Saturday, August 25, 2012

county fair

this year, the kids and i did something completely different at the yolo county fair.  we bypassed the animals, the displays, even the vendors in favor of the midway.  we had been listening to jim weiss' reading of good luck duck and ander was hoping to meet the ferris man and ride the ferris wheel and meet the peanut man and get some whale-sized, elephant-sized, walrus-sized peanuts.

the midway has always freaked me out a little.  lots of noise, lights, noise, whirling things, noise, loud carnies, noise, loud music, and noise.  because of that, and the fact that neither one of my children had ever expressed any interest in doing any of the rides or the games, plus it was just way too expensive to ride anything and we definitely did not need any large stuffed anythings so we always skipped it.

we were planning to meet up with friends, though, and my children said they really, really wanted to look at the midway.  so i bought some tickets and they tried out a couple of things.  i quickly realized that i needed to get diana a wristband, thinking she would want to ride a lot more than ander.  after a short while, though, i had to get ander one, too, because he wasn't about to be left behind!


the midway still freaked me out, so we bypassed most of the crazy, loud, super twirly, scary-looking things and went to the relatively calmer, mostly-kids rides.  i was stunned by ander's willingness to try out so many different rides, but i guess i shouldn't have been surprised, given his proclivity for spinning and being way, way up high and wanting to move quickly.

this is a spinning dragon that then moves around in a circle.  i have vague recollections of being young and riding in the mad hatter teacups at king's island in ohio with my dad, who sagely guided me to stare right into the center wheel as he spun us at dizzying speeds.  i don't recall being ill afterwards, but i must have been ok, since i did it more than once.  you could not pay me to ride on something like that now.  thank goodness for a mama friend who was willing to go on this with ander.

fun for everyone on the carousel
he's always wanted to be in the driver's seat...
...and to ride a motorcycle like his dad.
he really, really likes to fly.  this was fun, but not as much as traveling by southwest airlines to visit his grandparents in ohio earlier that week.


this was diana's favorite, the "candy train"
both kids ran to do the super slide again and again, sometimes racing each other.
he rode the dragon wagon, a little roller coaster, again and again and again.  it was easily his favorite of the whole midway.  he invited children in line to come and ride with him.  (diana would not touch this one at all, despite her brother's coaxing.)  he finally got to sit in the front and knew the whole routine.  after he was buckled in, he called out, "dragon wagon man, push the button!"
lemon shaved ice.  not as many rave reviews as the vanilla ice cream with sprinkles, but at least it was a little less drippy.

cherry shaved ice.  went down with as much gusto as the chocolate ice cream earlier in the day.
there i was, expecting sensory overload from the lights and sounds and smells and heat (it was in the high 90s when we got there in the early afternoon) and nothing but sugar (lemonade, kettle corn, and root beer besides the cold treats) in our systems.  and it didn't happen, at least for the kids.

i saw things i wasn't looking for.  cooperation between brother and sister so they could both be where they wanted to on a ride and having competitions ending in smiles.  diana's gentle treatment of and willing participation with a friend's younger sibling, allowing that child to feel comfortable going on a ride without her mom.  ander's friendly invitations towards one of his friends to join him on the all the things he liked, giving her space and making sure she could enjoy herself, too.  diana's bravery in trying out the bumper cars, bolstered by the presence of her enthusiastic and supportive friends.

i wasn't looking for any of that, but i am glad i was open to the possibilities of seeing the growing independence and confidence of each of my children.  they got to do what interested them, i got to take pictures and watch their excited faces.

i have not experienced a fair in this way before.  i did not attend fairs growing up, and when i was an adult, attending the ohio state fair with my mom, we looked at the midway with a shared expression of a lack of desire for any of that and more than a hint of concern for the safety of those crazy contraptions.  instead, we watched cooking demonstrations, oohed and aahed over the impressive handiwork of needlework, eagerly anticipated the butter sculptures, ate our way through monster bowls of ice cream and hot, buttered, roasted corn on the cob, marveled at the variety of deep-fried-things-on-a-stick one could get, poured over the vendor tables, and admired the showmanship of the kids with all their animals: cows, sheep, pigs, fowl, horses, and rabbits.  when diana was very young and rode around in the stroller, i took her with me and my mom and we took in lumberjack demonstrations, displays of all kinds of produce, the livestock nursery (especially those darling little piglets all nursing happily with mama sow) and countless other things that escape my memory.

i did enjoy the sugar aspect with the kids, but i missed seeing everything else the fair has to offer besides the midway.  the grotesque vegetable competition.  the flower garden displays.  even the vendor booths.

then again, who's to say that it will be like this next time we go to a fair?  we didn't after all, ride a ferris wheel, though there were three, and we didn't find any peanuts.  so i guess we haven't done it all.  there will be new things to explore and the kids will probably have new interests.  sometime in the future they might even want to be involved in entering or showing their work for display and judging.

i am happyer at home because it is at home that i am more open to the possibilities of what can be.

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