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She Flies Through the Air With the Greatest Unease

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I can't believe I'm standing in this line! Did I really agree to do this for her? Whatever possessed me? I clench my knees and wait to get on the ride. I look down as the swings whiz over our heads.

Our preteen daughter, Mary, had been working awfully hard on school reports and getting music ready for contests. As a child much younger than her siblings being raised alone by parents not exactly young in years, her home life was not what you would call filled with adventure. When her school's spring break came, I wanted to do something for her to show her a good time.

Since there aren't too many things that we can do together - I don't ski or inline skate (though the latter seems within the range of possibility) - we opted for a trip to Aberdeen, S.D., to visit her older brother and his family. From there, we'd go to Minneapolis and the Mall of America. There was something in it for everybody: My husband and I would enjoy the visiting part, and Mary would enjoy the shopping.

The visit Mary tolerated, though, as she put it, we "didn't do anything." But as we neared Minneapolis, she grew visibly excited. She started talking animatedly about the rides at Camp Snoopy, the amusement park at the mall's center.

"Mom, you'll have to go on the Kite-Eating Tree. It's fun! Oh, and I want you to go on...." and she named several others.

Now I was in at least second grade before I worked up my courage to ride the merry-go-round. Going higher than the third rung on a ladder seemed to me death-defying. Intentionally getting on rides that take you higher than the treetops was as unthinkable as going over Niagara Falls in a barrel.

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