There I was, just a grown woman, all by herself in the petting zoo barn, feeding foul-smelling pellets in an ice cream cone to a bunch of ill-mannered goats.
I should have known then. We had only been on the fairgrounds for ten minutes at most, but I should have given up, gathered the troops, and taken them home to shlump on the couch reading The Very Hungry Caterpillar for the millionth time like they probably would have preferred. But I didn’t. Because goddamn it, it was Saturday. It was early fall. The sun was shining. It was time to have some good old-fashioned family fun, and like it or not, our kids were going to The Fair.
What kind of kids, I ask you, don’t like going to a fair? What’s not to like, when you’re two-and-a-half years old, about seeing farm animals, eating fries, and riding a carousel? How is that ever not awesome?
Well, my kids have been more than a little…how do I say this…touchy? sensitive? downright bitchy? Whatever you want to call it, that’s how they’ve been lately. Full of attiTUDE. And the trickiest part is that you just never know what’s going to set them off. You think you’re doing something fun with them, just trying to show them a good time, have a nice moment together, and you get this:
Daddy (on the walk home from the playground one day): That was fun, huh? Going to the playground together?
Captain Chaos (doing her caveman scowl): No talk about it. No say “fun,” Daddy. NO.
Then later, on the same walk that is now taking FOREVERRRR:
Daddy (to Captain Chaos) (who has insisted on pulling the wagon home instead of riding in it and has been moving so slowly that she’s practically gone back in time) (oh and she’s now stopped in the middle of the street): We need to get across the street. I need you to walk.
Captain Chaos (who, as does The Enforcer, says “my” to mean “I” or “me”): My AM WALKING.
Daddy: Okay well I need you to walk faster.
Chaos: OKAY! (She whips the wagon across the street and then glares up at him, her ponytail sagging and Minnie Mouse sunglasses sliding down her nose) There! My go faster! Ugh!
What. The. Fuck.
So ANYWAY, the fair.
I thought that the petting farm/zoo/barn thing would be the most fun for them since we’d been talking up the animal viewing part of the fair quite a bit. So we went there first. From their reaction at just the doorway of the barn, you would have thought that the pens were filled with these:
Instead of these:
As in, crying, clinging, and generally causing a ridiculous scene that earned their parents some seriously judgy looks from the other parents. Those other parents had kids who were oohing and ahhing and petting and feeding like normal children do in a barn full of baby freaking bunnies.
There was a guy who looked like he was born without a sense of humor perched on a stool and selling food pellets in ice cream cones for feeding the animals. Mainly the goats. The goats acted like they hadn’t eaten in months and would literally trample one another to death for a taste of those pellets.
I thought maybe if I bought some of the stupid pellets and fed them to the stupid goats, the girls would feel more comfortable and want to try it themselves.
It didn’t work.
They kept on freaking out and begged to be taken out of the cool, dark barn and into the dusty, merciless sun.
While I was left feeding goats, by myself.
After I gave away all of my pellets to the smallest, most trampled-on looking goat, we decided that we deserved some fries. It took a crazy amount of bribing and deal-making to get my grumpy toddlers just to move their bodies in the direction of a fry vendor’s booth. They wouldn’t ride in the wagon anymore. I guess that since that wagon tried to wheel them right up into the Scary Barn of Death, it was not to be trusted.
So we made our way to the fry place only because Chaos got to pull the wagon and we promised to buy them balloons. I really thought it would be easy to buy a kid a balloon at the fair. I mean, that’s a thing right? I seem to remember always getting a balloon at the fair when I was a kid. Turns out that now, instead of balloons, they sell cheapo stuffed animals that are all displayed at two-year-old eye level. They had balloons too, but not normal balloons. I was prepared to get them cool Mylar ones or whatever that shiny shit’s called, but all they had were horrible, misshapen unicorns and giant Spiderman thingies. Quite frankly, they looked a hell of a lot more like blow-up dolls for fetishists than balloons for children. So we had to buy them gross stuffed animals from a completely untrustworthy-looking
swindler salesperson. I tried not to think about it too much when The Enforcer cuddled her dusty fake Care Bear up to her face. Ick.
Once they had new stuffed animals, The Enforcer perked up a bit, but Captain Chaos? Still unimpressed. With the fair, with her parents, with life in general. Is it possible to pull a wagon passive-aggresively? Because that’s what she did. She stomped along with it. She scowled. She only uttered one-word responses to us when it was absolutely necessary.
We eventually ate fries, but it wasn’t as satisfying as I’d hoped it would be. Even covered in salt and vinegar, they tasted a little like crushed hopes. Oh and dust. Did I mention the dust?
The girls liked the fries though, and they managed to choke down some chicken fingers and fudge too, so I was hopeful that with tummies full of tasty junk food, they would cheer up and have fun on the carousel.
When will I ever learn?
Our friends who have regular kids who like baby animals and fair rides, met us there. They popped their fair-loving little darlings up onto the painted ponies. Of course, despite everyone else’s enthusiasm, my girls weren’t having any of it. They refused to get on the carousel. We stood there like idiots, waving to our friends and their kids every time they came around while our daughters glared sullenly at a trash can.
That was it. I was done. I wanted to go look at the displays of enormous pumpkins. I wanted to buy homemade soap from some earnest-looking beekeepers or something. I wanted to eat a huge plate of fried fat (I know that sounds redundant, but it’s a good kind of redundancy, you know?) covered in sugar. But more than any of those things, I wanted to get away from the scowly little fun-suckers that my daughters had turned into. In order to do that, we had to take them home and
force them to take lovingly lay them down for naps. I figured they’d be cranky and horrible for a few minutes once we got home but then they’d take a nap.
Instead, when we got home, they were dead-set on one thing. They wanted to fucking finger paint. Really?!? REALLY? After dealing with their ridiculousness all afternoon I now had to supervise FINGER PAINTING WITH TWO-YEAR-OLDS?
So, what choice did I have? I put them in my old t-shirts and let them make a giant mess. And they still weren’t happy. They acted like they were being made to finger paint.
And I did the only logical thing I could do at that point. I opened the fridge, found Mike’s Hard Margaritas for the Hubs and me, and used them as mixers for vodka.
Can’t wait for the fair to come around next year. Can’t freaking wait.