Steve Fuehne, who screamed his fool head off next to his delighted 10-year-old daughter on an amusement park's "Screaming Swing" ride, is my Dad of the Week. When I watched the video, I saw a great father who loves his little girl and values her happiness a lot more than he does his own.
That’s not what everyone sees when they watch the video. One of my friends quickly dismissed it with, “He’s a weenie,” and you just know Fuehne’s friends and family gave him grief over it. (And the clip is a year old – now, when he thought it was behind him, he’s getting a fresh round of ribbing.) And if I knew him, I probably would too – it’s great fun to watch a grown, tough-looking man scream like... well, I'd say like a little girl, but his daughter was grinning with glee the whole time, so that doesn't quite fit.
The key to this video’s story lies in two things Steve says. During the first ride, he makes a very loud, desperate vow that, on its face, seems pretty set in stone:
“NEVER AGAIN, GRACE ELIZABETH! OH MY GOD! I HATE THIS THING!”
That, of course, is what a rational adult would say to this kind of torture. But after the first ride is over, Steve says something else:
“We really can do one more? Oh, take me up again. I’ll do it with you, honey.”
That, of course, is what a good dad would say. And with a what-the-hell wave of his arm, Steve Fuehne told the ride attendant to take them up for another whirl. Because he knew his daughter was having a good time. The juxtaposition of those two comments, the second so soon after the first – I am miserable, but I will endure because I love you so – highlights the rollercoaster ride that is parenthood.
As parents, we all face our own "Screaming Swing." For me, the torture comes with flashing lights, confetti cannons and annoying music played at a ridiculously high volume.
Last fall I sat through a Yo Gabba Gabba! show because our daughter, NJ, loves DJ Lance, Plex and the whole gang. I wasn’t looking forward to it, and I groused a little beforehand, but I went with her – and it ended up being better than I’d anticipated. I’m girding myself for something else, though: a Wiggles concert tour. I’ll tell you right now that there is no way in hell I will sit through two hours of “Fruit Salad” and “Hot Potato.”
Unless my daughter wants to go. Then I’ll get the best possible tickets, take her by the souvenir stand, sit through every one of the cringe-worthy ditties, and even get into it with the dad in front of me if his kid is blocking NJ’s view.
Because that’s what good dads do. Right, Steve?