Good Grandma Finds the Fair
How old are you and do you still love the fair? I have fond memories, so when my daughter asked me to babysit, and said, “They would love to go to the fair.” I couldn’t help but get all warm and fuzzy inside just thinking of a corn dog in my hand while strolling lazily down the boardwalk.
Thoughts of cool fall days in western Maine came to mind: early release from school, cotton candy, candied apples, and other yummy treats flooded my mind.
But Florida is hot and kids get tired. Granny is old. But as you know if you’ve read any of my blogs, I can’t say no to my daughter.
Bolting out of bed that morning, the kids asked instantly, “When is the fair? How much longer?”
I had to physically stretch my eyelids to make it to the kitchen for a cup of coffee. It was early. The fair opened at 1pm. They glared at me as I prepared the warm liquid. I prayed for silence, a quiet moment to collect my thoughts.
I had forgotten to write down the plan the day before. That was a mistake.
“You’re not going to take hours to drink your coffee are you, Granny? My Nana drinks hers really fast. Why can’t you?” I wanted to kiss the person who invented Saturday morning cartoons. If they had been alive right then, I would have sent a thank-you email.
Holding my hand up like I was directing traffic, I said, “Granny has to think, and coffee helps with that. It’s good for the brain.”
Thirty minutes later four eyes gunned me down as I was trying to enjoy the birds from my back porch. “How much longer? We’re hungry.”
I wondered if it was time for a cup of soothing Chamomile tea. Maybe coffee was the wrong avenue at this point. I was very awake.
With breakfast finished, I suggested we run a few errands and hit the Library. Brilliant idea, but they weren’t taking the bait. Nothing I thought of seemed a good idea to them. As they whined, I had to check my surroundings and pinch myself because I was sure they were in the backseat of the car asking how much longer, and I was really driving across country … but that wasn’t the case at all.
By 1pm, we were all still alive and had made it to the fair. Parking was a little stressful. I made sure to have the kids scan our surroundings and memorize where I parked. If not, I would probably end up wandering through the parking lot in the dark willing to swear under oath that someone had stolen my car.
I’m not crazy, just aging. Memory is the first thing that goes; slowly at first, just so you don’t see it coming. Then wham! One day you suddenly realize everything must be written down. Even simple things like where you left your coffee cup, your keys, or eyeglasses. Sunglasses count too.
When the grandkids come over it’s a blessing because for a couple of days you don’t have to be your own secretary. They remember everything for you. And when you forget where you’re driving to. They remind you from the back seat.
I felt proud of myself when the fair attendant slipped the armbands on the two darling children. What a savings. I planned to leisurely sit and sip my cool water while waiting for them to ride again and again. A brilliant gift to them of fun and excitement. A gift of quiet solitude for myself as they enjoyed the rides. Convinced in that moment that they would have memories of good granny spoiling them rotten and allowing them to stay at the fair until closing time.
Who could top that?
Of course, I didn’t ride anything. Vomiting wasn’t on my list of fun things to do that weekend. I had another night with these kiddos, and I needed my strength. But despite my good intentions, the bickering began.
“I’m not going on that baby ride," The older one said to the younger.
“Well, I can’t get on that ride. It’s too scary,” said the little one.
There were no tables, no chairs, no shade. It was hot. Terribly hot. After three trips around the midway, I wanted to strangle the workers tucked inside the game booths. They wouldn’t stop begging us to play the games. Hadn’t they heard the word no on that last five trips we’d made past them?
I had fantasized in how I would strangle them while the kids were on the rides, but there were cops everywhere.
“Avoid eye contact,” I’d told the kids. “Look away.” I tried to have nerves of steel, but nothing was working. Finally, we just couldn’t pass the candy apple booth anymore. We made ourselves turn around. We knew they were waiting just beyond the electrical lines next to the Ferris wheel.
Waiting to draw us into the money pit where nothing was gained but yet another thing to carry.
I was exhausted, thirsty, and wanted to sit down but I couldn’t let the children see me weaken. Bad things happen when grandkids see weakness. Stoic, I walked on, encouraging them to ride everything over and over.
We had the armbands. Fun was never ending when you had the armbands.
After 2 ½ hours both kids started to whine. “I’m thirsty. It’s hot. I don’t want to ride anymore. I want to go home.”
I could feel the veins popping out of my neck as I tried to reassure them. In my happy voice, I said, “But it’s so early and there isn’t anyone here. There's no waiting. You can ride everything. Let’s go. How about the go-carts?”
They whined and argued and slumped their shoulders as I prodded them onto yet another ride until I met with defiant resistance. Shuddering at the thought that we wouldn’t make it to five o’clock or onto anymore rides, I gave them one gallant glimpse into the fun they could still have. “What about the tilt-a-whirl?”
Who doesn’t like the tilt-a-whirl? Grandmothers, don’t. I can tell you that. But they were young and invincible. One day they would know what that ride did to the stomach and the brain.
Making no progress with my happy grandma face, I finally lost it. “Get on that ride right now.” Feeling overtaken by an entity of some kind, I thrust my arm toward the tilt-a-whirl. “You’ve got armbands. We’re here. It’s kind of free.” Didn’t they understand how illogical it was to walk away from anything free? It was still daylight.
They didn’t understand at all. They begged, pleaded, and I finally gave in.
Defeated, we made our way to the exit.
Thankfully, the eldest found my car and we made it home. He also reminded me I was wearing my glasses and laughed as he said, “No need to keep looking, Granny.”
Humbled, I realized the fair isn’t what it used to be when I was younger. The zipper looks deadly, the Ferris Wheel chilling, and the corn dogs seem much smaller than they used to be.
I’m so glad the fair only comes once a year. That gives me time to forget how hot it is out there, even though it’s February.
Oh, yeah. That’s right. I live in Florida.
I’d love to hear how your last trip to the fair went with the kiddos.