Friday, June 19, 2009

Waiting in a Line

Yesterday, I took my daughter, four-year-old Julia, to the Carnegie Science Center. Her favorite thing to do is jump on the trampoline while strapped into a harness suspended from bungee cords. The line was long. It was raining and they just opened their robot exhibit. But waiting is more about her happiness and she could remain happy for hours anticipating the trampoline.

The misery was all mine yesterday.

There was this guy that looked like Fred Savage's dad from the Wonder Years. I could never figure out what kid he was with and even wondered if he personally was going to have a jump. He struck up a conversation with the guy behind him who laughed like John Belusi. They were having a sort of talk that was a few decibels too loud and hard for me not to overhear. Apparently they were both from the south.

Then 30 minutes in, out of boredom or whatever, they started in on politics. The Wonder Year's dad was a raging Republican. "Look how the Democrats have destroyed this state! Just look at it!" He says. I have to take a deep breath as he continues, "Anytime you elect Democrats your gonna pay higher taxes." But the Belusi guy doesn't bite and the conversation passes to something less inflammatory, at least to me, something about Catholics.

Now we've all waited 50 minutes for our kids to jump for 90 seconds. Parents, kids and this guy with no kids. He turns around and there is his son, merrily riding the Orbitron.

You've got to be kidding me.

Julia has been pulling my arms out of the sockets. She intermittently needs picked up, kissed, swung around, pinches my eyelids, and flops flat on the floor.

His kids aren't even in the line. They're having fun on the other ride as Dad does their waiting for them. It's a one for one trade. I can rationalize it as I stare straight at the sign that reads NO LINE HOLDING.

Then his daughter shows up too.

I'm boiling mad, but I don't have the guts to say anything. "Julia, I wonder what that sign means, NO LINE HOLDING?" I ask loudly. Belusi guy smiles compassionately. "This is why we need Daddy," I tell her. "This would never fly with him around."

No one else cares that the end of their atrocious wait has just been held up another six minutes by two additional Jr. Republicans. They go and jump, their old parents applaud. Someday they'll be Senators I'm sure.

It makes me wonder, which is good parenting? Is it me, who makes the poor kid play by the rules? Just like my parents did, I won't wait in the line for her. When the fifth grade teacher was known to be terrible, I was one of the few kids that ended up in the class. Mom and Dad wouldn't request the other teacher for me. I never asked them to. It either built character or ruined a year of my education.

Or is it these kids' mom and dad? Will they enjoy the bouncing untouched by the boredom of a line that's too long for a ride that's too short?

Even if they are right, I can't stand to be around them.