Monday, August 20th, 2007
Taking a Toddler to the Fair
Our visit to a county fair this weekend illustrated the difference for us between a 2-year-old and 3-year-old’s ability to derive fun from risk taking.
Check out these two photos.
In 2006, our 2-year-old daughter (sitting next to the blond boy in the blue shirt) rode the above dragon-themed roller coaster with a good dose of fear and trepidation. She needed her 5-year-old friend with her for reassurance. I captured her smiling in the photo, but the ride was quite emotional. Her facial expressions vacillated between great joy and great fear, even between laps at the same points in the ride. One trip on the dragon was enough for her.
The roller coaster is quite small, with an oval track that has one rise and fall, with five or six laps over two minutes. Afterward, we took two rides on a carousel and gave up on amusements. Now look at a photo of her from this year.
The above photo was originally captioned, "I’ve got to get one of these for my backyard!," but my wife’s caption preference won out.
In 2007, our 3-year-old daughter went on the same coaster by herself three times without looking back. She would have made more trips, but she was busy running between all of the amusement rides, wanting to go on as many as possible as quick as possible. She even eagerly went on a Ferris wheel and a 2-story slide. We had expected her to need some coaxing, but each time she jumped on a ride, it seemed to heighten her excitement for trying another, bigger ride.
I have no great insights to share. I found the age perspective interesting and a good excuse to share photosâ€¦
This plane ride gives each child a cockpit stick that really raises and lowers the planes. My daughter pushed her stick wildly back and forth, causing her plane to make all sorts of gear-banging metallic noises as the plane lurched up and down. It frustrated the carnie who kept yelling instructions to our daughter (that she would never understand) each time she passed by. On her third time on the ride she finally figured out how to fly.
I was going to write something about knowing you’ve become a seasoned parent when you begin seeing Richard Scarry characters in real life. But then I looked at this photo again and am worried I’ll be scrapbooking by age 4. Go Dingo Dog! Officer Flossy is on your tail!
Step 1: Go down slide on Mom’s lap atop a potato sack.
Step 2: Go down slide, next to Mom in the adjoining lane.
Step 3: Climb up the stairs and go down the slide alone. Give your parents coronaries as they realize as you stand at the top of the slide that you’re still only 3-years-old and might try sliding face first or do something else stupid.
Of course, she was fine, but we’ll accompany her in the future. As she climbed the stairs to the slide, Mom kept cautioning her, "Hold onto the rail," and my daughter kept yelling, "No, I need to go faster." In other words, holding the railing might slow her down as she dashed up the stairs.
I hear parents of older kids say that parenting gets tougher year by year. I can’t speculate, but I do know that the third year beats the first two years hands down for sheer fun.
I’ve said before that I think we decided to have kids 10 years late. For the amount of energy and range of activities kids have, it would be nice to be doing this in my twenties and thirties instead of thirties and forties. I repeat that here now because I need a good segue into my last observation.
You know you’re getting old when you spend a sunny day at the fair and the one thing that gets sunburned is your scalp. I still have hair, or at least I thought I did.