The Ohio State Fair is always a summer must for our family. This year my daughter had the opportunity to dance in the “showcase pavilion” with the dance ministry we have been involved with for years. Some of the dances from the spring recital were chosen for this event. Our plan was to go in time for her to perform and then hit the rides after for the rest of the day and evening. Turns out that storms were forecasted for the afternoon, so we made a quick change and left early to make it to the fair in the morning just as the rides were opening…
We always pack food and drinks and spend nothing at the fair (sorry all you fair folks who love the fried twinkies) accept buying the ride bands for the kids. We usually take the time to see all the animals and do all the “country things”, but time was limited and our priorities were sound. It was rides that the kids lived for and so it will be rides we do. Off we went to the kiddie land area leaving my daughters costume in the car, and as this magnificent day had only begun….our world was just about to change. With one thought and action…. My husband says to me, “I wonder if the kids are big enough to ride the big rides now…I will go over to that area and check it out.” And as it turns out, both kids were tall enough to ride the rides!! (my five-year old with an adult for the roller coasters and that was just enough for him!) We ran over to the “BIG rides” and it seemed a little like stepping into Heaven. Both kids never knew it could be so good! This was an entirely new world for them, as they have only been held captive of the mini-coasters and the froggie leap, and the monkey spin rides that now seemed like tinker toys to them. These rides were HUGE! I was scared at first for my daughter who wanted to ride EVERY one of them. Waaaaay up in the sky she flew upside down and twirled with the teenagers through loops and spins. I was amazed at her courage. The thrill was bigger than anything she had experienced in her 8 years. Watching my son fly through the air and wiz around on these breathtaking roller coasters was almost surreal. Last year he couldn’t even get on some of the kiddie coasters! Now he is flying with the adults and teens up high in the sky with the screams and shrills coming from all who are with him. Amazing. This was the BIG TIME! A whole new world! I was excited for my kids because this was yet one more rite of passage in their lives. My heart always skips a beat or two when these moments occur….deep inside….a realization. Another season completed. A new step into our future. They are growing….fast.
As our amazing luck would have it on this day of all days, there seemed to be NO lines for all these crazy big and fun rides! I felt like I just brought my kids into Willie Wonka’s chocolate factory and they were running around with that crazed look in their eyes! My daughter especially hyper with screams and running to each ride, as she tends to eat life whole with one big gulp! I of course, fuel their spastic flames with yelling for them to “go go go!!! Get on THAT one! No line here! Wow! Look at that ride! I wouldn’t go on that if you paid me! HURRRRRRRRRRY!!!! They are boarding now!!!! I know you are just getting off this ride, but RUN and you can catch that one NOW!!!!!!” Apparently, I was even more submerged in the feeding frenzy than my kids… I’m all for grabbing hold of the crazy good that life brings you and squeezing it til it’s dry.
Watching the clock fly by for three hours of ride after ride…..we were getting close to the time we needed to get to the pavilion for the dance performance. We had 45 mins and my daughter hadn’t eaten a thing all day, sweating from the 90 degree weather and going strong on the rides still! I say to myself:
“What would a good mother do?” This always whispers in my heart over and over again….usually when I know full well I am NOT doing what a good mother would do!
“Oh, what the heck…they are having a blast! We will just do the rides til the last minute and run to the pavilion and change quickly in the bathroom (gross) and she can HOP on stage and dance her little heart out! Storms were going to come in, and the rides were starting to get crowded, but still many were open. So I decided to let my daughter keep going on the rides, knowing full well this was probably not the right thing to do.
Hinting at my heart like a radar buzz, that voice was stuffed back down as I yelled at my daughter to run faster to the next ride. Having no idea what the ride did, I slowly realized as it crept up higher and spun faster and looped over…that this one was too much. As I try to catch my daughter with each go around, I notice her head limp and tilted down on her shoulder….my nerves start to vibrate as my pulse quickens. I am now sweating profusely and ready to scream, “STOP THE RIDE!!!! MY BABY!! MY BABY IS NOT OKAY!!!!” I kept walking over to the toothless operator, holding my breath and ready to release the MOMFREAK within…. It was the longest ride in the park….felt like it anyway…
My daughter comes toddling off of it with a slow gurgling limp of sorts. She is not well. I am just grateful she is conscious, because I seriously thought she passed out on the ride! As she gets closer, I realize the face….know that look….it’s coming.
In the middle of the walkway, she blows. Over and over again. I rub her back and ask walkers by to just continue walking please. It’s only water coming out, because she hadn’t eaten a thing all day. (NOT what a good mother would do…) A few more purges and she looks up at the next ride…
“SWINGS!!!! BUT SOOOO MUCH HIGHER MOMMY! I WANNA GO!!!!!”
Now HERE is that moment. The voice returns. It gives all the stats: “Daughter hasn’t eaten all day, 90 degrees out, riding rides for over three hours, just puked, will be on stage in costume in T-45 minutes….” Then the looming question that always shakes my spirit with conviction…
“What would a good mother do??????”
As my daughter runs to the high flying (I mean flippin’ HIGH!) swings with a squeal and a leap…. I answer the question boldy:
A good mother would say no to more rides, get her in the shade to rest, feed her and hydrate her and make her stay quiet for a few minutes in order to assure that she makes it through the performance and is healthy and strong. With these last 30 minutes before the performance, a good mother would make her wind down from the wonderful exciting three hours she just had. I would clean her up and do her hair and get her looking “performance ready”. I mean, God FORBID she pukes or passes out on stage right?
Yeah, that’s what a “good mother would do”.
“WAIT FOR ME!!!!! NO, JUST GO GO GO GO!!! THEY’RE BOARDING!!!! HURRY AND GET ON!!!!! WOOHOO!!! YOU GO GIRL!!!!”
Turns out, sometimes it’s very rewarding to NOT do what a good mother would do….
We made it in time to stuff a PB&J down, guzzle water, change in the public restrooms, throw back sweaty hair and join the dancers!
After the performance, the rides were PACKED and it was hot and the thunder was heard off in the distance. We left the fair feeling satisfied and grateful for taking it all in….one big gulp at a time.