Wednesday, October 12, 2011

You're Smiling, You're Happy

This looks like fall:

And this smells like fall:

And this tastes like fall:

But to my kids, this is what signals that fall is here:

Because I'm trying to be a financially responsible adult, we bought our pumpkins at Walmart this year. Because I'm a complete sucker, I bought a family season pass to a local pumpkin patch. Not just one, but two so that the whole family could go have fun together. I'm a giver...and a sucker - did I mention I'm a sucker? Damn you, Groupon and your sweet half price deals.

So this last Saturday, we loaded up for what was supposed to be the most glorious of all pumpkin patch trips. When I say 'we', I mean me, my 3 angels, Granny, my brother & sister-in-law, and their 6 kids. Yep, all 13 of us - hence the 2 family passes. Oh, and guess who else took a trip to the pumpkin patch that day? Every other sucker in the KC area who bought the Groupon.

The place was absolutely packed. Parking was in a field. Have you ever unloaded 9 children from 2 separate vehicles and tried to wrangle them out of the path of oncoming traffic? It's tricky even with 4 adults, and that's why I missed Marlee scratching perfect little swirls into my driver's side door. What did she use to leave her mark? I'm not sure, but I think a safe guess would be that it was her cute little cloven hoof.

Then, we made our way to the admissions line, which was 20 families deep. Again, with 9 children all super pumped up on excitement and sugar. Suddenly, I notice a 4ft sign that reads 'FAMILY SEASON PASS EXPRESS ADMISSIONS' with an arrow to the next big red barn. Jackpot! 

And wouldn't you know it, this conversation takes place:
Teenage girl at counter: "Um... you're gonna have to um...go in to the little red barn to get in..."
All 4 adults: "There's a sign outside that says express admissions out there, we have the family pass."
Teenage girl at counter: "Um...there is? I've never seen that sign. Are you sure?"
All 4 adults: "Yes, it's right next to this building. It's huge."
Teenage girl at counter: "Um...I don't know anything about that. You're gonna have to go through the little red barn."
All 4 adults: random muttered cussing as we try to gather up the kids to get back in line.

Why even have a line at something like that? Just put a big gate in, like you're starting a marathon because to be honest, it's pretty much the same thing.

Here are my complaints about the events that followed once we passed through the little red barn:
1. Port-a-potties. If you've ever been in a port-a-potty, you feel my pain immediately, but have you ever taken a toddler in one? It's pretty much a given that they're going to attempt to steady themselves against the urinal as you button their pants. Yuck!
2. The place is filled with those wooden photo props where there's a hole for your child to stick their face in. I personally get testy when somebody else's child attempts to get in the picture with my kids or my nieces/nephews. I don't really care that your little Mikey or Suzie really likes them too, because I don't know Mikey or Suzie.
3. I'm sure the indoor petting zoo was lovely, but Marlee said it was stinky and wouldn't go in. Guess what she and I did instead? More wooden photo prop pictures. Hooray!
4. There was a slide - several slides actually. Kids love slides, parents love to see their kids enjoy the slides. I'd just like to know though, what is the geographical fault line that separates polite people with kids that take turns from a-hole parents who don't care that their child not only cut in line, but also almost knocked a boy down 3 flights of stairs to have another go at the slide?
5. We had to carry two screaming toddlers away from the playground area. Like we can't get enough of that at home. The playground AND the screaming when it's time to go.
6. Pig races. These were actually really fun, but my handsome nephew Emanuel was chosen to honk a horn while the pigs were running. This led to Mia with tears streaming down her little dirty cheeks. If only I hadn't taken that Oscar Meyer wiener whistle out of my purse last week, we might've been ok. Thankfully, one set of pigs had Star Wars names, and all wrongs were righted instantly.
7. The train. Oh have mercy, the train... A real train on tracks, with a train station and everything? It was so cute! Until you're all separated because there's not enough room for all 13 members of the family to stand together on the 4ft sidewalk with your two strollers and 7 other children under the age of 7. At one point, I turned around to Granny and announced that the train station was a cluster fuck. I want to think that the woman next to her wasn't appalled and totally understood my sentiment, and chose to convey her understanding by means of raised eyebrows. Her child was a baby. He didn't understand my sentiment, I can be sure of that.
8. We made another trip to the port-a-potties. Eew!

Here are the enjoyable events that followed once we passed through the little red barn:
1. There was a pumpkin princess. She was amazing with the kids. Held them, took photos with them, danced to Charlie Daniels Band with them. Loved her, and the smile on each of the girls' faces. Especially my niece, Lilly. It was adorable!
2. They had fudge in a million flavors. We bought some because I'm way too lazy to make it myself. Unless it's a gift for someone else, then I'll make fudge until my hands hurt. 

Post train ride, it was time to go. We loaded the kids back into the cars, passed out Lunchables, made a ridiculous request for no messes in the car, and then attempted to pull out of the parking field/lot. It would be entirely too simple to just leave a place that's filled your heart with contempt for an entire day - the traffic was all one way out of the lot and onto the road, until you finally caught a break in the traffic entering the pumpkin patch and pulled out with a prayer that you wouldn't get T-boned!

I happened to pull out behind a fine redneck gentleman who thought it was necessary to fishtail his big, tough Toyota pickup in front of me just enough to throw gravel at my big tough Mom SUV. After following him 1/4 mile down the road, I cheerfully asked the kids if they'd like to see me get out and punch the man in the truck when we got to the stop sign. I tell you, the unanimous excited squeals of "Yes! Do it! Punch him!" were near deafening. Mentally, I totally knocked his front teeth out, but realistically, I just called him a hillbilly a-hole and waited for my turn to pull onto the highway.

With each mile that was put between my family and the pumpkin patch, the quality of my mood improved. About halfway home, I glanced in my rearview mirror & notice a mural of sorts on Mia's window. A mural that looked like it'd been painted with cheese. Of course, she denied it was cheese - it was the HAM! Logical choice, dear.

At that point, all I could do was smile and shake my head. I was close to my breaking point, and that's what you do when you're on the verge of lunacy - you laugh like a maniac and smile so hard you think your face is going to break. The response of my oldest daughter? "You're smiling Mom, you're happy."
 
And you know, she was right. Happiness is about sharing something with the people you love, even if you're only sharing a day trip gone completely wrong.

Almost everyone has their eyes closed. Perfection.