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.

Photo of Little Miss and Luke in a small sports car sitting side by side. He is smiling. She is checking out the car.

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.

“If I’m Captain Brown, why is Richthofen flying a biplane instead of a triplane? Oh, and I forgot, I’m afraid of heights!”

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.

Photo of Luke and Little Miss on the biplane ride. Luke is visibly non-plussed.

Photo of Luke and Little Miss on the biplane ride with the plane raised to its upper height. Luke is visibly concerned as he looks at the ground.

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.

Photo of Luke sitting next to a Pinocchio who is leaning toward him. Luke doesn't know quite what to think.

“I don’t think I want you touching me after all you strange little man.”

Photo of Little Miss and Luke sitting, smiling and posing with Pinocchio.

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!”

Photo of Luke with a big smile as he dons his balloon hat. One balloon is the hat frame holding a second wiener dog balloon above his head.

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.

Close-up photo of Luke and Little Miss on the dragon ride as it starts its descent. Luke is concerned and holding on for dear life. Little Miss is having the time of her life.

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.

Photo of Luke and Little Miss peering over a clear fiberglass wall looking at a model train pass by.

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.

Photo shot above the shoulder of the orangutan looking at Luke and Little Miss' skeptical faces. They are holding hands.

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.

Photo of Luke and Little Miss standing next to the orangutan and Luke is visibly confused by the orangutan.

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.

Three photos of my baby boy smiling.

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


10 Responses to “Taking Toddlers to the Fair, Vol. 2”

  1. Nancy says:

    My boy, about to turn 5 next month, has loved rides throughout his short little life. I remember him being extremely disappointed at age 3 when he couldn’t go on certain rides at the fair because he was not tall enough. When we go to the local Six Flags, he begs to go on the adult roller coasters. We go to fairs on wristband days because he will ride the rides as many times as humanly possible.

    But we have friends who have kids don’t like rides that much. Going to fairs and such with them are not as fun for my son, because they don’t want to go on every ride like he does.

    I think some of this is genetic – my husband and I are both big coaster enthusiasts, so we’ve encouraged him to go on rides since he could walk. My friends, or at least the husband of the pair, are not so into the rides.

    We try to expose our kids to as much as possible so they’re not afraid of things. I’d much rather have the kid who chases the cat than the one who won’t step foot in the house with one.

    June 27th, 2008 at 11:55 am

  2. anastasiav says:

    Exposure can help, but for some kids certain fears seem to just be innate. My son is terrified of water in all forms (he’ll cling to me like a baby monkey if we walk past a fountain, for example), and has been since he was a tiny, tiny baby. He screams and screams if we put him in the tub.

    Its only been very recently that we’ve started to condition him out of this fear.

    June 27th, 2008 at 12:18 pm

  3. Dani says:

    Our son is interesting when it comes to rides. he’s 2 1/2. He needs to watch them a few times before he’ll commit to going on it. Then he’ll ride around with the most bored expression ever before declaring that he loves it and never wants off.

    He is however, completely terrified of bouncy houses and other blown up toys. We of course learned this after buying him one for Christmas. It was his therapists suggestion to help work on his jumping but he refuses to go anywhere near it. Who knew?

    June 27th, 2008 at 12:29 pm

  4. Jennifer says:

    Your daughter looks absolutly beautiful in the picture on the plane. I loved all the pictures. It looks like everyone had a fabulous time. Thanks for sharing.

    June 27th, 2008 at 1:32 pm

  5. paul tozier says:

    After the fair last year you posted photos of Little Miss at the 2006 fair and the 2007 fair as a comparison. Please to be doing the same for this year!

    June 27th, 2008 at 1:58 pm

  6. PsychMamma says:

    My favorite pic is the one where they’re listening to the talking monkey on the bike. Luke appears to be gripping your daughter’s hand and seems very, very concerned. Your daughter looks somewhat playful and like she’s ready to strike up a conversation with the furry guy! It all looked like fun! Thanks for sharing the pics and fabulous commentary!


    June 28th, 2008 at 5:39 am

  7. Midge says:

    Great photos! We went to the fair two days this week. One day, my 4 y.o., 2 month old and I went on our own. The second day, we were joined by friends who have a 4 y.o. daughter also. The second day was much more fun as the girls ran from ride to ride getting on as many rides as possible. Things are so much more fun with friends than with mom and brother!

    I’ve seen your wife and daughter around also, recognizing your daughter from the blog, but never approached them. What’s your preference on this? Privacy or “Hi blog-man!” ??

    Thanks for sharing your day at the fair.

    June 28th, 2008 at 10:43 am

  8. Pippin says:

    Where does one find/rent/buy a bicycle-riding orangutan?

    June 29th, 2008 at 1:34 pm

  9. Jessica G. says:

    Our daughter screamed in a tortured voice when we tried to get her on a carousel at the mall (age 2), fast forward two years and she was screaming “again!” at Disney World … for Pirates of the Caribbean. My little thrill seeker. She was also very outgoing and personable up through age 2. Is now more shy and reserved. There are no books for these parenting adventures!

    June 30th, 2008 at 8:27 am

  10. LiteralDan says:

    Great, now I won’t be able to stop humming the theme to Star Wars.

    And it’s funny there was a set of pictures with a puppet, because in Luke’s intro photo, I was thinking he looked a lot like a mannequin or, more specifically, “My Buddy”, that old doll-for-boys they used to have ads for all the time in the 80s.

    (Don’t worry, Luke’s parents, he looks fine and cute, etc. in all the other pictures.)

    June 30th, 2008 at 11:36 pm