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Friday, January 06, 2006 | I used to think it was easier to be a dad than a mother – until I took my only daughter to Legoland.
I went there this past weekend and figured it was an easy way to earn Daddy brownie points. After all, if you’re a dad and you let your wife have the day off (actually a half day) by taking the daughter in the car to an amusement park, that’s enough to get elected into the Daddy Hall of Fame, right?
That’s what I thought. But it’s a little harder than that.
I decided to take Alex to Legoland because we hadn’t been there for a while and she was kind of young the first time. I figured the ride would be easy, since she’s in the back, locked in a child seat and doesn’t have control over the radio or cassette like my wife might under other circumstances.
It wasn’t that easy. Even though it was after Christmas, Alex kept demanding to hear Christmas music. This put a crimp in my plans to have a long car drive on the open road. I did put on an old Dean Martin Christmas CD but soon exerted my fatherly control by putting on Bruce Springsteen’s “Born to Run” instead.
She said she wanted Christmas music but I informed her that any album that has at least four songs with glockenspiel automatically qualifies as holiday music.
Since she had a hard time saying “glockenspiel,” I temporarily won the battle.
Once we got up to Carlsbad, paid the $8 parking fee and entered the park, I felt like a kid again (an impatient 10-year-old boy to be exact).
This little boy part of me comes out at places and times like this and is an aspect I need to control a little better. There are so many cool sounding rides and activities that I wanted to do that Alex is still too young for, so I had to slow down and do things on her schedule.
This means letting her dig in the sand for dinosaur bones at one activity center or run around a play area made up to look like a town, complete with fire stations and farms.
Sure, she’s having a good time and I’m having fun watching her but then I look at the people screaming on the roller coaster and wish I was one of them.
Or at least I wish I brought my sports page.
We went on a train ride and Alex enjoyed saying, “choo choo!” as we passed by people and when we were waiting for another ride, I discovered she has inherited a hatred of waiting in line from me.
My dad used to say, “Mob scene is obscene,” and like any popular amusement park, Legoland has hour-long waits at the coolest sounding rides – and height requirements.
I know because I tried to sneak Alex aboard one ride where you pull yourself up by a rope. The attendant caught my ruse and I walked off pretending to be clueless, not embarrassed, but Alex remained philosophical.
“I’ll be big enough next year,” she says.
Luckily, Legoland has lots of distractions and activities that don’t require a wait, such as this knight’s hideaway filled with stairs, slides and passageways. Alex could have spent hours there running up and down. I went crazy trying to follow her especially since she had the bad habit of going down passages where you were only supposed to go up.
I followed Alex down the “up” passage at one point and some kid about six informed me, “You’re not supposed to go down that way. Just up.”
I admit I lost it and told him firmly, “Hey, I’m trying to get my daughter. Will you tell HER to follow the signs.”
Then he cried.
It was time for lunch and I was excited because Alex and I were alone. Although I have high triglycerides, I also have an unproven theory that a bad diet and terrible exercise habits don’t matter if my wife isn’t around to nag me.
But I decided to be almost good (and cheap) by ordering two kids meals instead of getting the adult menu. However, I made sure the staff packed MY meal in the boys bag. After all, I didn’t want to get any strange looks, right?
I thought Alex might want the breaded chicken nuggets but, hot dog, she wanted the hot dog, leaving the precious deep fried golden goodies for her daddy. We sat down at a table next to another dad with his daughter and she immediately bonded with Alex when they both sang, “Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer” as loud and tuneless as possible.
I didn’t bond with the guy so much, especially since his first line was, “Boy, those french fries look good. I’ll bet you’d like one of those, right Isabella?”
Hey, I know Christmas is a time of giving but I think there’s a limit when it comes to french fries.
After lunch, Alex and I went to Miniland, the part of the park that features Lego recreations of famous tourist spots around the world. It is so cool. I think every adult who has played with Legos would like to build a Taj Mahal, or the White House in Legos.
It was kind of chilling to see the Lego version of New Orleans in perfect condition and unaffected by a Lego hurricane and it’s nice to see it being used as a learning tool for parents.
One child asked his mom why the Lego cemeteries in New Orleans were above ground and she was able to explain that the Lego New Orleans is below sea level and all the Lego corpses would float away if they were buried underground.
At first, I was surprised there isn’t a Lego version of the San Diego Zoo in the southern California section but then I realized the two parks are competing for the same family dollar. I did enjoy the Lego San Francisco but wish they had some Lego hippie kids begging for change around the Lego Haight-Ashbury district to add realism.
The best part about taking my daughter to Legoland wasn’t the actual park experience but later that night when she was talking to her stuffed animals about the trip she took with Daddy to Legoland and all the climbing she did and the fun she had.
So while I may not make it to the Daddy Hall of Fame just yet, it’s moments like that that make me want to try harder to get inducted.
David Moye is a La Mesa-based writer who thinks blue is the best color for Legos.