Let’s Sit In Front!

Two years ago my parents took all five grandchildren to Florida to the beach and Sea World and Disney World.

Disney World.

My mom looked kind of chagrinned when she brought it up, as though she was worried we might think they had taken leave of their senses. She had reason. When my brother and I were young, our family drove west, not south; we vacationed in the woods, not the city; and rare were our visits to an amusement park.

They take them, all five of them, somewhere every year. I accompanied them on one of these trips. Two words: controlled chaos. Plus hefty doses of work and fun, adventure and love. They come home exhausted.


My son is the oldest grandchild and my niece, the youngest. The ten years between them has allowed him to enjoy her in a different way than he has the others. From her toddlerhood he’s carried her on his back when they’ve been on the trail. He pushed her all-terrain stroller down the mile-long switchbacked dirt trail to the Yellowstone River and back up again. He still hoists her up when she’s too little to see.

Yellowstone River Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone River
Yellowstone National Park

They’re pals.


She was his partner so his was the dilemma when they passed through the gate to the Journey to Atlantis water roller-coaster. He felt her pull on his hand as her little voice called out, “Let’s sit in front! Let’s sit in front!” What was a fifteen year old boy to do? He didn’t want to take her to the front because he knew it would be scary for her but he didn’t want to disappoint her either.

They sat in front.

It was a rough ride. “Let’s sit in front” quickly gave way to “Cover my eyes! Cover my eyes!”

Roller-coasters are punishing. I didn’t know that when I was young. When I climbed out of the car on Adventureland’s Tornado at fourteen, I didn’t know how it would be twenty-five years before I rode again. What was a thrill in my teens was just painful in my thirties. Every hairpin turn shook my rigid body. Every drop rearranged my insides.

I don’t get to choose reality and unlike my niece, I don’t head to the front car. My tendency is to hang to the back and give myself the illusion that I’ve postponed the drop or minimized the effect. I suppose we all have our way of engaging the drops and turns that come our way. This year I’m wondering if I need to shatter the illusion and grow up enough to revisit the zeal of youth that heads toward the front.

And you? Where is your seat of choice on a roller-coaster? How about in life?

Linking with Lyli’s Thought Provoking Thursdays.

6 thoughts on “Let’s Sit In Front!

  1. Sharon says:

    I love the front seat of the roller coaster! But it is kind of funny because I tend to be so cautious with everything else in life. This post was a good post for me to read because the words God has on my heart this week are renew and restore. I want Him to renew and restore the joy I’ve had for Him in response to His salvation…that original child-like excitement in Him.

    Visiting from Thought Provoking Thursday.

  2. Lyli @ 3-D Lessons for Life says:

    Natalie, this post totally resonated with me. We are on a bit of a “ride” right now. I actually wrote a post for Start Marriage Right a while back about how marriage can be like a roller coaster ride. In real life, I am not fond of coasters that go upsidedown, but am a fan of the old ones that make a lot of noise and twist about a bit. Definitely, it’s always more fun if you ride with a friend. You’ve given me a bit of a challenge though — will I choose to ride with my hands held high in the front seat of life? Wow, what a great post for the new year! So glad you linked up with Thought-Provoking Thursday. 🙂

  3. Shelly Miller says:

    Great post Natalie, I love your thoughts. And I’m so inspired by your son’s generous heart toward her, its so heartwarming. Me? I don’t do roller coasters anymore. I decided I don’t have to do things that make me cringe inside and walk around sick the rest of the day. But I love watching the joy on the faces of others. That is much more of a gift for me. Happy New Year!

    • Natalie says:

      Thanks, Shelly. Kids do inspire, don’t they? While I believe I will never ride a roller coaster again, after all the years wandering around an amusement park pregnant or pushing a stroller, it was fun to join a different world for a little while.

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