I go to the county fair every summer. It’s been a tradition since I was a kid. The fair is EXACTLY the same today as it was those many years ago. Just the way I like it.
Except I’m different now. I’m not the kid begging for cotton candy. I’m not the teenager flirting with boys. I don’t tuck money into my shoe anymore. I’m the Mom, with the ginormous backpack carrying all of the kids’ crap, sunscreen, and water bottles. I am the one in the dorky, floppy sun hat, protecting her face from the sun.
But I’m still a kid inside. I still get that giddiness and excitement in my tummy as we drive into the fairgrounds and park in the straw and walk through the turnstiles and get unlimited ride wristbands attached to our left wrists.
The sights are still the same. Leathered-skin carnies operating the rides. A little gruff. A little leery. A little toothless.
The rides are the same. Ferris wheel with the glowing lights. Bumper cars with their stop-and-go jerkiness and electricity popping. Creaky roller coaster that tic-tic-tics up the ramp and then whooshes you downward propelling screams. I can’t ride the spinning rides anymore (old age) but I watch my kids ride and I encourage them with a big grin on my face.
There are still the teenagers preening and flaunting. Girls wearing their tightest shorts, flipping hair, chomping on gum, checking out the boys in line who are also looking and smelling their finest, checking out the girls. I am no longer the teen, flipping my hair and checking out the boys. My shorts are tight (for other reasons).
Unwinnable games. Darts and balloons. Climb the ladder to ring a bell. Shoot the basketball. Knock over old-fashioned milk bottles. Giant pandas, red dogs, monkeys…a girl’s dream to win one and walk around with a stuffed animal under her arm, boasting. I never won one. Now, I’m like “we don’t need a giant stuffed banana with Jamaican hair.” Or DO we?
The world’s smallest horse. “Step right up and pay a dollar.” The horse is merely a small Shetland pony, appearing miniscule, in a pen built well below the stairs you climb. Every year, I am fooled again. But I have hope.
The piglets, the velvety cows, the endearing goats, the sheep with attitude. The smells of the barns are comforting, with their fresh straw and fresh poop. 4-H kids with their impressive pride, grooming their animals and answering your dumb questions. “What is the difference between a llama and an alpaca?” I ask.
The smells and tastes of the fair food. The same. Pink and blue fluffy cotton candy, deep-fried corn dogs, greasy funnel cakes sprinkled with powdered sugar, salty popcorn.
This year, I returned to the fair again with my three kids. Just as we do every year, where we pack in fun, exiting exhausted and a little bit green-faced at midnight. I take my youngest two kids by the hands and we practically skip to say hello to the goats, let the cotton candy dissolve on our tongues, and board the Ferris wheel to watch the “ants” down below.
I wave goodbye to my oldest teen son, who runs off with a friend–as they quickly ditch our goofball trio–and they do what teen boys do, with their hair gelled, just so.
And so, the cycle continues, round and round, like the Ferris wheel. Some things never change.
I’m hanging with the peeps at Yeah Right…check out other fun bloggers there!