I had another firewalk moment last week.

For those of you that are familiar with my book, Firewalk: Embracing Different Abilities, you know that I refer to a firewalk as those moments in life when you take the fear of doing something along with you as you take a risk, rather than allowing the fear to stop you.

Last week my firewalk involved Slimey’s Chutes at Sesame Place.

Are you laughing or just perplexed by the last sentence?

Last week my husband and I took our three-year old to Sesame Place, a wonderful little amusement park outside of Philadelphia, based of course on Sesame Street. I have been living in the world of Sesame Street for the past three years. My son cannot get enough of Elmo and Abby, so our journey to Sesame Place has become a summer ritual.

This year Jaden is old enough to go on a few more of the rides. Now, I have to say, I am not an amusement ride person. I’m the kind of person who has to take motion sickness pills for long car rides and I get seasick on cruises. I usually leave the riding part of parenthood to Scott, my roller coaster-loving husband.

However, I love the water! So a ride involving me being in water tempts my otherwise queasy self. And there was another factor at work here. Jaden is already beginning to understand there are many physical things I can’t do (run for more than 20 feet, carry him home from a walk when he’s tired, button his shirts, etc). I want him to see me do some physically fun things.

So, using my mantra of “breathing through fear,” I stood in the long, hot line with my family, coaching myself that I could do this. By the way, being a water ride, we were of course barefoot and had to stand on the hot cement for twenty minutes, so it did feel like a firewalk!

Scott took Jaden in his inner tube and I followed in my own tube. I swear the ride was not even thirty seconds, but I uncontrollably let out petrified gasps the entire way down. When Scott greeted me at the end of the “chute” I said, “That was a little scary.” He replied, “Are you serious?”

It wasn’t until a couple days after we got home, that I got the lesson:

When you live with a disability, when you can’t always control your muscle movements, when you never know when you will fall or drool, who needs an amusement ride? You have built-in excitement. Our children will learn far more from how we handle that, than whether or not we go down a water slide.

What’s your take on amusement rides? Love them or hate them? Tell me why in just one word.



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