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Tuesday, December 6, 2011

I'm Just Glad it's Over...

Just watching my four-year-old son going in and out of the fun house was making my already exhausted and beat up body more tired by the minute, if that’s possible, after five hours of walking around my kids’ school fair.

He went in six, seven and eight times back to back; around several gates, up a rope ladder, over a bridge, down a slide and through several punching bags, out and back in.

Each time he lifted his long sleeve shirt and showed the attendant his fuchsia colored bracelet that let it be known that he could ride as many times as he wanted (courtesy of mom and dad's $45 check per child), sort of, like a just-minted 21-year-old showing off his legal i.d. for the first time at bars (in my day it was 18).

Last weekend, my wife, kids and I spent most of it at our parish and childrens' school's yearly fund raising carnival, which many parents dread (although you can't see, I'm raising my hand), but our kids start looking forward to from the time it ends on Sunday night one year until the time it starts the next.

The Drop
The anticipation grows even stronger when they see the carnival workers installing the fair rides and games in the school yard the week prior to the event and my kids (my daughters) start talking about all the rides they are planning to go on; like the G-Force, the Ali-Baba, the Pharaoh’s Ferry and grand daddy of them all; The Drop, which my wife ended up riding with the girls.

For the younger kids, like my son and seven-year-old daughter, it’s all about the rides and hanging out with their classmates.

But, for the older kids, like my soon-to-be eleven-year-old daughter, it’s about the independence. It’s an opportunity to hang out with their friends without their parents’ constant gaze (although with my wife and my friends throughout the schoolyard, there is always a parental eye on all the kids).

For me, it’s three nights and two days (although, this year, we missed Friday night due to our daughters’ Christmas ballet recital) of chasing my son around the school yard to the same few rides (that he can actually get on) for hours on end, trying to keep him away from the carnival games and ignoring the carnival workers that try to lure you into spending money for ridiculous looking stuffed animals (or gold fish), unceasingly looking for my wife and the girls, eating more than I should (which, in all honesty, I do anyway; with or without a fair), spending time with friends, although in spurts, since, with a rambunctious 4-year-old, who doesn’t want to stop, it can be difficult, and even volunteering to wash dishes in the kitchen (the only thing I can really do since I’ll never be confused for Emeril Lagasse with a spatula in my hand).  It is non-stop.

Fun times down the slide
On Saturday, we got there at 5pm and we walked around the same circle of rides, probably about 300 yards, about a gazillion times (almost as many times as my son went into the two different fun houses, went down the slide, rode the carousel, kiddy cars, a spinning alligator and kiddy roller coaster, until about 10pm. Even I got into the action, when he asked me to ride with him on the bumper cars.

Meanwhile, our oldest daughter started spreading her wings.

At one point, she goes by my wife and me and pretends not to see us, as she turned and looked the other way so that we don’t tell her anything while she’s with her friends.

She was with her BFF and, at one point, was being watched by her friend's 18-year-old cousin, who was with her boyfriend, which I wasn't too keen on. Then again, as my wife says, at some point, I have to start letting go of the leash; although I was hoping to begin when she started college (anyway, I want to be close enough to yank the leash from time to time!).

On Sunday, we went to morning Mass, as we usually do at 9am, went to breakfast and then dropped off my wife at the fair. She had to be there by 11:30am for her shift as a volunteer at the First Grade booth, which sold soft drinks and water.

I went with the kids to put away the Christmas decoration boxes in storage and was back at the fair by 1pm and the games began.  We were there until 7pm.

In other words, no Dolphins football game (I'm a Redskins fan but you get my point), no relaxing at home, no trip to Target or Home Depot, no Christmas shopping, not even any alcohol (although some parents smuggled in their own contraband libations). Talk about sacrifice!  Maybe, I'll be compensated in the afterlife. 

After over eleven hours of fair, umpteen temper tantrums (my kids, not me), ice-cream all over the face (my kids and me) and absolutely no money left in our pockets, I’m sure, like most parents of our parish community, I'm just glad it's over.

Then again, considering it's the biggest fund raiser of the year for our church and school, and my son is in Pre-K, I only have nine more years to go.  Woo-hoo!  And to think, my wife always says I'm just looking at the negative!...

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