A Sloan Memory Clouded by the Berenstain Bears

As a kid, I made my parents read me the The Berenstain Bears books over and over. We had every book in the series and each one was read probably a million times.

Although each Berenstain Bears book was read about equally, if there was one that got a little more attention it was The Berenstain Bears Get the Gimmies. This particular story addresses the issue of not asking for too much and being happy with what you receive.

The Berenstain Bears Get the Gimmies is a book that will always be cemented in my memory.

The context of this lesson takes place in a grocery store. When Papa and Mama Bear take Sister and Brother along, they have the tendency to ask (or sometimes demand) for everything—candy, toys, gimmicks, etc. Before Papa and Mama called for help from Grandma and Grandpa Bear to teach the cubs about moderation and thankfulness, the shopping trips would always end with one more splurge.

When exiting the grocery store, there would always be a coin operated ride. You know what I am talking about? The rides for kids that they sit on—whether it be a horse, airplane, tiger, car, etc—and it “moves” once a quarter is put in the slot. In the Berenstain Bears, they are called “bucking” rides.

Brother and Sister Bear just had to ride the bucking frog.

One day, the family is leaving the store after a particular bad episode of the “gimmies.” Sister has the nerve to ask if she can ride the “bucking frog” that had recently been installed, replacing the “bucking duck.” Papa initially said “no” but because both cubs ended up literally on the cement throwing a fit, he gave in. The intervention by the grandparents soon followed.

For my whole childhood, whenever I saw a coin operated ride, I immediately thought about the Berenstain Bears. I thought about the bucking duck and the bucking frog. I thought of Sister Bear rolling around on the pavement. I thought about Papa Bear begrudgingly putting coins into the slot.

However, it didn’t deter me from wanting to ride whatever circus animal or fantasy vehicle was in front of me. Worst of all, it didn’t stop me from asking my parents to fund that 90 second, choppy adventure. So much for me applying the morals I learned from the Berenstain Bears, right?

I rode coin operated rides a lot as a kid…and every now and then as an adult as well.

I mention this solely because of an experience we had this past weekend. Our little family plus my father-in-law found ourselves at an old school ice cream parlor in Myrtle Beach. This place had a separate room from the area where the actual ice cream operation was set up. This room had several tables for the flocks of people who visit the parlor to eat their ice cream at. It also had various arcade games, and—you guessed it—a couple coin operated rides.

One of those rides, a handsome looking gray horse, was right by the table we were enjoying our ice cream at. As we sat there, a couple kids stormed over to the horse and started riding it, hollering the whole time. Sloan’s eyes were fixated on the spectacle of two kids on sugar highs swaying to the horse’s movements.

After the machine stopped moving, the kids got off and left. Sloan was still looking at the horse. What else could I do?

Sloan had her first experience on a coin operated ride this past weekend.

With Sidney’s permission, we got up and I placed our daughter on the ride. I put a quarter in and off she went. Feeling that Sloan probably wanted to travel on her horse a little longer, my father-in-law put in another quarter. Although a little hesitant at first, Sloan was smiling and laughing for the majority of both rides.

But all I could think about the whole time was one thing: The Berenstain Bears. Don’t Blink.