one kid's play is another kid's torture

Rebekah has been doing an incredible job with her potty training. (What does the above picture have to do with that? Well, keep reading, gentle friend.) As incentive, we have been using sticker charts, and she would earn a sticker every time she went successfully. With each chart completed, she got a bigger prize: a Jonah "Go Fish" game, an ice cream cone, a horsey flashlight. Once she got the hang of it, she was filling up those charts pretty quickly.

So we changed the rules. With her fourth chart, she earned a sticker for every day she had no accidents. Because it took her much longer to achieve the end goal, Seth and I decided to make it a doozy of the prize. When Rebekah filled her chart, we packed up both girls and headed to McDonalds for dinner and playing.

Now, we had never been to this McDonalds before. And we probably wouldn't have chosen McDonalds if it weren't for the Play Place. But the toys at Arctic Circle are in a room that doesn't appear to have any heating ducts, therefore making it ... well, arctic.

Rebekah enjoyed her "cheese hamburger," apples and chocolate milk while Seth and I ate our Value Meals (and took several years off our lives, as Seth said). Then we moved into the room with the Play Place so Bekah could go nuts.

Neither of us having gone to this particular McDonalds before, Seth and I weren't aware that the toys were actually one very long, winding tube that leads unsuspecting children higher and higher where it suddenly drops off into a very dark, long slide that transports the child back down to Earth.

As Bekah started up the tubes, I think she had a false sense of security; there were many other children in there having fun. Why shouldn't she enjoy it as well? Seth and I lost track of where she was, but it was apparent she had reached the top of the drop-off when her amplified voice called out, "Mommy! Daddy!" frantically, followed by an older girl saying, "It's okay. Your mommy and daddy are down there. Here, ride in my lap." I waited at the end of the slide for the two to show up, and the look on Bekah's face rapidly changed from panicked to relieved as she saw me waiting on the nice, safe ground.

I thanked the girl and had Bekah do the same, and Bekah decided she was much safer "playing" on the toys by climbing up one step, then turning around and jumping off.

Later, when the other kids had either left with their parents or settled down to eat their food, I asked Bekah if she wanted to give the tubes and slide another shot. As I squanched myself down to the height of a nine-year-old and started climbing up the tubes (much to the dismay of my knees), Rebekah decided it was safe and followed me. We were almost to the top when I heard the pitter-patter of little feet below us, and I doubled my speed so we could get up there before other kids caught up to us. We slid down without incident, so Seth and I thought Bekah could now handle the tubes without any problems.

We tested our theory by sending Bekah up by herself again. I followed her around the Play Place, knocking on the windows in the tubes and waving to her. Then I lost sight of her as she climbed too high for me to reach. I thought, "She'll be fine this time," only to have those thoughts interrupted by Bekah's wailing: "Mommy! Daddy!" I quickly handed Analee off to Seth and dashed back up the tubes. I called out, "It's okay! Mommy's coming!" but Bekah didn't settle down until she saw me come around a bend.

So she and I climbed to the top of the slide together, and this time I told her that she could go down by herself and I would follow her. I could tell she wasn't too keen on the idea as she used her hands to stop her downward progression, but Seth's reassuring words from the bottom of the slide coaxed her to finally let go.

She made it, of course, unharmed, but I think it will be many more months (years?) before we try that one again. I guess we'll just have to wait until spring when we can go to Arctic Circle without getting hypothermia.