Have you ever seen that circus act where the clowns stuff themselves into a Volkswagen and everyone marvels in amazement and wonders, “Just how many clowns can they fit into that little car?” Well, you would be wondering the same thing about The Snoodles this weekend. “How in the world did they pack so much fun into one little weekend?” Now you’re probably wondering, “Surely, Wordy Van Wordsternson won’t give us another epic blog. We’re still trying to recover from the Patriots’ Day/Boston Marathon saga!” I hear you, I hear you. I know you can only handle your entertainment in fun size bites (and now I’m craving chocolate…I wonder if we have any of those Easter Snickers bites left…) so I’ll break it up into more manageable pieces.
Let’s start with Friday. K and I thought it would be great fun to take the kids on a Duck Tour. It was an amazingly beautiful day and we wanted to spend it outdoors. The Duck boats seemed like a great idea to us, but when we presented our idea to the Littles you would have thought we were inviting the kids to get family root canals. The Ducksters think highly of their tours, and I’m sure they’re worth every penny, but K and I decided not to risk forced fun with surly children. You see, the Littles already had an idea of what they thought would be a fun Friday adventure. A few days ago, we drove by one of the local churches and discovered that they had crammed every single piece of traveling amusement park equipment ever manufactured into their parking lot. I thought at first that they were using the parking lot as a staging area and would spread the attractions over both of their parking lots. Nope. They were finished. We drove by at night when all the neon lights were blinking on and off, screaming, “Hey, kids! Come on over! If your parents say, ‘Not right now,’ don’t give up! Work this parking lot into every conversation until their eyes start twitching. Pester them until they cry. You can do it, kids!”
So, Friday afternoon we headed to Parking Lot Land, a low-budget Wally World. As K was buying our tickets, I started thinking about every news story I’d ever heard where a kid loses a limb or his life at a traveling amusement park. I was pretty sure they all happened in little towns in the northeast just like this one. I wondered if we’d have time to call my parents before they saw the news of our demise on the CNN news crawl. Of course, it’s hard to call when you’re dead, but anyway…I started inspecting screws and bolts on the rides as we passed by. I wondered who would play me in the made-for-TV movie based on the tragedy.
First stop at Parking Lot Fair? Food! I love some good carnival food. I had been adding our expenses for our afternoon thus far: admission into the parking lot, Family “Value” Ticket plan, and now dinner. At this point I decided to stop my mental math. Way too many numbers to carry. Plus we were fast approaching the admission cost to Disney World. Hmm…better just to enjoy the day and make it a Visa moment. Time spent with the family? Priceless. Apparently so.
Here’s the fam enjoying their bacon-wrapped filet mignon corn dogs and water from Holy Grail cold beverages:
Next, it was off to the rides. The Littles took turns selecting attractions. For a few of the rides, Princess Diva and Baby Boy rode alone and Firstborn decided to save his pick for something a little more adventurous. Here are Princess Diva and Baby Boy on the “Crazy Bus.” What was crazy about it? Well, after going in a circle clockwise, that deranged and insane contraption started going around COUNTERCLOCKWISE!! I know!! Oh well, they enjoyed it.
Firstborn’s favorite? The bumper cars! Note the intense look of determination:
This was definitely his all-time favorite ride of the day.
I’m a little concerned about what’s going to happen to our insurance rates in about seven or eight years.
Besides the bumper cars for the Firstborn, want to know what they loved the most? The little playground with the ball pit. I had to finally just walk away from the ball pit because in it are some of my deepest fears as a mother. Remember the stories they tell all new moms about the ball pits? The cesspool of disease and filth and vileness that is this little contained area of plastic spheres? The horrors of the friend who knew someone whose neighbor’s cousin contracted a deadly illness from a dirty hypodermic needle hidden among the balls and then was bitten by the brood of vipers that was nesting in the pit of poison? For a brief period of time, I just threw caution and good sense to the wind and let them play. I figured we’d just Clorox them all when we got home. And realized that my parents were probably at home experiencing cold chills and the sense of impending doom and had no idea why. They’re just reading about it now. I know how you feel about the ball pit, Dad. I still have the forwarded emails and I know you don’t care about the research I conducted at Snopes.com about the snakes and the needle. But don’t they look like they’re having a great time in the Deathpit of Doom?
I think this was when the carnival worker was telling Baby Boy to stop throwing the diseased spheres of nastiness.
Suddenly, the fun came to a sudden and complete stop. Why? Because of this piece of pink fluff that cost us $9 and was probably worth about $2.34. Note the fair worker standing behind the Princess Diva with the large stash of cash in his hands. Can’t you hear his maniacal laugh as he fingers his moustache and mutters, “Suckers!”
The kids talked us into playing one of the games that plague every single traveling amusement park. They played the one where you shoot water into the little hole to blow up your balloon and the person whose balloon pops first wins a prize. Well, Princess Diva won. She was beyond thrilled to pick out her prize. She loves that dog dearly and her father and I could not be any prouder if she had won a scholarship. Her brothers, however…..
They were less than thrilled. They didn’t pat little sister on the back or give her a high five. No, they pouted. And whined. And complained. And sulked. And demanded that we play games until they were winners, too. (And they were having none of Mom’s “But to me you’re ALL winners!” Yeah. Save it for Barney, Mom.) After all, isn’t that what the carnies (Nomads. Smell of cabbage. Small hands…Name that movie reference.) were yelling as we walked through the parking lot? “EVERY one’s a winner!”
Try explaining to a five-year-old and an eight-year-old that there’s no F-A-I-R at the fair. Try telling the oldest that even though he is doing an AMAZING job on his YMCA basketball team, he probably won’t be able to sink that shot. Kevin Garnett probably wouldn’t be able to make that basket. Try explaining that when the carnie says, “First shot is free,” he doesn’t really mean that you’re actually going to get to walk away without spending money. We could see it on their faces, “Why would these loving fair workers who obviously have nothing but our best interests at heart do ANYTHING that would keep us from winning a prize? They WANT us to take some of those treasures off their hands. They SAID so!” We wasted a lot of words and breath that day. The Littles lost interest in the fun rides and the little one-track-minded boys could not shake their focus from the prizes that they knew were rightfully theirs. There were tears and tantrums and pouting until K told me to quit acting like a baby and that we could ride one more ride.
No one would ride the Tilt-A-Hurl or any of the fun, fast, exciting rides with me, so we settled on the caterpillar “roller coaster.” This helped lighten the mood of at least one little boy.
All said, even with the whole prize debacle that threatened to steal our joy, it was a good afternoon. Who would have thought so much fun could be crammed into the parking lot of a little church?