Our first stop was Jamestown, which is a reproduction of the first English settlement in the country. It was cool, there was a fort, an Indian village and two replica ships. The boys impressed their mother with their knowledge of all things naval related, information gleaned entirely from playing Assassins Creed 4:Black Flag on our X-Box One.
“That’s a brig,” T2 said, pointing to one of the ships. “It’s different than a frigate or a sloop or a penis.”
“Pinnace,” I corrected.
“Right,” he agreed.
T1 correctly differentiated between solid, canister and chain shot and could give examples of the situational uses of each. Both boys tried to sell their mother on the education value of piracy and video games.
After Jamestown we checked in at the hotel. We’d never actually gone on a “let’s all spend the night in a hotel room” type family vacation before.
T2 is a fiend for hotels. He loves staying in them. Upon entering our room he started running from place to place pointing out features.
“PATRICK!” he yelled from the bathroom,” GET IN HERE AND LOOK AT THIS, THESE COUNTERS, THEY ARE MARBLE!”
“Oh wow, this is nice,” he observed, pointing at a desk lamp.
“Two beds, they are both pretty big,” he said. “T1, I am sharing with you.”
He was obsessed by the phone. He wanted to call his friends. He wanted to call down to the front desk for everything- food, a pencil, towels, to check the weather. I couldn’t figure out why he was suddenly Alexander Graham Bell Jr. and it didn’t occur to me until much later that he wasn’t used to seeing a phone that had a handset and that plugged into a wall. We don’t have a home phone. He’s lived most of his life with cellphones. An old style phone was an object of amazement for him, as much a thing of history as the stuff we had seen at Jamestown.
Next we went to Busch Gardens Amusement Park. When I was growing up we would always go to the Busch Gardens in Tampa, which is set up to replicate Africa. The one in Virginia is Europe themed. It’s a rather nice park and C got us passes. T2 declared he was going to ride a roller-coaster.
He is a fiend for hotel rooms. Not so much, it turns out, for roller-coasters.
He sat next to me. He was okay going up the first hill. He made no sound at all going down the hill, was silent through the first loop and quiet as we went up the second hill. His eyes were wide and his body stiff.
At the top of the second hill he turned to me and, very calmly, said, “I am never doing this again.”
He spent the rest of the ride with his eyes screwed shut and his head ducked down to his chest.
He got off, legs wobbly, and swore off anything that went higher than thirty feet, his arbitrarily chosen height, for the rest of his life.
C is no fan of roller-coasters either, and it was a bit cold so we couldn’t go on any of the water rides, so T1 and I hit all the cosaters in the park while she and T2 took on some of the less frightening rides. Somehow, towards the end of the day, she convinced him to give another coaster a try, this time one that mostly took place inside and that didn’t go very high. What she didn’t know was the one they chose had the most genuinely scary moment that T1 and I experienced on any ride there. You are in the dark and the coaster has stopped. Without warning it drops. I don’t mean it goes down a hill, I mean the entire eight section coaster and the track it is on drops about ten feet. It scared the shit out of both of us. We got off the ride only to see C and T2 well on their way through the line. We tried to warn C without completely freaking out T2, but to no avail.
Once again, T2 wobbled off of the ride. C’s sleeve was covered in drool.
“You did it,” she said. “You were so brave.”
“I wasn’t brave,” T2 explained, actually laughing out loud at his mother’s attempts at spin. “I was terrified. I couldn’t move. I literally was paralyzed with fear!”
“But you conquered the fear,” his mother tried again.
“I started crying,” he pointed out, “crying is not conquering!”
“But you…well…okay,” she conceded.
“NOTHING OVER THIRTY FEET!”
The next day was spent at Colonial Williamsburg, which had re-enactors in costumes and taverns you could eat and drink in, but nothing particularly tall to drop off of.