A small child running loose in a crowded amusement park, tears streaming down his face frantically looking for his Momma. This is the ultimate fear of every parent who has ever taken their child with them to an amusement park, and while many people will say, “Well, if they had just been paying more attention.” I happen to be the mother of a very hyper seven-year-old boy with a fascination of fairs, carnivals or any type of amusement park.
That being said, it is naturally not always in our immediate plans or budget to make a trip to any of these places, so on the occasions that we can go I want to make the day as fun and safe for him as humanly possible. I have learned a few tricks to taking my son to fairs, carnivals and amusement parks and making it possible for both of us to enjoy the day.
First, I never take my son to any of these places by myself. Now, that may sound a little extreme, but in reality sometimes the crowds, the music and the lights just prove so fascinating for him that he “forgets” what that he is supposed to be with me.
All it took was one time of me paying for some cotton candy, and him disappearing in the seconds it took to exchange the money for the pink fluffy concoction, to convince me that I would never do that again without at least one more set of adult eyes in the vicinity. So, now when we go to any one of these fun outdoor venues, I make sure we go with a group. That way, if we do get separated at any point, chances are someone else can see him.
I make it a point to always use the “Buddy System”. At this stage in the game my son knows, if he goes to the bathroom someone else either goes in with him or stands by the door. If he wants to ride something, great, but he’s taking a buddy. If you incorporate the use of the so called buddy system early on at this type of venue, they adjust and automatically begin looking for someone in your group to go with them when they want to move on to something else.
The great side of this for the child is that they never have to do anything alone while in an amusement park. I mean, remember back to your own childhood, every time I started to ride something by myself, I got stuck riding with some gross, smelly kid that everyone else was avoiding. The buddy system ensures that they get the most enjoyment possible out of the day by having a friend to interact with, and helps you by knowing that they are with someone from your group at all times.
I am lucky in that my child is still at an age where he believes his Mommy is cool, and believe me when I say I capitalize on that when we are at any outdoor “fun” venue. At amusement parks or fairs I am the first in line to ride any ride that he wants.
At carnivals, I go with him to watch him ride the elephants or meet the clowns. It provides us both with special memories, and gives me the security of knowing where he is. Most parents are afraid of trying to fit in with their kids; I guess I am more scared of what happens if I don’t fit in with them.
The last tip that I have for any parent taking their young child to an amusement park, fair or carnival is to hold their money for them. Now, most of you are probably saying, well of course I would. But, we always hold the money for all the kids in the group when we go somewhere like this.
That way, they don’t have a large amount of cash on them at any time, and we avoid the whole “I lost my money” scene altogether. It also enables us to see just exactly how much money they are spending on games, and make sure they have enough money for at least one souvenir and their food and drinks.
The most horrifying moments of a day spent at a fair, amusement park or carnival are those few minutes spent from when you realize your child has wandered off, until you spot them in the crowd. However, you can avoid a lot of the dangers in these fun filled outdoor arenas by following a few simple tips. Go with a group, use the buddy system, don’t be afraid to try and fit in with the kids, and hold their money for them. With these tips and a little time you can create memories that will last a lifetime and be safe doing it!