Archive for July, 2007

Doobins Hits Pay Dirt

The other day, Garnet and I took Sparkle Girl and Doobins to Dan Nicholas Park in Rowan County. The place is a kids’ paradise. It has a carrousel, miniature golf, a kid-size train, paddle boats and a petting zoo.

Plus, you can mine for gems. The first time we went, I thought the mining-for-gems part was going to be hokey. You give the park people 7 bucks, which seemed a mite pricey, and they give you a bucket of sand that has been salted with “gems.” You take it to the sluice, put some sand in a wire-bottomed box, put it in the water and uncover your gems.

I was wrong about it being hokey. It turned out to be one of the highlights of Sparkle Girl’s day. She was excited to find the gems and enjoyed deciding which ones to set aside as gifts for her cousins. So, as we headed down to the park this time, she was quite excited about the prospect of finding more gems.

Now one of the things that’s true about Doobins is it can take him a while to get used to the idea of doing something new. You can present him with the possibility of something that you know he would enjoy, and he may or may not do it. The best approach is to let him decide in his own time. Pushing him only guarantees increased resistance.

The first time that we went to Dan Nicholas he declined to ride the carrousel or the train and had not wanted to mine for gems. This time, though, he was excited about the prospect of mining for gems.

On one of the Web sites for kids, he has been playing a gem-mining game and deriving great satisfaction from showing off any new acquisitions to Sparkle Girl, Garnet and me. So the chance of finding some real gems was quite appealing.

It proved to be quite the red-letter day for Doobins. He decided that he wanted to ride the dragon on the carrousel. We had to wait one round because another kid got to the dragon before he did. The man running the carrousel was quite understanding about us wanting to wait.

While Sparkle Girl, Doobins and I were riding – carrousels make Garnet queasy – Garnet went over and talked to Mr. Carrousel Man. I found out after we got off that she was asking him whether listening to the same song all day drove him crazy. Yes, indeed, he said. The carrousel used to have three songs but something malfunctioned, and now it just plays one. He sometimes wakes up at night with the song playing in his head.

So, if you’re looking for a cause, you might consider finding out Mr. Carrousel Man’s real name and then start a drive to get him a new sound system. Something with Fats Waller might be nice.

Doobins also readily got on the miniature train with Sparkle Girl and Garnet. It was my turn to sit out. My thinking was that the train might be, like the booths in some restaurants, a tight squeeze for me.

Doobins loved the train almost as much as Garnet loved seeing the smile on his face.

Next it was off to the gem mines. Outside the place where you pick up your buckets is a giant mining car that sits on a section of rails. The gems in it are bigger than my fist. It looked exactly like a large-scale version of the gem-laden mining car in the video game. The two buckets of sand salted with gems that they gave us were generous enough that they were too heavy for the kids to carry their own. I carried them.

At the sluice, Garnet and I would pour some sand in the sifting boxes, and the kids and water would send the sand on down the sluice, revealing one gem after another. Too excited by the prospect of finding the next gem to add the one in hand to their respective piles themselves, the kids would hand their gems to one of us to take care of so that they didn’t lose any precious gem-discovering time.

By the time their respective buckets were empty, each had a pile that was almost precisely the same size. I silently thanked whomever salts the buckets for making sure that the gems are evenly divided.

At the end of the sluice were clear plastic bags for putting the gems in. We put the gems in the bags and tied the ends so that there would be no heart-breaking spillages.

As we were walking toward the petting zoo, Doobins lifted his bag of gems above his head and said, “Yreka, I’m rich.”

Yreka, I, too, am rich.

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