over to the special boarding area. We waited only a bit for a boat, and studying the splash patterns, I decided on the third row, while a more daring member of our crew raced to the front.

I helped Jane on, then sat down beside her and the attendant came down and secured the lap bars.

And the meltdown began again! “I don’t wanna do this ride! I don’t wanna do this ride!” Screaming, crying, total full-fledged tantrum! And terror!

Helpless, on our way, I put my arm around her and desperately searched for the right words, but none could be heard anyway over Jane’s constant screaming protest of terror. I dreaded the upcoming drop, a bit steeper than Splash, but figured at least then it would be over…

Jane’s screaming protests continued completely uninterrupted by the drop, and the resultant splash, and even the targeted jets of water that did hit us even in the third row. I covered her with my body to prevent what I could from hitting her, but nothing affected in the least the volume or the rhythm of her screaming protests.

Then we were climbing again, and I wondered what now? There’s more? Lord, please get us to the end! I have a terrified little girl here! Help!

But there was more. At the top of the climb, we moved just way too slowly through a darkened room with glittering light effects that in other circumstances would have been delightful. I had a momentary hope that the slower smoother movement and change of scenery might alleviate some of the upset, but Jane continued unabated.

Then I saw with dread what was coming! The water trough gave way to full-fledged roller coaster tracks, that twisted left, then right in a sharply banked and rapid switchback! My heart sank! I wrapped my arm tighter around my charge and prayed!

As we zoomed out the top of the switchback and back into the final trough, and as I braced to struggle once again to find some way to comfort Jane, that adorable face looked up at me and stated with calm satisfaction, “That part was fun.”

I’m glad I’m a bachelor.

[Endnote: I have dealt with this before with my own niece many years ago and I do know how to deal with it successfully! I simply forgot, but for any who do face this in the future, despite the happy ending, the correct handling if you are on a ride that has started and you can’t get out, and the child panics (or an adult for that matter), this is what to do: ignore the ride and anything else; look the child in the eye and in a firm, calm voice, command the child to look at you. Repeat as needed, continuously if necessary, and just keep the child looking you in the eye. When the child quite naturally glances away again, repeat the command. Continue until it is over. Then, to quote Jane, “Never do that ride again!!!”]

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Library of Congress ISSN:1556-3863

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