Friday, September 14, 2012

Fair Day

Memphis City School kids are out on the town today while the teachers have an in-service day. I've heard so many people say, "A day off? Already?" like this is the craziest thing ever. But we've always had a Friday off in September, for as long as I can remember as a parent, teacher, and student. Only back when I was a student, it wasn't called "In-Service Day." It was called "Fair Day," remember? It was marketed like some benevolent holiday that allowed us to experience the Mid-South Fair, instead of a time for teachers to actually get work done without having to stop and yell at us to STFU every ten minutes.

I went to the fair here and there, but I don't remember ever begging my parents to let me go. Part of that is because I had plenty of opportunity to experience that kind of stuff at Libertyland and Camden Park (the amusement park in Huntington, WV, where my people are) so the fair wasn't all that novel. We even made trips to Opryland and Kings Island when I was a kid. Amuesment parks were just a thing we did, so I have ridden rides (and accepted the fact that I just don't love them) my whole life. This is not the case for my children.

A few years ago, Connor went to the fair for a friend's birthday. I think it was when he was five, and he swears he doesn't remember it. (This doesn't surprise me, as he probably doesn't remember what he had for breakfast this morning either.) We've never taken the kids before, because the Delta Fair is around Labor Day and they seem to usually be in Nashville for Labor Day. But now we're at the point where their peers are bragging about the rides and the food and the games and they want to go to the fair already, Mom, why won't you take us?!?!?!?

So we did. And I swear, I'm not exaggerating when I tell you it cost a million dollars (plus $5 for parking). I was prepared for that reality, but I was sort of caught off guard by how the kids approached the fair. I've just always been so used to riding rides that I forgot they had no context for it at all. They couldn't figure out what they should or shouldn't ride, because they had no idea what would be fun or what would be scary. We started them off slowly by riding the smaller of the two Ferris Wheels with them. But they still spent a lot of time running around looking at people riding rides before they were ready to commit to something.

Connor got over it quicker than Chloe. Early on, he rode some swing things that were new to him but fairly tame- not the baby swing ride but not the super-high one, either. But Chloe wanted no part of it, so we just watched Connor. Then, two hours later, she rode the super-high swing ride like it was no big thing. And that made sense- she had literally never ridden a ride in her life. She had to ease into it. So it was fun to watch them progress through the fair and see what they said yes and no to. Almost worth wiping out Chip's retirement fund so we could afford a turkey leg before we left. Don't worry- I've already started saving for next year. Now that they've had a taste of it, there's no turning back.

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