This week: Ride some rides.
My brother and I had the same babysitter for most of our childhood. Her name was Six Flags.
By the second week of summer vacation, having us home full-time usually brought my mom to the edge of sanity. We were dirty, loud little people. We demanded all sorts of crazy things like three meals a day and rides to the community pool. Since I had a lot of free time, I tried to help out around the house. Once, I tried to cover a scratch on my mom’s white Nissan Sentra with white-out and house paint.
She didn’t thank me when she saw the repair job, but I could tell she was impressed. She locked herself in the bedroom for five hours that afternoon. I think she was calling her friends to brag about me.
The summer I was 12 and my brother was 10, my mom bought us season passes to Six Flags. She said it was so us kids could get some fresh air. I was always puzzled by her unusually wide grin every time she dropped us off. Sometimes, it was even before the park opened. I guess she really wanted us to get fresh air. Often, we’d hang out with our babysitter for eight or more hours.
We learned to budget. My mom gave us ten dollars apiece. The first few times, we blew through our cash. Quick tip: If you spend all your money in thirty minutes, you’re up shit creek. Hungry? Too bad. Thirsty? Too bad.
We got smart. We figured out that a soda costs four dollars, but a cup a water was free. Well, the water was free, but the concession stand charged for the ice and cup, which cost 25 cents. We stopped buying giant lollipops, foot-long powdered candy, funnel cakes, giant turkey legs, foam fingers, and stuffed animals. Instead, we bought a french fry snack and used the rest of the money for a burger lunch, which we split in half.
We learned to be brave. We’d give each other a little boost every time we wanted to back out of a ride. The Giant with its 79 degree drop? You can do it, sis! The Flashback with its three back-to-back loops? Why are you such a big, fat chicken, brother? Clearly, I’m an awesome big sis.
I’m taking my brother on some roller coasters this week. In honor of our old babysitter, Six Flags.
Fondest summer vacation memories as a kid?
Did any of y’all have unusual babysitters?
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