My favorite thing about parenting is getting up at 4:45. Without Thing 2, Hubs and I would never know the joys of having coffee at 5 AM, as we mumble to one another and slowly blink, over and over, and try to convince ourselves that seeing the sunrise was a daily occurrence to our hard-working, ranching ancestors.
My other favorite thing about parenting is spraying a kid down with sunscreen and heading out to the carnival. There’s just nothing quite like walking around a dirty, gravel, oversized parking lot when the carnival is in town, when it’s 204 degrees outside… with a hot crosswind. The fact that the rides themselves are covered in gunk and stink and maybe even salmonella, and that a bottle of water will set you back $17, while sweat literally drips down your spine and lands in your Hanes, is really just the icing on the Tilt-A-Whirl cake.
Hubs and I have had both of these parenting pleasures in the past twenty-four hours.
And yes! The carnival has come to Small Town, USA for the weekend. Hubs and I agree that every child deserves the joy that comes when their parents drop down the equivalent of a month’s mortgage at the ticket booth, for a bracelet that entitles the wearer to have unlimited access to every ride featured. They deserve to walk through the cloud of dust that is kicked up by 60,000 pairs of feet (never mind that Small Town’s population is less than one-third of how many folks show up at the carnival). Every child deserves to have the dust of that giant cloud settle onto their sweaty bodies like a blanket, as they screech and cheer their way through the rides with the wheezing hydraulics.
Our family met a couple of Thing 2’s good buddies at the carnival last night. I thought I was going to have to pawn my wedding ring to buy a bracelet for all the rides, but somehow we managed to scrape enough dollar bills together. The attendant in the ticket booth slapped those bracelets on our group of little people, and they were off, heading for the rides, at an all-out RUN.
These three hooligans dedicated their bracelets to exactly one attraction at the carnival, for nearly the first thirty minutes we were there. It was a giant obstacle course… Indiana Jones style. The kids had to climb rope ladders, wiggle through barriers and walk across a rickety bridge, suspend two million feet in the air, as they envisioned it crossing a canyon filled with poisonous snakes and alligators that they certainly didn’t want to fall into, before they reached the slide. The slide was their ticket out of the maze. It was sixty feet of blue plastic bliss, inside a clear plastic tube that funneled the sun’s hottest rays into a temperature that was capable of blackening a good prime rib and melting cars.
The parents looked on with joy. All that climbing and baking was destined to pay off in gold bars, in the form of a good night’s sleep.
Plus? Well, the obstacle course was tall enough to block the sun. The moms were reluctant to leave the shade, so we were as content as our children were, as they worked their way through the maze… eighty-seven different times.
Eventually, though, the maze gave way for other rides.
Helicopters are Thing 2’s dream vehicle, right next to monster trucks, combines and military tanks bedecked with giant guns. The boys scrambled into the helicopter marked POLICE. They were ready to patrol the skies.
It looks like SOMEONE got tired of hearing the boys behind her yell, “Hey, little lady! Land your chopper now! THIS IS THE POLICE!! We order you to land your chopper on the ground right now, before we arrest you!!” Thing 2’s adorable friend, Evie, clamped her hands over her ears, in the middle of her ride.
Actually, I think precious little Evie was a bit overwhelmed by the squealing hydraulics on her rescue helicopter, which made her cover her ears up tight. The squeals were bad enough that I was ready to start bleeding some lines and checking fluid levels myself.
I tried to get another snapshot of our group halfway through the carnival last night, and I was met with a touch of resistance.
“I’m too hot for a picture! It’s too bright for a picture! I just want to keep MOVING, Ma! The lines are growing longer by the second! Ain’t nobody got time for a group photo right now!”
We had a couple of Navy SEALS with us, who stood quietly behind us, offering their protection from the crowds and contaminated corn dogs. They even bought $17 bottles of water when our troops felt like they were going to drop from dehydration. Hubs and the boy trailed us moms, exactly like they were with the Secret Service.
The boy has inherited the strand of my DNA that shouts out, “PUKING WILL BEGIN AS SOON AS THE RIDE BEGINS.” The poor kid can no longer ride any carnival rides without getting sick… exactly like his mama.
Thankfully, he was very content to hang out with his family and watch his little brother ride everything, as our little Thing 2 could be spun around in a circle, 3,000 feet off the ground, by his ankles, and exit the ride, only to ask, “Can we get some fried bread, dusted with powdered sugar, a fried Twinkie AND an order of fried cookie dough?”
A pink horse was a deal breaker for him.
Thankfully, the boys found a couple of “boy horses” (as they called them), while Evie was searching for a unicorn, covered in pink glitter and sparkles.
Sometimes I feel like I’ve missed out on all the fun GIRLY STUFF by just having boys. It’s so refreshing to be in the company of a little girl who enjoys ALL THE PINK THINGS!
Our little people LOVED the cars, and I had to hand it to the ride’s engineers — it was designed with a steering wheel for every seat, on every vehicle, which was a CARNIVAL WIN. There is really no fury quite like the fury of a kid who didn’t get a steering wheel to crank back and forth during the ride.
The giant slide… which was tall enough that Thing 2 actually asked, “Does this slide reach clear to Heaven?”… was a big hit with the boys. Because it made the Empire State Building look short, Evie was a bit nervous about it.
She seems to possess a level of common sense, in regards to safety, that the little guys seem not to have. She was quite content to sit the slide out, while the boys tackled it together, over and over… and OVER AGAIN, until SURELY their calves must’ve ached with how many times they climbed the endless set of stairs. Evie hung out in the shade with us, watching the boys, while she sipped a bottle of ice water.
They laughed until their sides hurt, and their grins radiated nothing but pure joy and contentment, with the thrill of being at the carnival together. Jesus has come through for us with precious friends for our little man.
Thing 2 enjoyed the carnival with his friends so much, he was up at 4:45 this morning, asking when it would be time to go again.
For mornings like that… there is coffee!