Friday, November 2, 2012

HOWL-O-SCREAMING Parenting Advice from VRPS

By Nancy Turnage, VRPS Central Office

The best cure for a mouthy teen is a zombie chasing them with a chainsaw.  If this little tip gets out to the parenting world, there will be a rush on theme parks featuring Halloween fright around the world.  Parents of surly ingrates will be rushing the gates, dragging their prodigy.

I've lived in Central Virginia for thirteen years, and this was my first Howl-O-Scream.  I suppose the lure of the many callers inquiring at the VRPS Central Office regarding discount tickets was too much to resist.  Off I went - on the last Friday of the last weekend of October, just hours ahead of Sandy, along with my three teens and Spouse.  The cloud cover was evident, the misty rain prevalent, and the mood anticipatory.

As we entered the first haunted house, my thoughts were simply on the spookiness of everything - fog machines, dim lighting, creepy screaming and music.  Within the first two minutes, it became apparent that the freaked reaction of my teens was far more entertaining.  They were petrified.  Middle clung to Oldest, ready to use her as a human shield to doom and terror, for the sake of self-preservation.  They raced through, wanting the misery to be over rather than relishing the performances and decor.

And that was just the first one.  We managed to "enjoy" three more, much to the dismay of Middle and Youngest.  Oldest eventually joined into the spirit of things and for some reason became a favored victim of the bloodied clowns and zombies with power tools - something about her pink sweatshirt, bobbing ponytail, and unfortunate trusting nature....  Yes, I will admit, we MADE them go instead of letting them branch off and binge on rides - you know, all for the sake of safety (it was dark) and family time.

A great deal of personality can be devised from one's reaction to fear:

  • How deep does the fright or flight instinct go?  In the case of my Offspring, they are pure flight, through and through.
  • Is there a concern for others?  Youngest gave me a good shove here and there, so maybe not so much.
  • What degree of self-control is exhibited (putting on a brave face and all that)?  Zero.
I suppose the same analysis can be said for us, the parents; Spouse and I thoroughly, totally, COMPLETELY enjoyed watching them get the #$%& scared out of them.  So, in addition to the remarkably clean restrooms (yes, we visited most if not all of them), the super-helpful staff (at least the living ones), and the efficient thrill ride queue process (nothing beats the Griffon or Apollo's Chariot at night, much less the front row!), the terror is TOP-NOTCH.  Therefore, my advice is this:  next year, clear your calendar one evening and enjoy Howl-O-Scream.  Drag your wayward teens, relish in their terror, and make some family memories.

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