We celebrated the kid’s 2nd birthday on Saturday with a trip to Sundown. This theme park has a lot of notoriety as my favourite location: mum never used to make it much past the lost child collection point as I’d disappear off into miniature villages where adults couldn’t and lose the tail. As a result there was a degree of trepidation as we set off.
En route we saw a car half dangling in a roadside ditch, and seeing a kiddie-seat in the back, I stopped and half-pushed, half-lifted the car back onto the road with the help of another passing motorist... the other family were lost on the way to Sundown so then we had a convoy! Once through the gates of the park, we began to explore a range of miniature and not-so-miniature challenges which the kid loved. They now have two large buildings PACKED with soft-play together with all the rides and adventures I remember from 25 years ago. I’m delighted to say that I had as much fun running round and ‘supervising’ the child as he did playing, and it was quite magical to experience the place from his perspective.
He’s started talking more lately, and the whole day was quite the action packed way to see just what he could say and communicate. He was effusive about being able to “drive” on one of the rides, and talked all through the day, only lapsing into tears once when surprised by a squirting pirate on the barrel ride. My wife has a signed copy of David Crystal’s Listen to Your Child which she refers to quite religiously and is thrilled to report that in many ways the kid is ahead of the curve linguistically... as the old line goes - getting him to be quiet is the real trick!
Part of the secret to a good day out is not just listening to the kid, but letting him have the freedom to be himself. I realised at last why Sundown was magical as a kid... everything is to scale, and whilst and adult may find the rides simplistic and the doorways challengingly small... for a child it’ probably their first experience of walking through a door their size and having information presented on their level.