Wednesday, October 23, 2013

We Did the Puyallup

Some of my readers (if I have any left after my recent hiatus) will not know how to even pronounce today's post title.  For others of you, those four words brought on a flood of memories.  When I think of the Puyallup fair, I remember myself in lines for rides where I was exposed to more of the world in less time than maybe at any other time of my self-sheltered life.  From those lines I saw fourteen year-olds smoking, thirteen year-olds making out, and more skin than is usually visible in western Washington.  I recall specifically being sixteen, standing in line with my best friend, and being hit-on by a thirty-something in a red tank top with more body hair than I knew could be grown by one person.  

The Puyallup fair was the location of my first upside-down ride.  I stepped into a car at the Zipper without realizing that those cages flip all the way around.  I was quickly terrified.  The Zipper has been my favorite ride ever since.

But I was attending the fair with my family well before thirty-somethings would have thought to hit on me.  At that time, it was all about the collections and the animals, the food and the shows, the flower displays and the record-breaking pumpkins.  Thankfully, this is the stage to which I have returned.
One Wednesday, the kids played hooky from the afternoon of school due to dentist appointments.  By the time they were over, the sun was enough to convince me that the last hour of the school day was not terribly important.  My parents were already at the fair, where my mom demonstrated tatting (a dying form of lace-making), and we joined them.  When we arrived, my dad had scouted out the displays and shows that he thought we would most enjoy and gave us our own personal guided tour!

One of our favorite activities was watching this little six-man circus.  There was no flashy technology or even slights of hand; just honest tightrope walking, stunt bicycle tricks, ladder stilts, and over-acting. Perfect.
 At the end, the actors shook hands with any kids who wanted to say hello.  Mine jumped right up to go talk to them.  I love their bravery.  To me it means that they are perfectly at ease with themselves.
 I kept Pierce strapped in the stroller for most of our visit, but he did get out a bit.
 I let the kids go on just two rides each.  Getting into the fair had been a reasonable price, but the ride prices these days are out of control!  Children are multipliers, so one ride for four people cost twice as much as getting us all into the fair in the first place.  I felt that two rides was a generous offer!  At those prices, why was the ride area packed with people?!

First up was the classic, tall yellow slide with potato sacks.  I always loved that one.

For her second ride, Bethelle wanted adventure and thrill.  I told her that we would not be leaving kiddie land.  She found the fastest, scariest ride that kiddie land had to offer, and Rigby bravely joined her.  Every time they passed by us, my parents and I watched Rigby's face.  At first he looked scared, the next pass he looked sick, but pretty soon he just looked excited.
 This picture is fuzzy, but it tells a story.  Curie's second ride was a tame roller coaster.  The ride attendant put her in a car with the sweetest, quietest, most angelic little girl.  That little girl sat on the ride like a pleasant statue while Curie screamed the whole time.  She was happy, but screaming.  You can bet that I apologized to the girl's dad as we got our girls off the ride.  I'm still sorry about that.
Overall, I'd say that the fair was a parenting win.  Really, it's a prime place for whining kids who want everything in sight.  Nick and I have really tried to drill gratitude and acceptance into their heads.  I could see them wanting rides and treats that they would not be getting, but they made great efforts to act appropriately.  Even without gluttony, they had a great time seeing crafts, petting animals, watching shows, and sharing a cotton candy.

And the good news is that we should have at least six more years before hairy old men start hitting on my daughter.

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