School holidays shared with my daughters ought to be a fun time. I have a notion that the week-long blocks of time I share with my daughters during school holidays should be blissful.

Yet, day three into the week with my daughters, and I was terrified as my racing-harness chair tipped back enough for my stomach to spill into my mouth. I sensed my centre of gravity was about to topple my legs into a somersault over my head.

Almost as quickly, I was turned and propelled downward in a speeding arc, my eyes telling my brain that I was about to impact with the fast-approaching ground. My terror overtook reason when I felt my internal organs slosh around inside. The lurching induced a disorientating nausea, and I frantically hoped each awful spin was the last.

My last fragment of awareness was for my youngest daughter whose hand I gripped, wanting that she might find some comfort in my touch. I hoped that she wouldn’t contract my fear through our locked fingers and that she might experience an exhilaration that escaped me in the beefed-up swing that we were strapped into.

Extreme Thrills

I don’t recommend The Claw at Dream World. Not for 45-year-old dads. As I stepped out of the straitjacket harness, my legs fought against holding me up and my foggy brain strained to comprehend up, down, left and right.

Instinctively, I looked to my daughter, who appeared relieved that she had solid earth holding her firmly. We gazed empathetically at each other, oblivious to the raucous noise of the theme park. As the fog gradually cleared and an awareness of the noise returned, I heard an urgent “Dad!”


My eldest daughter’s frantic call for attention prompted me to focus.

“Dad! That was awesome! Can I do it again?”

The contrast in reactions to the same thrilling ride was so contradictory. My eldest daughter’s second ride afforded me some time to restore my bearings. She was still babbling excitedly after the second go-around. I cannot comprehend how she could experience any exhilaration in all the tumbling and swinging of that crazy theme park ride.

Such theme park trips are a novelty; thankfully, Dream World has more sedate rides than The Claw. Dream World takes a plane trip to get to, and friends offering up a spare room for us to stay in. For all the wild rides, my daughters and I did actually share some amazing, heart-fully connected fun.


Even though there was plenty of fun in the mix, all the body-rattling and moving between home and our friends’ hospitality reminded me that my daughters have to ride out the back-and-forth of two homes each week.

I have wondered since, what exactly goes on for my young daughters who deal with all the complexity of mum and dad living in different homes. I am sure that they do adapt somewhat; however, the reckless revolutions of The Claw made me think that it must create a topsy-turvy sensation at times.

I am amused that my eldest daughter was thrilled by the swing of the ride, while my youngest and I could have done without the scare. However, theme park rides can now wait awhile. School is about to kick off again for another year, so it is important for me to provide a sense of peace, stability and safety.

Fortunately, The Claw was over and done with in a very, very long two minutes. The parental separation ride will twist and turn for a few more years. Unfortunately, there is no “Stop! I want to get off!” Instead, I will see it through with my daughters, committed to holding steady for them, being present as much as I can and comforting them tightly when the back-and-forth spin feels like a crazy ride.


Photo by Vlad Chețan.

Published On: January 10th, 20230 CommentsTags: , , ,

About the Author: Greg McInerney

Greg is the father of two daughters.

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