Allow me to paint a recent scene...
It was my turn to pick up the kids from school and so began the peaceful 30 minute trek to retrieve them. As I neared the edge of our town I noticed, out of the corner of my eye, something intriguing, something interesting enough to interrupt my best Carrie Underwood impression while belting out her latest hit, something that looked pretty expansive, colorful, and shiny. I glanced in the general direction of the scene that had caught my eye, causing a momentary distraction from my American idol moment, and noticed something alarming, something that caused the hairs to stand upright upon my pale skin, something all proud towns boast of at some point in the Summer; I eyed a big, swanky, joy promising, heart pumping, mouth salivating sight, A CARNIVAL – smack dab on the edge of town and smack dab in the process of being set up for the weekend.
Oh my… I knew this would be an intense car ride home with 5 children who were bound to notice the newest addition to our scenery unless I could come up with some sneaky way to distract them.
It’s not that I don’t appreciate the joy a carnival can bring, I do, and this sort of outing would generally be a wonderful family memory with a nice, ordinary family having a standard amount of children, say 3 or 4, but a carnival with my crew, or any major event with my crew, fair or not, is intense. These kinds of outings with the whole family feel like we are packing up our own version of circus like creatures and bringing them to participate as an official act in the show; it’s a lot, emotionally, physically, and mentally, A LOT. Not even so much with 6 of the children, but the 7th one, our beloved miracle child, our nine year old boy, can cause anything that would normally be a fun, family experience into something feeling very much less than an enjoyable experience. We adore this child and what he stands for, but the reality is, he makes anything we do as a family much more difficult and strenuous.
Our options when presented with the idea of a family outing such as this one include; hiring a babysitter for Luke and shelling out an additional $50-100 for his care on top of the cost of the family outing - now looking at approximately $400 - most normal families can do Disney for something close to that amount. Our second option, mom stays home with Luke and once again misses out on all of the family fun. Ryan may dispute the “fun” part of this statement; however, he has never been seen eagerly raising his hand volunteering for this position either. We both realize that with the fun comes an immense amount of work, but neither one of us wants to sacrifice the family moments to sit at home, in the peace and quiet, to tend to Luke, (hummm, that sounds weird when written out…) which brings me to the third option, we bring him. We clench our teeth and grit our guns (not sure what that means but it sounded right in my head) and load every single one of us into tight quarters within the nine passenger expedition, a chatty 10 year old in the middle of Ryan and myself, and drive 30 gloriously tense minutes into town and upon arrival, dad takes 6 of the children and mom takes Luke (the equivalent of 6 of the children) and then for the next however many hours, mom gets the coveted position of keeping the loud “ALL DONES!” in check, see previous post Worst Travel Companion Ever... and keeping a 9 year old child entertained who has no comprehension of what or why we are doing what we are doing (to create FUN memories Luke, can’t you tell, this is so fun) by shoving constant food into his mouth, which in turn becomes a very thin line between stuffing him to the point of nausea and keeping him somewhat content as we cart 6 other little bodies to and fro, on ride after precious ride, all while trying to snap pictures of the “fun” in between Luke attempting to wriggle his extremely flexible little body out of his wheelchair and keeping a semi eye on two curious three year olds. Exhale…..
And, because he’s eating and drinking for an extended amount of time there is bound to be a potty emergency at some point adding the additional bonus to my already excruciatingly enjoyable duties as mom of locating the nearest toiletry option, which at a carnival I’m sure includes only the finest choices in porta pottys, provided to highlight my carnival going experience and then somehow managing to change and clean a nine year old's bottom with something resembling toilet paper but feeling more like embarrassingly thin sand paper in these elegantly designed tight quarters all the while combating his attempts to reach with incredibly long appendages into the gigantic hole in front of him that has since peeked his curiosity as I am now dripping with sweat and anxiety because I'm squashed into this small space resembling something more like a furnace than a toiletry option, trying to accomplish this one, tiny task, and in the process attempting to NOT breathe through my mouth which can be difficult as the hissing of “NO! Don’t touch that!” repeatedly escapes my lips (along with some other choice unmentionables that I pray Luke doesn’t add to his very limited vocabulary).
This is our reality and this is what goes through my mind when I see that the carnival has come to town.
The kids bolted out of school, loaded into the van one by one and the count down began. The bright, shiny, welcoming trailers and equipment quickly made their way into our view. My eyes shifted back and forth, towards my children, towards the fairgrounds, hoping that maybe, just maybe their dad could deal with the begging on the way to school if I could somehow distract them from noticing, mustering up really intriguing conversation starters like, “So kids, what did you have for lunch today? Oh corn dogs? Wow, that sounds great. Did those corn dogs come with anything? Oh applesauce and french-fries, Wow, was the applesauce really sweet? Yes? Yum, that’s my FAVORITE kind of applesauce. Were the fries salty? That is so…. Oh no, no, no, no…I’m losing them, Oh Lord, help me… their heads are all turning, hold on, here we go……..!!!!”
Within 1.5 seconds of the shininess coming into view, one of the human beings, the quiet one in the back who I thought would be the safest one to avoid engaging heavily with, the generally tired one who even on occasion has been known to pass out on the car ride home, was fantastically wide awake in this memorable moment as she gasped in complete wonderment and ecstasy, declaring loudly and excitedly, “MOM, LOOK!!!! There’s a carnival!!! CAN WE GO???? Pretty, Pretty, Pretty Please???
And the car erupted, 5 extended seconds of taking in this magnificent display of pure enjoyment and delight for a child’s soul, literally the New Jerusalem coming down from Heaven upon our fallen world as their eyes bulged and their spirits soared imagining the absolute joy they would experience if they could just step foot upon this wonderland of excitement. Eight little eyes urgently searching my face for an answer, desperately hoping against all hope that Yes, they would be one of the elite to venture forth upon this Heaven on Earth.
“We’ll see” I said, sighing deeply, making absolutely NO promises. We’ll see is generally a 50/50 chance, and they know this and then I continued, “We need to find out when it’s running and how much it costs before Dad and I make any decisions.” This pacified the eager panting for the moment.
To be continued….
Just Keep Livin!!