Friday, June 27th, 2008
Taking Toddlers to the Fair, Vol. 2
A perk of having a non-conformist baby blog is the ability to show photos of your kids as if it were a personal blog being read only by a grandmother.
Today I recap our visit to an annual county-like non-county fair attended by my 4-year-old daughter (Little Miss), her 3-year-old male escort (I’ll call him Luke because he can’t stop humming the theme to Star Wars), my wife, our 3-month-old boy and myself.
Luke gained a sister a few days earlier, so this was an opportunity for his parents to spend some time bonding with their newborn without a toddler running around.
This recap is a summary I e-mailed Luke’s parents when I sent them photos from the day.
1. Everyone goes through the turnstile. Luke and Little Miss walk under the turnstile.
2. Our plan is to visit the 4-H farm animals first, but Little Miss pulls us to the amusement ride area. [Luke's parents advised us that his only fair ride experience was a merry-go-round and it didn't go well. Luke doesn't enjoy rides.]
We look at the rides and decide how “we” (e.g., Luke) feel about them before buying tickets. Does the car ride look fun? Yes. Do you want to try it? Yes. Okay.
3. Luke enjoys the car ride sitting next to Little Miss, driving slowly in a circle on a flat surface with a steering wheel that does absolutely nothing. Halfway through the ride Luke looks bored. “Why is this supposed to be fun? Hey, all of the kids except my co-pilot are bored. But I’ll tell my chaperones it was fun anyway.”
4. Next up is a World War I biplane ride where the planes move up and down at the behest of each toddler who pushes his own cockpit stick. Luke agrees to fly and enjoys himself until he realizes the ride is not historically accurate.
He doesn’t cry, but a disgruntled look sweeps across his face as if someone has just told him Darth really is his father. We decide to abandon the rides.
5. Let’s go play in the building that has giant kaleidoscopes, but get sidetracked by the reptile area containing scary things in aquariums. “Mom and Dad will never believe I touched a real live alligator. It was bumpy!”
He didn’t want anything to do with that gator, then was the proudest little guy when he touched it for half a second.
6. Outside, we sit and watch a breakdancing presentation that lasts all of 10 minutes. We scoot close together on the bench to make room for Clara Peller and Estelle Getty, big fans of the hip and the hop you know.
7. Look! Balloon Man! Oh, but his line is too long.
8. All aboard for the tractor redesigned as a train engine tram ride. Whoo, it’s like visiting the San Diego Zoo Wild Animal Park, only slower and without wild animals. We sit on benches in viewing cars. Look! Buildings! Dirt! More buildings! The main attraction is a pair of speed bumps on the unused back-half of the fairgrounds.
9. Let’s hunt for Balloon Man! Where is he?
10. Luke pulls us over to what turns out to be the end of a Pinocchio marionette show. He and Little Miss sit down for a chance to meet Pinocchio. Most of the kids hug Pinocchio and some of them kiss him full on the lips. What?! It must have been a great show.
“I don’t think I want you touching me after all you strange little man.”
Luke is feeling a little tired right about now because he is well past his afternoon nap time.
11. We find Balloon Man. “We want dog hats!”
12. Woman: “Hi. You don’t know me, but I know you from your blog. I mean, I recognize your daughter. I’m not creepy or anything. Oh, and your wife was my labor and delivery nurse.”
My wife: “I’m sorry, I didn’t recognize you with your clothes on.”
Okay, that might have been conversations with two different women, but you get the idea. Small town.
13. A preschool friend we run into near Balloon Man wants to go on the dragon roller coaster ride (a toddler ride). Luke lets go of my hand and rushes through the gate to be with the girls.
Uh oh. Grimacing on the first turn isn’t a good sign. The kid isn’t happy. The carnie stops the ride and all three disembark early. For comparison, look at fair photos of Little Miss at 2- and 3-years-old on the same ride.
14. Let’s do something more sedate. Wow, full-size wooden horse sculptures. A metal dinosaur. Great googly moogly, a giant train set! We could stand and watch trains for hours and hours as evidenced by the skeletal remains littering the train yard.
15. Let’s stand behind this window and watch cows being milked by machine. Look, a farmer spraying poop off their legs. I am never drinking milk again.
16. Let’s go in the 4-H barn to see the animals. Uh oh, cows not separated by a window pane are scary.
17. Hey, a building filled with quilts. We fill out ballots to vote on our favorite designs. Luke’s favorite quilt is whichever one he looked at last. A single lucky quilter is going to win $25. That’s a play on words. Who marries a quilter?
18. Uh oh, a bicycling orangutan is coming our way. The kids cautiously approach him, and he begins conversing with the kids.
Luke becomes visibly confused when the orangutan calls him Charlie (orangutans call all kids Charlie) and points out that Luke doesn’t have a beard like his dad. (See, that’s not funny unless you know I, AJ, have a beard and Luke’s dad does not.)
The orangutan starts bicycling away as Luke tries to correct the confused primate.
Nearby, a woman wearing sunglasses completes the longest sip in recorded history from a long straw in a nondescript soda cup while talking without moving her lips.
19. “We don’t want dog hats anymore. You grown-ups can carry them.”
20. “Let’s sit and watch “Moo Man” and his dummy tell family-friendly jokes that go over our little heads. We don’t mind because Moo Man has his hand jammed up the bum of a grumpy old puppet. What’s a proctologist?”
21. Oops, we’re late getting back home.
22. Luke’s mom calls to politely inquire about our whereabouts because we are an hour past due. My wife draws out the conversation without answering the question until we are in the driveway.
23. Little Miss teaches Luke a fun new game. “When it’s time to go, hide so they can’t find you.” No, really, she actually said that.
That’s it folks. My surprise of the day was the notion that the tamest toddler rides can be scary to a toddler. Fear of creatures in the reptile exhibit was also interesting.
We have another young friend who is deathly afraid of our tabby cats and won’t step foot in our house if one is visible. When I see these differences I wonder how my daughter’s experiences and exposure to things has differed from that of her friends.
And now a gratuitous photo of my 3-month-old boy wearing an outfit I wore as a baby. The bottom half has a permanent vinyl cover. It’s hot as heck.
He’s turning out to be one chubby little dude, the exact opposite of our Little Miss at this age.
See previously: Taking a Toddler to the Fair, Vol. 1