Day 4, 2014

All of the driving, tutoring, bake sales, sports spectating and meal prep I perform for my children throughout the year all pale in comparison to the most selfless act of all. The biggest challenge every mother faces. The tour-de-force of sacrifice.

Packing up the crew and heading to the County Fair.

The fair is traditionally a smelly, sweltering, stimulus overloaded affair that I never quite get used to. But my kids love it.

Our county fair is technically an Agricultural Fair so it is divided between barn after barn of animals and the bright lights of the midway.

I digress for a moment to add that being able to pull out my “carni” lingo once a year is the highlight of the entire episode for me. Using words like “midway” and “barker” makes it all slightly more bearable.

I avoid the $10 privilege of parking in an adjacent barren field and instead opt to park illegally in an adjacent shopping center. Please do not guide me through the analysis of the towing and recovery fee versus the $10 parking fee.

I spend the entire time at the fair sweating that one out while making a mental list of friends who would be willing to rescue me and pinky swear not to tell my husband.

We hit the barns first because the Midway doesn’t open until noon when the sun peaks and all that shiny, reflective metal makes the temperature jump another 20 degrees. Which of course makes you thirsty enough to cough up $5 for a lukewarm bottle of water.

Organizers add more animals every year. Last year there were camels. This year there are grizzly bears. I am not sure how either of these species represent Maryland, let alone our county. But is logic the guiding force at the fair? No.

Strolling the barns is torture. I am assaulted by putrid smells. Smells so awful that you are afraid that if you open your mouth too wide you will actually be able to taste that smell for days. Not to mention the endless questions from the kids:

“How long do cows live?”

“Do they live longer than sheep?”

“Does one cow know that the other cow is going to pee so they can move before it starts shooting everywhere?”

Even if I knew the answers to these burning questions, I would not be able to speak and breathe through my mouth, so I say nothing. This 4-H tour is the best appetite suppressant EVER. Want to drop 10lbs for a big event? Try a little dairy barn and pig stall cocktail. Magic!

And speaking of magic, the fair reminds me of Disney in many ways. And in other ways, not so much.

It rivals Disney in the monetary category, but it is seriously lacking in fairy dust. They just have regular old dust and dirt here.

Disney has tunnels and secret doors to shield visitors from the mechanics of running the show. At the fair, the big, fat wires and cables snake across pathways and the generators hum and buzz everywhere. No mystery whatsoever.

And there are no costumed characters here, just characters who look very shady indeed.
Which brings me to the barkers. I need a moment to gather my thoughts. I mean, who are these folks?

When I pay my entrance fee at the fair it means I am literally paying for people to ignore me when I say no. To attempt to harass me into compliance. To launch a relentless barrage of requests.

I can do this at home for free all day, every day.

I thoroughly enjoy the irony of my kids noting how annoying it is to hear the barker say “Mom, come on. Mom, come on mom. It’s only a dollar, mom,” as I ignore them and shake my head. Like I don’t have to listen to the same shtick on continuous loop all summer long.

Hello pot, meet kettle. Kettle this is pot.

Our unlimited wristband means I get to stand in a sliver of shade next to the generators and wait it out as the boys go on the same rides over and over. I jockey for position with the other parents in the sparse, covered space never uttering a word; our silence a show of solidarity in this hot, gritty nightmare. The boys’ enthusiasm never wanes; oblivious to my pain as I stand in the shadow of the food trailer, melting.

Those food trailers make me want to take a shower. Or douse myself in Purell.
We stick to purchasing only non-meat products every year, hopeful that there are only so many ways you can die from eating a hot pretzel or popcorn. My life literally passes before my eyes every time I see someone purchase a half-smoke.

I picture myself like the Bionic Woman in a slow-motion sequence where I lunge at the person with the half-smoke, knock the food out of their hand and saunter away satisfied that my superpowers have saved yet another life.

But in reality all of this begs the question; why do I subject myself to this 5+ hour odyssey every summer?

Because it is tradition. We get sucked into the black hole of grime, pig races, bad food and nauseating rides because we are making memories.

And that is what we moms do.


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Magnificence in the Mundane

Finding humor in kids and chaos is the best place for your personal blog or business site.

Magnificence in the Mundane

Finding humor in kids and chaos is the best place for your personal blog or business site.

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